Ocean Drive Magazine Sits Down With Visionary CEO James Ridinger

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Ocean Drive magazine, the premiere luxury lifesyle magazine exclusively interviews entrepreneur James Ridinger. James Ridinger is CEO of internet marketing company Market America.

People hate to be sold but love to buy

Ocean Drive Magazine recently sat down with James Ridinger and Loren Ridinger, president and CEO and Senior Vice President of Market America respectively for an article that appeared in the December issue of Ocean Drive.

The mission was to catch up with the husband-and-wife powerhouse team and learn what's hot with their monstrously successful company, Market America, and its groundbreaking website, marketamerica.com, which launched in February 2007, celebrated by an over-the-top concert on the beach for 5,000 that featured performances by the Ridingers friends Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Fergie and hip-hop producer/artist Swizz Beats. Co-presented by Ocean Drive magazine, the starlit event, held during Super Bowl Weekend, was attended by a swarm of VIPs, including TomKat, Scarlett Johansson, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Hulk Hogan and Family, Fat Joe, Jeff Gordon and Jacob Arabo, a.k.a Jacob the Jeweler, who has made many custom pieces for the Ridingers.

Loren and James Ridinger explained to Ocean Drive how sixteen years ago in Greensboro, North Carolina; they launched Market America, a one-to-one direct-marketing company to sell products that spanned the health and nutrition, automotive, personal-care and cosmetics industries. They established a network of "unfranchise owners (UFOs)," to service their "Mall Without Walls." Empowering others to achieve wealth turned out to be a winning formula, Everyday people such as schoolteachers and legal secretaries were making up to $500,000 a year in extra income.

The network grew exponentially, with Market America expanding into Canada in 1994, Australia in 2002, Taiwan in 2005 and Hong Kong in August 2007. Expansion into the Hispanic market came in October 2007 with the launch of a Spanish-language web portal. Since the beginning of Market America, collective earnings by member "UFOs" total $1.5 billion in retail profits, in addition to commissions. Sales are just as impressive. "We're doing over $500 million a year, and we'll hit a billion in about a year and a half," James Ridinger vows.

By January 2007, there were 160,000 individual "UFO" member websites globally. And now, with marketamerica.com, those 160,000 websites are all united under one branded URL. With the addition of Mercado, a shopping-search software, visitors can fill their marketamerica.com universal shopping cart with literally 35 million products from 2,500 name-brand vendors, including Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, Nike, Apple, Wal-mart and Best Buy. Meaning, you can buy your custom Market America Gene SNP vitamins, matched to your own DNA (fun fact: James takes more than 100 vitamins a day), as well as a Gucci belt, and also comparison-shop laptops that weigh 1.5 pounds. Plus, every registered shopper is assigned a professional guide -- a real person in your zip code whom you can e-mail for advice.

"People hate to be sold but love to buy," James Ridinger said in the article. "They love to order something and get it delivered, and we wanted to focus on the types of products that people want to buy. Marketamerica.com is a reflection of what people want and need."

With Market America's yearly Leadership School approaching in February (with 23,000 attending, the annual "UFO" meeting is so enormous that it has to be held at the American Airlines Arena), Loren and James Ridinger informed Ocean Drive that they will be announcing some big news, including a partnership with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, whom James and Loren met through Todd Morley, founding member of Guggenheim Capital. "She has so many incredible ideas. It's going to be the Duchess' Store," Loren says. "She'll probably start with perfumes; she also has this incredible doll, Little Red, she created for a little boy in Oklahoma during the bombing." Sales from the doll are donated to Ferguson's charity, Children in Crisis.

Other plans outlined in the article include the on-line market America TV, timed for a holiday 2007 launch, with video streaming that will allow famous friends of Loren and James Ridinger to do talk shows. "Instead of watching Good Morning America, you can go on-line and watch Sarah on MA TV and have your morning coffee or tea with her," Loren says. Also to come is a digital marketplace/entertainment portal, where visitors can either download or buy music, movies, computer games and software, or use the on-line résumé and dating services. Marketamerica.com also has the rights to sell the DVD of Como Ama una Mujer (How a Woman Loves), the five-part musical drama miniseries produced for Univision by Lopez, Loren's best friend.

Ocean Drive was also curious how Loren and James Ridinger relax and steady their high-octane pace? The short answer is, they don't. Rarely are they not working. Success -- theirs, their "UFO" members and others in their circle -- is their high; it drives them 24/7. They do take a family vacation each summer for at least a month to New York, where they stay in their penthouse at The Ritz-Carlton in the city. "We are blessed to have a beautiful life, but sometimes it's nice to go back to the simple basics of having a little three-bedroom apartment where everyone can be together and cuddle up in the bed and just talk," Loren says. This summer, though, Loren decided to redecorate and transformed the space into an Old Hollywood modernist tribute, complete with screen legend Ava Gardner's queen-size Lucite bed, which she found in an antiques store in Bridgehampton, New York. "I thought about that bed all week. I couldn't sleep," remembers Loren, who, in our opinion, showed remarkable restraint in not buying it on the spot.

And then there is the house Loren and James Ridinger revealed to Ocean Drive they are building on Bonds Cay, a private Island in the Bahamas being developed by Antonio de la Rúa (Shakira's fiancé, the oldest son of the Argentine ex-president Fernando de la Rúa), music artist Alejandro Sanz and the aforementioned Morley. It is intended as an escape where, James says, "artists, entertainers and creative types can get away and brainstorm and interact with each other."

For more information about this article and Ocean Drive Magazine, go to http://www.oceandrive.com.

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Lana Bernstein

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