Bonneville County Heritage Association: Hometown Hero

Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot Receives ‘Hometown Hero’ Award

Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot was honored as a “Hometown Hero” in a special awards ceremony.  The event recognized Frank for his lifelong economic and philanthropic contributions to enhancing communities throughout the state of Idaho, and it occurred during the annual Idaho Day Celebration held by the Bonneville County Heritage Association.

Frank grew up on a small ranch in the rural town of Cocolalla, Idaho. Because his father worked on the railroad and traveled five days a week, Frank took over the responsibilities of the family’s farm when he was just 12 years old. He points out this lifechanging experience taught him the importance of hard work, the value of consistency, the power of grit, and a love for nature.

Those personal qualities have translated into decades of success at Melaleuca, The Wellness Company, founded in Idaho Falls in Sept. 1985. As CEO, Frank has led it to becoming one of the largest privately held companies in Idaho and a significant player in the consumer goods industry. Melaleuca is currently the state’s largest ecommerce company, with annual revenues of more than $2 billion.

Rosemarie Doxie, who presented the award to Frank at the Museum of Idaho on April 9, 2022, highlighted Melaleuca’s economic impact: It generated 4,914 jobs, accounting for nearly 7% of all jobs in Bonneville, Jefferson and Madison Counties, according to a 2018 economic impact study. And it’s only grown since then.

A Few of Frank’s Local Contributions

Beyond the economic windfall that Melaleuca has produced for the state of Idaho, Doxie said that Frank’s local charitable actions were what led the judges to name him a Hometown Hero honor. In Doxie’s presentation, she specifically emphasized these philanthropic points:

  • At a cost of over $2 million, Frank and his wife, Belinda, restored the historic New Sweden Schoolhouse to its former glory before donating its use to the American Heritage Charter School. Eight years later, this public school is ranked as one of the state’s top performers.
  • In an effort to save family farms and help the local agricultural industry survive, Frank bought a cheese plant that Kraft had closed down in Blackfoot, Idaho. He risked over $4 million to save the factory and pay the dairies what the previous organization owed them. His only interest was to help the situation by giving the dairymen somewhere to send their milk. He estimated his losses at $500,000 and said that was the best money he’s ever lost. Because of his philanthropic efforts, Frank saved over 115 family farms and more than 800 jobs during that time. Years later, most of those dairies are still in business because that plant remained open.
  • Frank and Belinda spent over $1 million defending Idahoans from overly aggressive medical debt collectors and attorneys, which led to the Idaho Patient Act being passed into law in 2020.
  • Under Frank’s direction, the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration has fired the largest fireworks show west of the Mississippi River each Independence Day. Now in its 29th year, the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration brings families together and unites the community in a spirit of patriotism and gratitude for America’s Founding Fathers, veterans, and Service Members.
  • Frank saved minor league baseball from leaving Idaho Falls by stepping in with a $600,000 donation. The local team, the Idaho Falls Chukars, an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, was planning on leaving the region due to a lack of funding to construct a new ballpark. This donation enabled “Melaleuca Field” to be built and America’s pastime to stay close to home.
  • Frank has donated the use of Melaleuca’s downtown office space to the Idaho Falls Police Department, alleviating some of the overcrowding issue they faced.
  • Under Frank’s leadership, Melaleuca paid for a new event center at the Bonneville County fairgrounds that is constantly used by youth education groups.

“It’s clear that Frank’s commitment to enhancing lives has never wavered,” said Doxie, Bonneville County Heritage Association vice chair. “By honoring Frank as a Hometown Hero and recording his charitable impact, we showcase our rich history as a community full of generous citizens who are passionate about preserving our place in America. We are proud to call him a Hometown Hero.”