Issue: Winter 2004
Alumni Profile - David Brubaker
A Low-Pressure Situation
For David Brubaker
’67, MBA ’68, “relax” is a four-letter word. The entrepreneur, former
USC Alumni Association president and past member of the USC Board of
Trustees likes to have his hands in as many honey pots as possible. So
when the chance to market a groundbreaking new nutritional supplement
called Niteworks dropped into his lap, he couldn’t resist.
story begins in the lab of Louis J. Ignarro. A professor of
pharmacology at the UCLA School of Medicine – “his only detriment”
laughs Brubaker – Ignarro spent more than 20 years researching the
beneficial effects of nitric oxide on the human cardiovascular system,
earning a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998. By early 2002 Ignarro had
developed an ingestible formula of amino acids and vitamins that would
aid in the production of nitric oxide in the body, thus lowering a
person’s blood pressure; the trick for the scientist was to bring his
concoction out of the lab and into the marketplace.
Brubaker. The longtime Trojan devotee had forged a 35-year career in
the vitamin industry, most recently as the CEO of Feeling Fine Company,
a nutritional-supplement marketing firm. Meeting Ignarro in August 2002
and hearing about the doctor’s proposed blood-pressure product,
Brubaker was immediately excited by the possibilities of a dietary
supplement that “could positively influence the lives of over 60
million people who have symptoms of cardiovascular disease.”
like any savvy businessman, Brubaker wanted proof of the product’s
efficacy. So assigning himself the dual role of researcher and guinea
pig, he began to take a daily regimen of supplements that approximated
Ignarro’s formula under the supervision of his skeptical primary
physician. The results took both men aback: In 90 days, Brubaker’s
blood pressure dropped from 140/110 to 116/68, with no side effects
(120/80 is considered “normal” or healthy).
Brubaker filed a patent for the composition; to distribute their baby,
he and Ignarro brought in nutrition giant Herbalife “to tell the story
on a global basis,” says Brubaker. Herbalife launched the nighttime
powder supplement as “Niteworks” in June 2003; it proved to be the
company’s most successful new launch in 10 years, doing $50 million in
sales the first year alone.
In early 2005, Ignarro will release No More Heart Disease,
which disseminates his nitric oxide research for a mass audience;
Brubaker anticipates the book will be a bestseller and have a “dramatic
impact” on the exposure of Niteworks. Meantime, Brubaker continues to
work behind the scenes to promote his latest venture, which includes a
bit of guerilla marketing to family and friends. (“Only the ones I
like,” he jokes.) And he feels a unique pride at having brought a new
heart disease therapy to his generation (for details, see www.healthwelllife.com).
“As a baby boomer myself, I feel like on a personal level I had a responsibility to tell my friends about something that they can do to help reduce the risk of the number-one killer in our country,” he says.
– Meaghan Agnew