When Hartley and Gaye Anderson decided to start a family business in the late 1960s they weren’t sure where it would go, but they did know a few things – they had a passion, it was about family and they were going to make it a success. Now, 50 years later, all those things are still true. Mineral Resources International (MRI) will celebrate 50 years this month. The Weber County-based company produces products enhancing mineral nutrition. Much of which comes from inland sea water – the Great Salt Lake.
From Hartley’s simple but timely idea, products are developed and used by millions of people worldwide. After reading a series of articles by Dr. George W. Crane on the benefits of sea water, Anderson was a believer on using sea water to create something with powerful benefits. The other ironic part of his idea – the sea water was just a few miles from his home – The Great Salt Lake.
In 1968 Hartley started working with the idea and gave his purified sea water to his elderly neighbor who had been suffering from arthritis. Her life was essentially changed after trying it and so he, Gaye and the children went to work bottling the sea water and distributing it locally. Bright Day Health Foods in Ogden placed the company’s first order in January of 1969.
Once they started selling products locally and to areas within Dr. Crane’s radius, the family decided it was time to take their products on the road. They visited trade shows nationwide – heading out with enough money to get there, but maybe not enough to get home. There were some trips where they had to work extra hard to get home, but they always made it. They found that regions across the country where Dr. Crane’s articles were syndicated proved very successful, said Bruce Anderson, one of Hartley’s sons and the President/CEO of MRI.
All seven of the Anderson’s children have been involved with the business in some way or another over the 50-year span with most of them having extensive leadership roles at young ages. That was something the couple wanted and was one of their goals for the business – not only to grow a good business, but to grow a strong family along the way. Currently Bruce and Matthew, along with their spouses are holding down the MRI fort, but grandchildren also work there.
After their initial products took root and people were loving them, they started developing other products and brands. Their original Inland Sea Water is still sold but another product similar to it, called SeaMD (MD is for mineral drops) is their flagship product. It is a low-sodium, highly concentrated liquid that is rich in trace elements and naturally occurring magnesium chloride.
Bruce explained that magnesium is key for the bones to have flexibility. Calcium makes bones strong while magnesium keeps them from being brittle. It also does wonders for muscle cramping and migraines. Bruce refers to magnesium as the “kingpin mineral” that most people don’t realize they are missing until they start replenishing it. Another hugely popular item, “Elete” is an electrolyte supplement that can be dropped into water, dehydration and preventing muscle cramps without the extra sugar or flavor found in other electrolyte flavored drinks many athletes use. It works wonders to prevent cramps and allows for faster rebound times after a workout because dehydration isn’t a problem.
MRI sells its wares to companies that re-package it and sell it throughout the world. This has given family members the chance to travel worldwide, seeing and meeting the likes of princes and sultans. Bruce said that his father always felt lucky that a “simple farm boy” was able to meet world leaders and tour palaces.
There have been struggles and hardships including a devastating fire that very well could have put MRI out of business, but the family business has stood strong. For Bruce it comes down to a couple of words: “passion” and “mission.” “Once my dad saw the results in people it solidified his mission and what he didn’t know didn’t matter,” Bruce said. That mission and passion for products that can change and enhance lives has never faded. It’s not uncommon for Bruce to meet people with tears streaming down their cheeks as they tell him how their products have changed their lives. “That is pretty life changing for me as well,” Bruce said.
The company plans to center many of its 50th year celebrations at a large mineral convention in June, but celebrations of a great milestone will be ongoing throughout the year.