PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
LIVING HIGH ON POLYNESIAíS LUCRATIVE NONI FRUIT
By Richard Wolfgramm
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (Ano Masima News, October) - Multi level marketing. Pyramid schemes. Network marketing. Those words alone make people cringe.
But this man might make you think different.
Meet Ken Rolfsness.
Ken is a certified millionaire and he did it with a fruit that many of us, or our parents, might have had growing in our backyards in the islands - the noni fruit. He is one of top distributors in the world for Tahitian Noni International, and unlike that one uncle who always tries to get you into countless make-money-quick schemes, Ken has succeeded in the world of network marketing and he actually has the goods to show for it.
In the early 90ís, food scientist John Wadsworth heard about the noni fruit. Wadworthís extensive noni research led him to Tahiti, where he finally saw the noni fruit for himself.
Of course, what Wadsworth stumbled upon was a medicinal truth known to Polynesians for thousands of years. Noni, or nonu, was one of the canoe plants used by our ancestors for various ailments such skin afflictions, respiratory infections, indigestion, broken bones, sprains, fevers, bruises or pregnancy related illnesses, to name a few.
Wadsworth then returned to the United States, with a goal to take the healing properties of the noni fruit to the rest of the world. So he teamed up with another food scientist, Stephen Story and worked for nearly three years to perfect the formula for Tahitian Noni Juice. In 1996, Tahitian Noni Juice was born.
The parent company, Tahitian Noni International (TNI), based in Utah County, became quite a success story. By 2002, TNI was listed as number 26 on Inc. Magazineís 500 fastest growing companies. That same year, TNI was touted by Griffin-Hill, an independent marketing research firm, as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. In TNIís first seven years, it raked up US$2 billion dollars worth of sales. TNI is the fourth fastest growing company in world history, just behind Google, Fed Ex, Intel, and Sony. It took Microsoft ten years to earn half of what TNI made in their fifth year sales.
Most of TNIís growth is fueled by the popularity of its noni-based products, but the true backbone of TNIís growth is its network of distributors.
Ken grew up in Blue Springs, Missouri, in your typical Polynesian home. Ken, whose mother is Samoan (from the Fuimaono family) and father Norwegian, describes his childhood home as a small 3 bedroom house with 17 people living in it and broken cars littering the driveway.
He describes his family as hard workers but severely underpaid. Like many other Polynesian families, they were living paycheck to paycheck and wearing hand-me down clothes.
He used to assume that anyone driving a nice car or living in nice homes were probably doing something illegal. It wasnít until his LDS [Latter-Day Saints] mission to Australia exposed him to a reality that people with nice cars and homes are actually decent human beings.
After his mission, opportunities didnít get much better as he had expected. He worked as a tire re-treader and then tried sales briefly. He married an Australian and ended up moving down under.
"I was 31 years old, living with my wifeís parents, working a job and getting paid very little and not sure what to do about my future."
That all changed on June 3, 1998. Ken was at the point of being fired from his real estate sales job. He heard about this "fruit juice" from someone at church. Then he heard a tape called "Look Whoís Talking About Noni." He gave the tape to his boss to get his opinion and some business advice. Instead, after hearing the tape, his boss Phil flew from Australia to Utah and visited the TNI offices. Ken was shocked when his boss called him back from the U.S. and said "Ken, we are going to be rich!"
In September of 1998, Ken walked into his bossí office and showed him how much he made in that short amount of time and fired his boss. In an ironic twist of fate, his boss was so convinced about Tahitian Noni that he joined as one of Kenís downlinks.
Once the ball started rolling, Kenís climb up the money ladder didnít take very long. In nine months, Ken was a Triple Diamond and he became a Black Pearl in ten months. He went from flat broke to buying his wife a Lexus SUV and a luxury seven-bedroom house in 12 months. Today, his network has grown worldwide, generating monthly checks that are bigger than some of our yearly salaries.
Earlier this year, Ken and his family moved to Utah and made their home in a gated community in Utah County. In addition to being a distributor, Ken is now working closely with the TNI offices to promote Tahitian Noni products and to mentor other distributors.
As a top distributor, Ken has attended and has been honored at many of the TNI sponsored conventions throughout the world. But he noticed one thing that was missing: Polynesians.
"I looked around the room and noticed there was no other Polynesians there, and this is their fruit. I thought I really need to start getting them in.," says Ken.
Since then, heís made a commitment while heís here in Utah to recruit Polynesians to be distributors so they can also get their hands in the money barrel.
Ken believes TNI has a perfect product, a product that Polynesians are familiar with. The compensation plan is the perfect marriage for the product and he will vouch for the integrity of the company. He notes that TNI has paid out over US$20 million to Tahitian farmers, who provide the noni fruit exclusively to TNI.
The important thing to Ken is not the money but the opportunity.
Since he started as a distributor, his life has changed in so many ways. He has seen friends and family benefit from the healing properties of Tahitian Noni Juice. Heís also seen them financially benefit from Tahitian Noni Juice.
His own father suffered from Parkinsonís disease. He had been given a few months to live. However, after drinking Tahitian Noni Juice, he lived on for six more years.
While some people may find newfound wealth daunting, Ken is enjoying the entire experience.
He now has more time to spend with his family, play in his band, attend church activities, taking his family on vacations. He likes it that now, his wife can go shopping without having to look at a calculator.
But most of all, Kenís newfound freedom and wealth are something he wants other Polynesians to experience.
He is driven by his passion for Noni and a passion to help others.
As much as he enjoys the finer things in life, heís still the same down to earth guy before the noni fruit crossed his path and altered the course of his life forever.
October 19, 2005
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