Westlake Village Supplement Maker’s Passion Fuels Probiotics Boom

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After three decades of blood, sweat, and tears, Natren Inc. co-founders Natasha and Yordan Trenev complete their state-of-the-art probiotics manufacturing facility, allowing millions to experience the many health benefits provided by friendly intestinal flora.

Natren Probiotics
With the installation of the new pharmaceutical-grade fermentation equipment, Natren finally has all of its manufacturing components in-house, under a single roof.

Often fondly referred to as “The Mother of Probiotics”, Natasha Trenev, co-founder of Natren, Inc., says after 32 years of blood, sweat, and tears, she is witnessing the culmination of a dream with the completion of a ten million dollar renovation to her Westlake Village probiotics manufacturing plant on Townsgate Road. Probiotics, meaning ‘for life’, are the beneficial bacteria strains which inhabit the gastrointestinal tract and keep us well by defending our bodies against dangerous germs, viruses, and other microscopic invaders.

“With the installation of the new pharmaceutical-grade fermentation equipment we finally have all our manufacturing components in-house, under a single roof,” says Trenev. “This upgrade allows us to be in complete control of the production process and enables us to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for our probiotic products.

Trenev says the new improvements to the plant represent a major milestone for both her and husband Yordan, her partner in life and in business. “Together we have fought to build this production facility and the probiotic field,” she says, emphasizing that the road to accomplishing their goals has been an extremely challenging one.

Trenev, whose family immigrated to the US from the former nation of Yugoslavia when she was eight years old, says she first became aware of the health benefits of probiotics in the mid-60s as a high school student working at her father’s Glendale, California yogurt company, Continental Culture Specialists.

“After reading letters from customers describing the health transformations they had experienced from eating my father’s yogurt, I decided to learn more about the medicinal properties of yogurt and more about the various strains of beneficial bacteria that yogurt contained,” says Trenev. “Knowing that the bacteria used to produce yogurt could fight a variety of physical ailments, I decided I would try to isolate these bacterial strains and offer them in a concentrated and more potent form than found in foods.”

By 1981, after years of study and research and with the help of leading-edge dairy scientists, Trenev says she succeeded in producing her first single bacterial strain probiotic supplement, which she named Superdophilus. But when she announced her plan to sell her new single strain bacteria in health food stores she was told by one health food industry executive to ‘get psychiatric help’.

“He said I didn’t ‘have a chance in Hell’ of making sales. And after speaking with a number of retailers about my new product, I started to think he might be right,” says Trenev. “People had no idea what acidophilus was, nor did they understand how digestion worked. Trying to get people to buy a bacteria supplement for their intestinal health was like trying to convince them they should visit the moon. Even doctors didn’t understand why I was selling bacteria. The only thing doctors knew about bacteria was that it caused infection.”

Trenev says any doubts about the marketability of her new supplement quickly vanished after she gave samples to a local naturopath. “He called me two days later and said, ‘My God, what is this stuff? Patients who had chronic health issues now tell me they feel much better. It’s like a miracle!”

“Soon after that, people started showing up on my doorstep, begging for the product,” says Trenev. “Some were placing orders for 40 and 50 thousand dollar, and more.”

Although Trenev was thrilled by the demand for her new product, she and husband Yordan soon found themselves overwhelmed, working from their home 24/7 to keep up with the orders.

“We had successfully created a new category in the dietary supplement industry, which I dubbed ‘probiotics ’, a term I took from animal husbandry which referred to the bacterial mix farmers sometimes give to their livestock to keep them healthy,” says Trenev.

Trenev says the key factor that lifted her company even further was her decision in the mid-1990s to outreach directly to consumers through radio. “Radio allowed me to educate millions of potential new customers about the role probiotics played in digestive health and sent our sales through the roof,” she says.

Trenev says during the period they were battling to establish their reputation as the industry’s premier source for probiotics, they were also battling to expand their manufacturing facility to keep up with demand from existing and future customers.

“Yordan, our CEO, is the person who built our plant one-step-at-a-time over the last 25 years,” says Trenev. “He took the building from when it was just a huge empty room with a few partition walls, to what we have today; a 25,000 square foot plant with a full-fledged laboratory and state-of-the-art machinery.

“Because we understood the role that beneficial intestinal bacteria play in establishing good health, 25 years ago Yordan and I decided to put all our passion and everything we owned on the line to create a facility capable of producing the world’s finest quality probiotics. With these latest upgrades we feel we’ve achieved our goal and secured our legacy in the industry.”

Today, Natren, Inc., boasts a staff of fifty employees and a product line of nearly seventy probiotic supplements, the most popular of which Trenev says is “Healthy Trinity”, a combination of three probiotic strains proven to support good digestion and overall good health.

About Natren
Natren, Inc. introduced probiotics to the health food industry and launched the probiotic category in the United States in the early 1980s. We research, test, and cultivate all our strains in our state-of-the-art laboratory. Our probiotics are grown and manufactured in a pharmaceutical grade facility located in Westlake Village, CA. Our mission statement: Natren is driven to produce the highest quality probiotic supplements, setting a global standard of excellence in quality and reliability. Natren is committed to emphasizing, through education, the importance of daily probiotic supplementation.

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Dana Benson
Natren Probiotics
(805) 371-4737 Ext: 2143
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