Total Nutrition Technology: From Science to Sales

Humbly displayed on an end table in the lobby of Total Nutrition Technology rests a piece of equipment that started it all: a cherry-red industrial planetary mixer. When she launched the manufacturer of powered foods and supplements 14 years ago, Lourdes McAgy had that one tool and an idea. Today she’s the CEO of an entity that was listed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for 2016 and 2017 and became certified this year as woman-owned by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

Her company private-labels products for some of the largest brands in the nation, and it’s experiencing explosive growth that led her to purchase 19 acres next-door to her 33,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. Construction has begun on two warehouses that will add 55,000 square feet to the operation, allowing TNT to expand production and add distribution operations.

It will also allow McAgy to create more jobs. The company already employs 80.

“It’s so awesome to know that I can do something and create this service and this place that enable someone to go home and pay their bills,” she says. “Almost 15 years later, I still can’t even believe it.”

Supplying Endless Demand

Regardless of whether a company would like to invest in an already developed product, or if it requires production of a new flavor, powder or concept, Total Nutrition Technology’s in-house research and development team, along with its state-of-the-art equipment, allows for the client to be in total control.

“We are a private-label manufacturer, which means we create and customize products,” McAgy says. “It begins with our research and development team on staff. They reverse-engineer products or create them from scratch. Our R&D staff is constantly quoting new items. We’re always finding ways to grow into something new, which is so exciting.”

Though she spends much of her time managing her team, securing deals, or conducting business face-to-face with clients, McAgy still makes time to develop new products. “I love science,” she says. “I’m in the business side of it now, but I still dive in with the R&D team.”

McAgy has spent years developing several lines of business in case the company were to experience a decline within a certain market. “My goal with TNT was to slowly build a steady stream of income, no matter what the economy looks like,” she says. “We’ve established a broad range of who we sell to and who we make products for.”

The R&D team created a low-calorie peanut butter powder that has become one of the company’s most in-demand products. “There are several grocery stores that have us do their private-labeling, including non-dairy creamers and peanut butter powders,” she says. “That’s our first avenue of revenue. Our second avenue caters to the demand of smoothie chains, both behind-the-bar and retail markets. … Our third and fourth avenues of business are pill and supplement manufacturing, along with various lines of protein and nutrient-rich powders we make for sports nutrition markets.”

McAgy sees every one of TNT’s products and services as a reflection of herself and her team — and a testament to their resilience. “We’ve had our ups and downs,” she says, “but we’re grateful to be where we are right now.”

Intuition Meets Intellect

McAgy graduated from the University of Central Florida with a biological science degree. Her intuitive spirit led her to Chicago to look for work. She acquired a position with a company that private-labeled various nutraceuticals and health supplements. Over the course of three years, she learned how to create and reverse-engineer nutrient-rich powdered food products. The procedural knowledge and growth potential sparked an explosive idea McAgy could not ignore.

In 2005, she moved back home to Orlando and thought, “Why don’t I start my own company? And I did.” McAgy invested in a single mixer, the red blender that sits in her company’s lobby today, and launched the beginnings of Total Nutrition Technology. For years, she tirelessly spent her time, energy and resources reverse-engineering various products. She developed and perfected recipes for protein powders, energizers, fat burners, grains and peanut-butter powders.

“At first, I thought I wanted to sell my own products,” she says, “but looking at how expensive it is to market your own and the liability behind it, I decided to expand out with the limited resources I had. My first main account was Tropical Smoothie Café.”

Her company remains a supplier for the smoothie chain that has franchises throughout the United States. “We still do all their supplements, all their nutrition — all the food powders that go behind the bar. When I started with them they had about 180 locations. Now they have nearly 700.”

Slow and Steady

McAgy decided it was time to invest further into the expansion of TNT. She relocated from her 1,000-square-foot warehouse in Orlando to a 33,000-square-foot facility in Leesburg, a place with rolling hills, a wholesome hometown feel, a burgeoning economy and affordable real estate. McAgy knew Leesburg would be the best place to cultivate her business.

At the same time, she has focused on her family, says her husband, David McAgy, who is an operations superintendent at Duke Energy. “Lourdes has also raised two boys ages 16 and 13 as she was learning on the fly how to be an entrepreneur while building the business,” he says. “There are many who can learn from Lourdes about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, but young women should especially take note.”

Although the corridors of the warehouse might seem bare or sterile, a familial bond resonates throughout the TNT property. Familiar greetings, hugs, fist bumps and contained squeals of joy resonate as McAgy walks through the facility and interacts with the employees.

“Even in the first few years, Lourdes’ plan has always been to grow the company at the right pace for the company and the employees,” her husband says. “Yes, that still includes lip-sync battles in the hallways and dance-offs in the lobby.”

While TNT caters to larger clients with orders that span to multimillion-unit quantities, McAgy makes it a point to continue production for those who helped lay the foundation for the company’s inception and success. A small modular room designated for quantities of 1,000 orders or less speaks to the gratitude and integrity of McAgy’s operation.

“I don’t ever want to leave smaller businesses behind because that’s where I started,” she says. “I started with nothing.”

Another way she supports small business is through the Diaz-McAgy TNT Women in Sciences Scholarship at UCF. “I’ll help anyone do what they need to succeed, if I can,” she says. The scholarship creates opportunities for entrepreneurial women pursuing a science degree in the Central Florida area. She encourages young women to find their voice, and to not be afraid to ask for help or to reach out and help others. “Our aim is to find who’s the next entrepreneurial woman from Orlando.”

McAgy has always understood the need to pay it forward, and she has appreciated the people who’ve done that for her. “You have to get people to want to work with you and to help you,” she says, “and to go along the journey with you.”

TNT represents much more than a product or a brand, she says. She feels it embodies adversity, success and growth. She often reflects on how she started with that first planetary mixer. “You really can do whatever you want in this country,” she says. “You just have to do it. Develop an idea. Find your resources and be patient.”

About the author

Elyssa Coultas

Elyssa Coultas

As digital brand manager and writer for i4 Business, Elyssa Coultas anticipates learning from the i4 team and continuing to grow as a writer, designer and entrepreneur.

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