by Jordan Green

Monitoring the economic pulse of the Triad

Where Winston-Salem fits in the Herbalife model

As long as unflattering attention — a high-profile hedge fund investor characterizes the company as a Ponzi scheme and the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an inquiry — doesn’t cause Herbalife to implode, the company’s plans to establish a manufacturing facility in the shell of the old Dell plant have to be counted as a positive for Winston-Salem.

The incentives granted by the city of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County come with clawback provisions if the company doesn’t meet performance standards for employees hired and dollars invested.

After all, the 493 new employees in Winston-Salem will be making and shipping a product — a sure thing. They’ll have a guaranteed paycheck in return for their labor hours.

That’s not a given for the distributors who sell products for Herbalife, Greensboro-based Market America, Amway, Avon and other multi-level marketing companies.

A Jan. 10 investigative report by describes how Nicole Lopez, an Herbalife distributor in Utah, lost $10,000 trying to sell the company’s weight-loss shakes and nutritional supplements, including a $1,000 investment in leads that didn’t pan out.

Lopez told “If you’re an honest person and you want to do an honest business, there’s no way you can succeed.”

The report said Herbalife has reimbursed her and called her situation a result of “bad mentoring.”