Three franchise partners are working to bring the ancient Polynesian fruit, "Noni" to Dorchester and surrounding communities in 8.33-ounce cans.
Called HIRO, these drinks are among the newest of the Utah- based, multi-billion dollar company Tahitian Noni International. Steve Davis, 39, calls HIRO "a healthier beverage line" that combines juice from this small, bumpy, pale-green fruit with other ingredients.
Davis, originally from Indiana, works from his Fields Corner home, and Winston Casey, a New Yorker, works from his home on Savin Hill. They met each other through their wives, both natives of Boston. "We struck up a relationship, a friendship, and we wanted to make some money," said Casey.
Davis had been working in lease financing and wanted a career change. Casey directed music videos and worked on feature films.
"This was something I saw as a way to be able to finance myself and not be going through a lot of debt," Casey said. They started working together in 2002.
Calling their partnership "Organized Noni" they sold a variety of Tahitian Noni International products. The company produces everything from lifestyle beverages to skin and hair care to equine and canine supplements. Tahitian Noni International also has 11 restaurants and 18 stores worldwide, according to the company's website.
"There'll probably be one landing in Boston, within a year, we hope," said Davis.
Tom Pace, who had lived in Dorchester for 13 years, joined the pair about three years ago, after getting hooked on the Noni-based juice.
"It's a good business to be in when you help somebody and make money at that," Pace, 37, said.
Since then, the trio's partnership has grown to include 30 others, many working in the Boston area. Davis said having a team under the Organized Noni umbrella allows them to educate, train, and run promotions together, while still maintaining their titles as independent distributors.
The product they are pushing hard this year is HIRO, which comes in five varieties, all targeting a specific need. The four major kinds are: "Mobility," to assist the joints; "Energy," to get-up-and-go; "Vitality," to aid the immune system; and "Thermo," to burn calories. The newest line is "Super Fruits," a 100 percent sparkling fruit juice product.
Tahitian Noni juice was the company's only product when it was first launched in 1996. The company "was the first to introduce the benefits of Noni to the world," according to its website. It combines the Noni fruit in pureed form with other juices and natural flavors for a boost of anti-oxidants. The original juice sells on the company's website for $42 for a 1-liter bottle.
The HIRO line of beverages is "a little more cost-effective than buying a $45 bottle of juice," said Casey, and caters to a wide range of people.
Typically selling at $2.99 to $3.60 a can, Davis said, the stores they sell it to "usually have drinks that are competitive in price but they don't deliver the same type of benefit," adding that, "We try to get in the ethnic communities that have heard of it."
Another way they hope to spread the word about HIRO beverages is through campus tours, called "Campus HIROs." Davis and Casey said they want to give back and help others give back to the community by getting college students to sign up for walks like Project Bread's Walk for Hunger. Everyone that registers, Casey says, will get a free can of HIRO. He calls it a "functional beverage with a cause."
The trio is also looking to recruit more business partners in the future. Pace called the distributorship a "unique opportunity for the average person." Casey called it a "stimulus package," for those in the community to earn money.
Consumers can purchase HIRO and other Tahitian Noni products online, over the phone, or in a handful of stores, restaurants, and gyms across Boston. Locations in Dorchester include Irie Jamaican Restaurant on Bowdoin Street and Courthouse Convenience in Codman Square.