Bill Guthy, Founding Principal and Co-Chairman, along with co-founder Greg Renker, focus on new product and brand development. This includes selecting, licensing and developing products that meet the direct response criteria for success and crafting the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and proper casting of talent that have an associated product story rather than a traditional endorsement.
Raised by his mother above a New York City luncheonette, Guthy experienced a childhood of meager means. He excelled in high school-as editor of the paper, president of the Speech Club and student body vice president-conducting a successful landscaping business on the side. “I always had an entrepreneurial drive, a desire to do better,” Guthy recalls.
In 1969, the family settled in Southern California where Guthy followed tradition and attended Ambassador College in the only major then offered, Theology. In his sophomore year, the school broadened its choices and he switched to Psychology, graduating with a B.S. in 1977.
While in college, Guthy served as senior class president and paid his tuition by duplicating audiotapes for the Blind Department of the church affiliated with Ambassador. He eventually secured permission to rent the equipment at night and took on independent jobs. Cassette Productions Unlimited (CPU), his own audiotape duplication and packaging firm, was thus born in 1977. Originally operating from his apartment, Guthy soon bought his own equipment and moved into a small office in Pasadena.
In 1981, Guthy purchased a home for weekend retreats in Indian Wells, California and began a friendship with Greg Renker, whose family owned the resort. Both men realized they shared a love of motivational books, in particular Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” Guthy himself was well on his way to financial success, his cassette duplication business flourishing. CPU, now owned by Guthy-Renker, was renamed Guthy Renker Fulfillment Services (GRFS) at the beginning of 2011. It currently employees around 650 people with more than 400,000 square feet of fulfillment distribution and call center space with three locations in CA, LA and NC.
An explosion of growth occurred in 1984 when real estate mogul Paul Simon gave Guthy’s company an unusually large order-to duplicate 120,000 audio cassettes. The purpose sparked Guthy’s interest. Simon was running an infomercial on cable stations advertising cassettes of his real estate course. Guthy soon realized, “If I could start my own infomercial company, I could be my own best customer.”
In 1986, and after many long brainstorming sessions with Renker, Guthy recognized the time was ripe to enter the burgeoning infomercial business. It took little time to identify their first product, “Think and Grow Rich.” Acquiring the rights to the book and the author’s lectures for an audiotape series, they hired football star Fran Tarkenton as their first pitch man. “Think and Grow Rich” grossed nearly $10 million, leading Guthy and Renker to their next project with motivational speaker and best-selling author, Tony Robbins.
During the production of Robbins’ Personal Power, Guthy-Renker was spun off from CPU and officially formed on November 1, 1988. Following the early success of Personal Power¨ and Principal Secret¨, a skin care program with partner Victoria Principal, Guthy-Renker launched many new brands including Meaningful Beauty with Cindy Crawford, Wen Hair Care with Chaz Dean, X Out, Sheer Cover, Dr. Perricone and the acne fighting mega brand, Proactiv.
Bill Guthy has been spotlighted by Fortune Magazine on its list of “America’s Smartest Young Entrepreneurs” and has been honored as one of Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneurs of the Year.” In 2013, Bill was inducted as part of the inaugural class in the Direct Response Hall of Fame, honoring his pioneering work with Greg Renker in the direct marketing industry.
Additional accolades include Goldman Sachs recognizing both Greg Renker and Bill Guthy as two of the 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs during the 2013 Builders + Innovators Summit.