When gym owner and personal trainer Sean Marszalek couldn’t find a healthier protein bar, he decided to team up with a client and devised one.

The bars they made in 2008 led to the formation of SDC Nutrition, a Findlay-based nutritional products and supplement company that is enjoying growing success riding the wave of demand for all-natural nutritional supplements among health-conscious Americans.

“We saw an opening in the market for cleaner, all-natural products,” said Marszalek, whose business partner Devenee Schumacher happened to have a degree in culinary arts. “We could see that the market was going to trend to those products.”

While it still makes nutrition bars and sports drinks, and recently introduced a protein-enhanced pancake mix under its About Time brand, protein powders have become the biggest part of the business, Marszalek said.

Sales have doubled every year since SDC Nutrition has been in business, he said, declining to disclose specific figures for the privately held company. The growth has happened as SDC Nutrition expands overseas and buys other companies under a strategy to grow quickly.
SDC has started or acquired five brands, including NVIE Nutrition, BME Labz and G6 Sports, which provide about half the company’s sales. It has a contract-manufacturing operation for about 30 supplement companies, which accounts for the other 50 percent of revenue.
The global nutrition and supplements market was estimated to be worth about $104 billion, and growing between 6 percent and 7 percent a year, according to a January report from Persistence Market Research, in New York.

“Over the last 10 to fifteen years, sales in the global nutrition and supplements market have seen an unprecedented spike,” the report stated. “This has encouraged a number of new players to step into the market with products that promise to be the elixir of youth, health and vitality.”

Protein supplements are among the fastest-growing areas of the sports nutrition market, especially among younger Americans, according to a 2014 report from research firm Euromonitor International.

SDC’s sales are expected to double again this year, helped along by the addition of capsule manufacturing capacity and additional acquisitions, Marszalek said. SDC will add hundreds of product categories to its portfolio, such as vitamins and minerals, when the capsule line opens at its Findlay headquarters and manufacturing facility next month.
Last month, to accelerate an expansion in Latin America, SDC said it signed a partnership with a former Brazilian executive of Downtown-based vitamin retailer GNC, to market and distribute SDC Nutrition’s products across the region.

“Latin America, and specifically Brazil, represents one of the biggest opportunities for SDC Nutrition, outside of the U.S.,” Marszalek said.
An estimated 50 million Brazilians work out, but only 5 percent of them consume supplements, he said.

The company sells in 13 countries outside the United States and is on track to be selling in 20 countries by the end of this year, he said.
SDC also acquired NVIE Nutrition, of Kalispell, Mont., last month for an undisclosed price. NVIE makes a line of protein supplements for athletes. Marszalek said SDC is in discussions to purchase another company in a deal that is expected to close in August. He declined to name the target company.

To facilitate its growth, SDC in September moved into the space in Findlay in the RIDC Park, which tripled the size of its former space in Turtle Creek. It has occupied about one-third of the building so far but plans to have it fully occupied by the end of 2016.
Employment has grown with the move. The company has 45 employees, up from about 30 a year ago. Schumacher said she expects the company to have more than 75 workers by the end of 2016.
Seven years after taking a chance on their idea for a business, Marszalek and Schumacher said they’re finally feeling comfortable with the future of SDC, which last month closed on $2.5 million in investor financing. It recently filled out its management team with several experienced executives.

“We took a lot of risk,” Marszalek said. “Now we’re starting to see some of the rewards.”