Interview with Eli Kerr, CEO of Gnarly Sports Nutrition
This article is part of a series featuring business executives who live and work in Utah. If you know of an executive we should interview, please get in touch with us.
After spending 10 years blending outdoor recreation with counseling to help people better themselves, Eli Kerr wanted to create a brand that builds people. Gnarly Sports Nutrition is just that; a company that inspires individuals to reach their full potential.
Building clean, effective, and great-tasting sports nutrition supplements is only part of the story of how the company helps athletes realize their potential. Gnarly Sports Nutrition creates high-quality sports nutrition products for all levels of mountain athletes that help them push through failure, amplify the grit, and celebrate life’s messy triumphs. Gnarly grows by pushing what’s possible.
How’d you get started in this industry?
It started with a vision of creating good quality and great tasting natural products for the mountain athlete.
I have been in the outdoor industry for 18 years, and nine years ago, we saw an opportunity. As more outdoor mountain athletes started training for their sports, we noticed that no one was bringing the science of sports nutrition to them.
Mountain athletes put their bodies through more stress and work than any other athlete. Yet, there’s a lack of nutrition knowledge and how to properly supplement for performance and recovery. We are a grassroots brand, but we are growing into a household name in the outdoor industry.
What recent professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
Gnarly Sports Nutrition recently made a change to our packaging. In addition to going through a significant rebranding project, our team is also challenging the sports nutrition’s status quo of using plastic tubs. Our team successfully moved all of our plastic tub products to steel can packaging. This may not be our final packaging solution, but it’s more sustainable than plastic. I’m proud that our team goes the extra mile to produce sustainable products. We’re an eco-friendly brand. All of our products have gone through NSF International testing and certification, and 50% of the line is also NSF Certified for Sport®.
What do you like most about living in Utah?
Our company is an outdoor brand, and Utah allows our team to work and play. We can climb at lunch, ski before work, or get out on a mountain run before we go home to be with our families. It’s an incredible place to access recreation we love and still meet our everyday responsibilities.
What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
Utah has a supportive business community — on individual and government levels. The state is full of talented entrepreneurs who want to support and see other businesses succeed. I appreciate the win-win, collaborative environment.
What’s your primary challenge in doing business in Utah?
Hiring and developing a diverse and inclusive team and culture.
What’s your business philosophy?
Generate value in everything you do. Incorporate empathy in everything you can.
What do you like most about being CEO of Gnarly Sports Nutrition?
I love seeing team members come into the company and take over responsibilities, own them, and find fulfillment from their work. It’s a beautiful process to witness in a growing brand, and watching that process take place is one of my favorite things as a leader. Ultimately, I love seeing people succeed.
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
When I was 18, I skipped high school graduation and went to Africa with a group of people I didn’t know. While there, I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and learned invaluable lessons. I learned the importance of forging your path and finding your way of doing things. Your work should be an expression of your love.