In 1985. In the thriving atmosphere of Milan, where projects, dreams and ambitions were unfolding, four young entrepreneurs chose a small office in centrally located via Crivelli as the headquarters for their entrepreneurial adventure. Hence, Phoenix srl was established, one of the first Italian companies to import from the USA products that were so revolutionary for the time that even a reference merchandise category had as yet to be drawn up. They were called nutritional supplements in America, where they had been successfully used for years, but here in Italy, the land of the far more famous Mediterranean diet, they had no name and were almost entirely unknown.
And it was thus that, driven by deep motivation and strong belief, busy 24-hour working days, sleepless nights, parking fines, continuous travel between Italy and the United States, Phoenix srl participated in Herbora, an innovative trade fair on natural health, held in Milan, launching its pioneer products: Beta-carotene, a powerful carotenoid for healthy eyesight and skin, that Magnesium 375 would become a top seller worth over a million packages, despite being only a bet at the time.
Sales offers were handwritten on letterheads, and the response, “No, thank you,” was only too often just round the bend. But not even the flaunted suspicion of the most sceptical doctors or of the most conservative pharmacist could undermine the company’s powerful enthusiasm. Furthermore, the brand name chosen to launch this small product line was defined with visionary insight, and already predicted its future success: LongLife was not merely a promise of well-being; it soon became a genuine byword for excellent quality, and took pharmacies and herbal stores by storm throughout Italy during the subsequent decades
After the initial years, the line counted about twenty products, the first employees made their appearance and the offices in via Crivelli became quite crowded. The new office was opened in the hinterland, in Peschiera Borromeo. Rooms were larger and modular, as a developing company needs space. Especially to create a warehouse for storage of the growing number of products. The new offices were the strategic site from where dealers were managed. The company started a profitable partnership with them to expand distribution even outside the Milanese area.
This phase demanded endless reserves of energy. Everybody did their utmost, from invoicing to packaging, supplies and deliveries, and everything was done with a smile and a joyful heart. But also aware that they were laying the foundations of a potentially powerful project. Even packaging design and the graphics for labels were managed inhouse. Initially, when the product line was small, one colour was assigned to each product, a rainbow of natural solutions to promote well-being and alleviate the most common disorders, at a time when the idea that certain deficiencies can be corrected without resorting to medicines was only just dawning.
Then a decision was required, as the range expanded and colour nuances could become too many and hard to distinguish. They needed a sunny colour that would be highly visible at the point of sale. A highly recognisable colour. A colour that would be their very own, and which would convey, to everybody, the same enthusiasm and positive approach that were the driving force of everything from the onset. Hence the decision to stake everything on yellow, from the cap to the label. Yellow became the most constant and ongoing visual identification element among all other factors that developed over the years.
LongLife products increase in number, widely known as “the products with the yellow cap”. At the same time, the first early scientific studies on how supplementation with certain substances can contribute towards preventing some diseases started spreading in the international scene. Hence the creation of LongLife’sfirst catalogue intended for the scientific medical framework. It was a precious tool that introduced and brought together the growing bibliographical references on the efficacy of the various active ingredients used.
Those were years that witnessed great changes. After the initial doubts on their efficacy, food supplements met with resounding success both with experts and with the public at large. They became so widely used that a unified institutional regulation on the subject was required. Hence, a weekly pilgrimage travelled from Peschiera Borromeo to the Ministry of Health, to which notice of every LongLife product had to be submitted. It was a period of tiring and time-consuming journeys, long waits, climbs and descents of the endless stairs of the prestigious Roman buildings but every crumb of energy was well spent.
However, the most significant event was the one that caused a crucial and fortunate twist to the entire company that, from mere importer became an actual independent manufacturer. Hence the first packaging line started operating, followed by the first production line a few years later. This was the cost containment solution required to release highly competitive products on the market. Inhouse controls were also implemented to ensure the production line’s excellent quality during all phases.
The time had come to strengthen LongLife’s presence throughout Italy. The time had come to create an actual sales network in order to record and respond to the various health-related needs observed along the Italian peninsula. They were very busy years, crammed with introductions, new encounters, acquaintances and partnerships, most of which have been strengthened and consolidated over the years. Work was enhanced by the dynamic and colourful backdrop of the various accents and fascinating inflections of dialects that, from North to South, gradually joined the choir of those who enthusiastically supported LongLife quality.
Marketing conveyed vigorous impetus: trade fairs, events, conferences and merchandising, besides meticulous control of fittings for points of sale. Every channel was crucial to ensure that an increasing number of people, both health professionals and consumers, would come to know and appreciate the extraordinary potential and efficacy of a complete range of phytotherapeutic and nutraceutical products. The product guide for the public was crucial in this regard. A small but information-packed booklet on LongLife’s entire offer. The number of pages and contents have increased over the years, proportionately with the product range, which now exceeds 250 items.
But it was a time to promote the search for effective and innovative products, without hesitation. Hence the product line centred on medicinal fungi was launched to enrich and complete LongLife’sproposal: eleven preparations with medicinal fungi, highly precious remedies inspired by millenary eastern medicinal traditions.
Per aspera ad astra: nobody questions the importance of nutritional supplementation today. Even when a person is following a healthy and balanced diet, many factors (pollution, impoverished cultivation soil, cooking methods of certain foods, etc.) make the intake of a food supplement useful and necessary. The number of people, both health professionals and consumers, who choose integrative medicine is growing.
LongLife, which rightfully deserves credit for contributing to the dissemination of this culture of natural health, is certainly not resting on its laurels. Participation in the great universal Expo held in Milan, an institutional video directed by Igor Borghi, an entirely revisited website, the creation of a dedicated page on Facebook, the creation of a monthly newsletter, the expansion and total renovation of the head office and, again, interviews, conferences, trade fairs, quality certifications and targeted research are only some of the operations implemented in the short term, which counts numberless activities, projects and new launches.
The line now exceeds 260 products, and the unavoidable has come to pass: domestic borders are too small. The newly established Business Development Department dedicated to foreign markets has been created to convey LongLife’s made in Italy excellence to the world. We have already recorded success in Ukraine, China, Russia, Turkey and Portugal. Contacts and agreements with foreign agents and distributors are rapidly multiplying. And it is only the beginning.
Also because the company does not stop evolving and sets new ambitious goals. The first of these goals is to move beyond the public’s perception that Longlife is one of the best companies in the food supplements sector, to now become a genuine landmark, the place where anybody can find advice, tips, news, information and extensive information on health, prevention, beauty, natural active ingredients and science. A genuine, complete and integrated natural well-being system for a life that is not only long, but especially healthy, balanced and happy. And like all the most beautiful stories, this one too continues..