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Health food company moves to Pinellas Park

(ran West edition)

The maker of the country's No. 1-selling protein bar has moved to Pinellas Park.

Worldwide Sport Nutritional Supplements, whose products such as the Pure Protein bar target competitive body builders and dieters, moved its entire warehouse and telemarketing operations as well as its corporate offices here at the beginning of September.

At 16,500 to 17,000 square feet, the new facilities at 10540 72nd St. N are more than twice the size of the company's former location in Utica, N.Y. Four of the company's 17 employees also made the move.

Worldwide is looking to hire another three to five inside sales representatives. It's also looking for an international sales manager.

Its 1997 sales are estimated at $14-million.

The company chose Pinellas Park instead of other cities, such as Atlanta, and other locations in the bay area because two of its suppliers are within blocks, and four of its distributors are in Florida.

"Florida is becoming the health and fitness mecca of the United States," Worldwide president David McCabe said.

Having two suppliers nearby saves money in shipping costs, McCabe said. But it also helps in product development, saving time and stress because it is easier to run a couple of blocks away to taste-test new products rather than mailing items back and forth.

The company taste-tested 100 samples before it settled on the current formula for its Pure Protein bar. The bar comes in two flavors, peanut butter and chocolate deluxe.

Pinellas Park also welcomed the company with open arms and helped it settle in, said William Kemp, the company's chief financial officer.

Once the decision was made to move to Pinellas Park, things went quickly.

"We literally shut down in Utica on a Thursday, loaded everything on tractor-trailers, left Friday at noon, got here Saturday at noon," Kemp said.

They spent Sunday and Labor Day unloading and setting up computers.

"We were open for business Tuesday," Kemp said.

Worldwide is the 4-year-old brainchild of McCabe, a former bodybuilder who discovered dietary supplements after he suffered a "severe, severe case of allergies."

His doctor told McCabe he needed to boost his immune system and, after studying nutrition, McCabe began taking vitamins and minerals. The combination worked.

"That's what really got me into this," he said.

Now his father, mother and wife work with him in the business.

Worldwide has 42 products, including the Pure Protein bar, which is high in protein and low in carbohydrates; a pure protein drink; amino acid powders; and Creatine Gel.

McCabe said he is especially enthusiastic about one of the company's newest products, the Burn-IT bar. The bar contains potassium pyruvate, the hottest-selling supplement for burning fat.

The company has already presold 250,000 of the bars.

Worldwide's products can be found in General Nutrition Centers, Stone Mills, Tree of Life and other health stores.

Its products are sold in 14 countries, including Canada, Brazil, Holland, the United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia and Saudi Arabia.

"Anything made in the USA, especially supplements, are huge overseas," McCabe said. "The whole world is opened up to nutrition. Nutrition is the biggest thing out there."

_ Times researcher Kitty Bennett and staff writer Brian Baer contributed to this report.