Marquette Wire

Business student brings family company’s nutrition bars to Sendik’s, expands horizons

Photo+via+phyterfood.com
Photo via phyterfood.com

Photo via phyterfood.com

Photo via phyterfood.com

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Nick Athanis, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, initially set out to study the arts. An avid musician, Nick said he had a stereotypical view of business students, and decided the field wasn’t for him. It wasn’t until he began working for his mother’s company, Phyter Food, that he changed his mind.

Phyter Food was created five years ago when Nick was a freshman in high school. Over the years, he became more involved and now helps in virtually every area of the business. Ultimately, Nick helped bring Phyter bars to Sendik’s Fresh2Go, which his mother Gloria Athanis said she attributes largely to her son’s hard work and business skills.

However, Nick said he believes it had more to do with his status as a student.

“I think it just helped, the fact that I was a student and I wasn’t just a random person coming up and asking them to put my product in the store,” Nick said. “I was at the store when (Gloria) pitched the idea to them, and they decided to try it out.”

Sendik’s spokesman Nick Bandoch said that Phyter Food provides a unique product to the Marquette community.

“It’s got a lot of really good qualities and I think it’s something that people are looking for: that clean snacking or healthy snacking,” Bandoch said.

Phyter began when David Choi Jr., a Buddhist Korean chef and longtime friend of the Athanis family, approached Gloria about starting a business together.

The company was initially designed as a set of classes in which Choi would come and teach a family, school or business about healthy vegan cooking, but the Phyter bar is where the company took off.

“My mom started telling me that they were going to start making this bar,” Nick said. “I remember she kept giving me samples and would ask me what I liked and didn’t like and what flavors they should add. From there, it just gradually took off.”

At first, Nick’s job was to go to stores and demo the bars for customers. Gloria said her son was eager to help out from the very beginning.

“(Nick) demoed for me at all the stores, so when I needed somebody to go and demo that I could count on, he would go set up a table and do them,” Gloria said.

As sales increased, Nick moved into the kitchen to help Choi make the bars.

“He was David’s right hand guy and helped to make the bars, and he cleaned the kitchen every day,” Gloria said.

Nick’s experience with Phyter Foods ultimately inspired him to switch majors and study marketing at Marquette. He said that what inspired him most was the realization that business can be used to do good in the community.

“I realized that there can be some real good in doing business that’s good for everyone,” Nick said. “It’s good for us because we’re getting good business, but it’s good for the people who are buying it because they are getting nutritious food that’s healthy for you.”

He said his studies and work often go hand in hand.

“I’m learning a lot in my classes, but I’m also learning a lot just from working with the company and hearing my mom talk about things,” Nick said. “I’m going to (Gloria) often and asking her things about what I learned in class.”

Looking forward, Gloria said she is counting on Nick to help her expand Phyter Foods’ prominence in the Wisconsin markets. For now, she says she and Nick have both grown immensely through this experience.

“My heart is so full because he is enjoying being part of the company,” Gloria said. “It means a lot to me.”

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About the Writer
Josh Anderson, News Reporter

Josh is a news reporter for the Marquette Wire. He is a freshman from Minnetonka, Minnesota majoring in public relations.

1 Comment

One Response to “Business student brings family company’s nutrition bars to Sendik’s, expands horizons”

  1. Jayne Gubelman on October 3rd, 2017 3:57 pm

    What a great article. I love that mother and son are working together. I have had Phyter bars and I can say they are delicious. I have one every day now!

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