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Nutraceutical giant on fast track to area

Sally Roberts
sroberts@nnbw.biz
George Pontiakos, president of BI Nutraceuticals, speaks during the EDAWN luncheon Sept. 24 about his company's upcoming move to Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.
Susan Mantle/EDAWN |

The largest manufacturer of botanical ingredients in the United States is moving to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. And it’s happening fast.

BI Nutraceuticals, Inc. operates four state-of-the-art facilities worldwide and is moving its Long Beach, Calif., plant to TRIC.

“The level of ‘can do’ attitude here far exceeded anything else we looked at,” company President George Pontiakos said during the Sept. 24 EDAWN luncheon at Atlantis, where the move was publically announced.

The company has leased a 140,000 square foot space from Global Logistic Properties in TRIC and will move it’s Long Beach plant — including 14, 40-foot mills — to the site.

Pontiakos said they expect to be out of California in November and up and running at TRIC in December.

Normally, the process to move a large facility takes 18-24 months, said Pontiakos, who is also moving with the company.

BI Nutraceuticals, which has been in business for 38 years and operates worldwide, supplies powdered plant ingredients for use in dietary supplements, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, personal care, and pet care products.

The company buys 350 distinct crops that include roots, stems, leaves, and berries. United States sources supply 60 percent of the crops with 40 countries shipping the rest.

BI Nutraceuticals is the largest importer of many botanicals including guarana, slippery elm bark, goldenseal, echinacea and others.

“There is a tremendous amount of benefit in botanicals,” Pontiakos said in a phone interview with NNBW. “All cultures used a lot of plants for healing and maintaining health.”

Once the plants arrive at BI Nutraceuticals facilities, they go through a unique cleaning and sterilization process. The dry steam sterilization process — Protexx HP Green Steam — kills all the bacteria but maintains the benefits of the botanicals, Pontiakos said.

“This (process) is significant, unique,” he said. “No one else is doing this.”

And BI Nutraceuticals is bringing it to TRIC.

Company officials decided in March of this year that a move was in order due to the challenges of doing business in California. The company looked at locations in nine states in a three-week period last spring.

“There are great places in the world to do business. Reno wasn’t on our short list to begin with, but it got there very quickly,” Pontiakos said.

“We were very impressed with Nevada. Every state has a similar incentive package (such as tax benefits). We were looking for a place with a culture we could bond with.”

That included a culture of entrepreneurship and cooperation, which Pontiakos said he saw in the Reno area across the spectrum in the state, county, and business community.

“Nevada, specifically northern Nevada, was the only place we found that,” he said.

“We made the decision in 24 hours.”