Though a golf scholarship allowed Sean Marszalek to get a full ride to college, his arrest and conviction pulled him out of school into a five-year stint in federal prison. While difficult, it provided the wake-up call he needed.

Marszalek dedicated time to researching kinesiology, fitness and nutritional science. His tarnished record made it difficult to find employment, so he began his own fitness practice.

His breakthrough came when he identified deficiencies in supplements and recognized the lack of protein products marketed to women. Working with a client who had a culinary degree, they produced protein bars from scratch. That led to the start of SDC Nutrition.

As the company grew, it began producing products for other companies though outsource agreements. Unhappy with their quality standards, Marszalek, who is CEO, brought the manufacturing process in-house and took on other companies’ contract work. SDC began offering custom formulation, which along with its quick quote and sample turnaround times, served as a cornerstone of its B2B revenue stream.

Building out the new manufacturing facility after SDC’s first profitable year was a risk, requiring huge investments equipment and sales staff. But it was a choice between improving safely or taking a risk to expand the business significantly.

While a successful acquisition and manufacturing plant upgrade led to profitability, the acquisition was not without issues. The leadership transition was rocky and it was difficult meeting the newfound demand acquired through the purchase. Marszalek had to work 15-hour days throughout the week and help out on the production line to fill orders.

Marszalek has since assembled an independent board and ceded a lot of his control in the interest of bringing the company to the next level by acquiring talent and gaining insights. Through work ethic and leadership, Marszalek has positioned his company for continued success.