Saturday, July 10, 2004

Smiling Bob's no doubt happier


Berkeley adds different lines

By James McNair
Enquirer staff writer

Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, the Forest Park company best known for its TV spokesman Smiling Bob, has introduced products for people who are overweight, arthritic, insomniac, stressed-out or forgetful.

Owned by Amberley Village resident Steve Warshak, Berkeley has cashed in on the public's growing appetite for sexual health aids. Its flagship product, Enzyte, claims to boost erectile fullness, while its product Avlimil claims to restore lost libidos in women. Warshak said Friday the company is on track to post $250 million in sales this year.

Berkeley's latest wave of herbal products fall outside the realm of sex. They are:

•  Pinadol, for stress.

• Numovil, for age-related memory decline.

•  Dromias, for sleep difficulty.

•  Suvaril, for weight management.

•  Rudofil, for stiff joints.

•  Nuproxi, for dry skin.

Warshak said all but Rudofil and Nuproxi, which go on sale in August, were launched two weeks ago. As with Berkeley's other products, they are being supported by TV spots.

"They're doing phenomenal," he said. "Suvaril is outselling Enzyte and Avlimil. Our non-sex supplements are responsible for more than 50 percent of our sales."

Berkeley's credit-card billing and refund practices have generated more than 1,600 customer complaints to the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Attorney General's office, many for billings that take place within a 30-day free trial period. One Enzyte buyer filed a class-action suit against the company.

Warshak said he has formed a 50-employee compliance team to review sales calls for accuracy and disclosure.

In September, people who don't want to take chances with Berkeley's telephone or Internet sales mechanisms will be able to buy some of its products at GNC stores, Warshak said. The six offerings will include Enzyte, a once-a-day pill that costs $40 for a 30-day supply, and Avlimil. The floor display will mark Smiling Bob's debut in a retail setting.

Warshak said Berkeley employs more than 1,500 people to handle 50,000 telephone calls and 100,000 Web site visits daily. The company employed 800 people in February at its facilities in Forest Park and Blue Ash.

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E-mail jmcnair@enquirer.com




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