MN-Based Supplements Maker Airborne Sold for $150M

The company, which was struggling with plummeting sales and legal issues several years ago, was turned around under the direction of CEO Marti Morfitt, who said that the Airborne brand will be retained, but its employees will not.

Airborne, Inc.-an Eden Prairie-based maker of dietary supplements that support immune health-has been sold for $150 million in cash.

Salt Lake City-based Schiff Nutrition International, Inc., on Monday announced that it acquired Airborne on March 30. Schiff produces vitamins, nutritional supplements, and nutrition bars.

Several years ago, Airborne was struggling with plummeting sales and legal issues regarding product claims. In 2009, Marti Morfitt took the helm as CEO and then spent the last few years repositioning it for growth. Following three years of consistent revenue growth, Airborne's revenue totaled about $70 million for the 12 months that ended February 29.

Morfitt said in a Tuesday e-mail to Twin Cities Business that Schiff will maintain the Airborne brand, but the business will be integrated into Schiff's operations in Salt Lake City and San Francisco.

“The current plan is to transition the business without Airborne employees,” Morfitt said. The company currently employs 32 people, 28 of whom are based in the Twin Cities.

“The Airborne team is a small collection of very talented consumer products professionals across all functions-in sales, marketing, R&D, operations, quality, finance, and accounting,” Morfitt said. “They are working with their Schiff counterparts to ensure the business and knowledge transition is seamless and thorough. Once complete, they will begin the search for their next opportunities.”

Morfitt too will transition to her next opportunity. She told Twin Cities Business that she plans to rejoin River Rock Partners, a company she co-founded in 2008 to acquire and manage companies for turnaround and resale. Airborne was a River Rock Partners client when its leaders asked her to take the helm.

Airborne isn't the first Minnesota company that Morfitt turned around and positioned for an acquisition-she is best known for her role at Eden Prairie-based CNS, Inc., the maker of Breathe Right nasal strips. She joined that company as president and chief operating officer in 1998, became CEO in 2001, and grew the business, which was sold in 2006 for $566 million.