Remembering Our Founder
Feb 28 2022
| Stratum News
| Jacqueline Rizo
It is with deep sadness that we share the passing of our founder, Mr. Hollis Osborne.
Hollis is survived by his loving wife, Nina Osborne; four children, Holly Adams (Randy), Paul Osborne (Ronda), Ron Osborne (Kim), and Karen Downs (Danny); eleven grandchildren; and twenty-seven great-grandchildren.
The funeral service is scheduled for Hollis at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 1, 2022, at Fairview Christian Church in Carthage, Mo. Military Honors will be immediately following the funeral at Park Cemetery in Carthage, Mo.
Arrangements are under the direction of Ulmer Funeral Home.
On Sept. 12, 1929, Hollis Osborne, was born to Olyn and Lilly Osborne in a country home in between Jasper and Golden City, Mo. From an early age, Hollis began learning the value of hard work while growing up on the family farm. In high school, he began raising cattle with the help of his father to begin earning money to attend college. Needless to say, being raised in this environment helped instill the tenacity, work ethic, and drive that helped guide Hollis’ future business success.
In order to help pay for his university tuition, Hollis joined the Army ROTC while working other various jobs at the university. On the brink of the Korean war, Hollis became a second lieutenant in the Army, and had climbed to the top of his class at the University of Missouri.
Hollis had met the love of his life, Nina while attending High School in Golden City, Mo. In 1950, after graduating from the University of Missouri, the two were married.
Very soon after being married, in 1951, the couple received a letter from Uncle Sam stating it was time for Hollis to fulfill his obligation to the United States Army, and soon after, the couple moved to Fort Seal in Lawton, Ok., for Hollis to begin his training as a sound range specialist.
Nina was pregnant with their first child as Hollis shipped out to join our armed forces in Korea.
As with most Veterans, Hollis’ days in the Korean war would instill images and create memories that would last the rest of his life. In 1952, after having served time in combat in Korea, Hollis came down with hemorrhagic fever and soon after was shipped back close to home to Lamar, Mo.
Hollis’ military experience had proved invaluable due to his leadership on the battlefield and learning how to work with all kinds of backgrounds and personality types. Hollis had realized that he could lead people and began thinking of ways to combine his university degree, agricultural background, and leadership learned in the military.
Hollis, the Entrepreneur
In the summer of 1953, Hollis and Nina moved to Jane, Mo., where Hollis used about $5 thousand dollars the couple had saved and another $5 thousand from a bank loan to purchase a small feed store. A little while after starting the feed store, he began growing chickens and selling eggs from not only his store, but also out of the back of his pickup truck.
He eventually went into the egg business full time, and soon realized he could have a better product, increased profitably and efficiencies by controlling the process from start to finish, from brooder to broiler, hatchery, and egg breaking.
Hollis quickly began creating and applying innovative solutions to the overall egg process and some of these innovations are still being used today. Due to Hollis tenacity, creativity, and ingenuity, he grew his one-man operation from selling out of the back of his truck to leading his company Top Notch Farms, later turned Moark Productions and sold to Land O’Lakes in 2006, towards being one of the Midwest’s largest egg production companies. Due to his process, profitability, lean manufacturing before there was such a thing, and clean operation, Top Notch later became the first franchisee of Egg-Land’s best.
“The thing that struck me most about Hollis was that he put the meaning of family in all of his family businesses.
You could work for him for your entire career, and he would make sure you were taken care of. That’s rare in this day and age, even in family businesses.
His heart particularly showed at the annual Christmas parties where all of his businesses would get together to celebrate,
and he made sure to come around and speak with everyone.” – Kevin Ruff, Senior Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs
In early 2000, Hollis began working on finding value from leftover eggshells that were currently being sent from egg breaking facilities to landfills - hundreds of thousands of tons each year. After learning about the joint health benefits of eggshell membrane, in 2003 he and his team developed a fully mechanical system that used heat and vacuum to separate the membrane from the eggshell. This now patented process is ideal as it does not require any chemicals, and the only byproduct of the process is steam.
In 2003, Hollis and his family sold the egg side of their business to Land O’ Lakes and continued in pursuit of this new venture selling eggshell membrane.
The first stop in this new journey was creating Membrell, which was a finished product company selling the NEM® brand eggshell membrane ingredient in supplement form. After finding quick success within this new industry, Hollis and his family, who had begun to help run his new venture, created ESM Technologies of which supplied the NEM® and ESC® ingredients to the nutrition industry including supplement and functional food and beverage manufacturers.
“I distinctly remember during my interview with Hollis, we were discussing hobbies and got onto the subject of pointing dogs.
We proceeded to discuss our preferred virtues in pointing dogs and our experiences.
I think that was the point I ‘passed’ the interview.” – Chris Haynes, Senior Director of Global Sales
A company that keeps on growing
In 2010, ESM became a “joint venture” between its previous owners and Novus International, who had dedicated a sector of their company, Stratum Nutrition, to also supplying and distributing branded ingredients worldwide. Novus International, headquartered in St. Charles, Mo., is one of the world’s largest animal nutrition solution providers for livestock, poultry, and aquaculture.
Together, ESM and Stratum accelerated new product development and the global sales and distribution of their combined product portfolio.
ESM sold Membrell and its assets to Redd Remedies, a finished product manufacturer, and current customer of Stratum, in late 2013. This allowed ESM & Stratum to focus all of their efforts on the global expansion of ingredient sales.
In 2017, ESM purchased the Stratum Nutrition brand from Novus. What was ESM, is now represented by the Stratum brand name, and the company and Novus International maintain their strong relationship as a joint-venture company.
In early 2022, Stratum entered into a partnership with Maxim Partners, LLC, a Chicago-based private equity firm. Through an agreement to acquire 100% of the shares previously owned by Novus Nutrition Brands, LLC, Maxim Partners has assumed majority ownership of Stratum Nutrition and will operate in partnership with ESM Holdings, LLC, which retains the remaining shares.
Together, Maxim Partners and Stratum Nutrition will capitalize on the strengths of both companies to expand Stratum’s product portfolio, both organically and inorganically, and to invest in manufacturing to better serve Stratum’s global customer base (manufacturers and marketers of supplements, foods, and beverages).
A company with humble beginnings turned into a leader in the natural products industry. We owe it all to the hard work and dedication of Mr. Hollis Osborne. He laid the foundation of Stratum Nutrition with his hands of leadership, his heart for family, and the wisdom to combine both. Our roots remain steadfast in what he built and these will continue to guide our values going forward.
Thank you, Hollis, for your love, faith, and dedication to make this world a better place — one eggshell at a time.