FAIRBANK — “Thank you for coming.”
A pair of happy voices ring out in unison. Tied up women stare at each other, trying to play with it.
Almost five minutes later, another customer leaves Balanced Nutrition.
“Thank you for coming”, we hear almost identical and joyful voices.
Ava VanDaele watches her older sister Elsie.
“We have to stop doing this,” the younger brother said as Jacob Schoer looked from brother to brother.
Balanced Nutrition Fairbank’s Day 12, like most in its two-week run, is exuberant.
Herbalife nutritional marketer Lori Hoskyn opened Power Health in Coralville four years ago, focusing on shakes and tea-based beverages. She is also the owner of Branch Out Nutrition in West Branch. His son owns 365 Nutrition in North Liberty, his daughter owns Good Vibes Nutrition in Williamsburg, and there are 10 other clubs in the organization.
Elsie is a student at the University of Iowa, in junior with a double major in dance and business management.
Elsie began visiting her great-aunt’s Coralville store as a customer and later as an employee.
“She has a bunch of businesses that are all similar and based on healthy eating,” Elsie said. “She kind of planted the idea in my head, ‘That would be great for the community of Fairbank and the surrounding areas.’ And it also seemed like a good business opportunity.
The first conversation between the great-aunt, great-niece and the VanDaele family took place on June 1. Thirteen weeks later, the store opened. The location is a room adjacent to VanDaele Insurance which Father Chad says was a rest/storage room prior to the renovation. Having this space available helped to speed up the opening schedule.
Ava’s family, friends and classmates helped with the renovation as Elsie became a Certified Herbalife Coach and Distributor. She went on to train Ava’s current staff, Jacob Schoer and Payten Seehase.
“It was fun to see it all come together,” said renovation crew member Mason Harter. “I like it because it’s an easy place to grab a healthy shake or tea. It’s always great to have a place in town that isn’t something we already have.
Another Harter offered an inspiring moment.
The Key Business Grant Program is a staple of the Buchanan County Economic Development Commission. Its goal “to attract and retain businesses essential to the economic and social well-being of the community,” according to its website. “Funded projects must have the goal of investing in the community’s tax base, creating and maintaining permanent jobs, or providing a unique service within Buchanan County communities.”
The late Mike Harter encouraged the VanDaeles to apply.
“He was one of the people that pushed me to do it too,” Chad said after a long pause. “When I pitched the idea to him, he was like, ‘You should go to (BCEDC). They’re going to love this idea.
Another beat as Chad contemplates the encouragement of the former mayor of Fairbank.
“He was instrumental in it, saying, ‘There’s a grant there for you, Chad. Go and get it.’
If you didn’t have people like that who know what it really means to give back to the community…” Chad continues before stopping again.
The BCEDC grant was awarded in mid-August. VanDaele called it “a substantial investment”.
“We filled out the application and it gave us some money to start with and helped us stick to our schedule so we pushed for the place to be open rather than dithering about it,” she said. declared. “The grant has helped boost our energy to achieve this. It was amazing. And it went quickly, but it was really, really helpful.
Ava walks into the break room.
“A quarter of a teaspoon of tea, ice and water,” VanDaele replied.
Ava, Elsie, Schoer and Seehase are among the current staff. Schoer is Ava and Elsie’s cousin. Seehase allowed them to enter a Sumner market, and social media and word of mouth have early fingerprints reaching Oelwein, Jesup and points in between.
“When my family said they wanted to start a nutrition club like my great-aunt’s, I was a little unsure, to be honest,” Ava said. “I didn’t really like the products, but I never really gave them a chance at the same time. But I’m very interested in nutrition and fitness, so I was excited as well.
On this day, Ava is constantly moving. She does a quality control test on request and occasionally jokes with Schoer and her sister.
“I really love seeing all the faces that come through the door,” Ava said. “I think it was a great addition to Fairbank that I’m proud to be a part of.”
Schoer floats between filling orders and meticulously positioning stickers on takeout cups.
“The way Elsie put this business together was awesome,” Schoer said. “It means a lot to the opportunity to work there, and it wouldn’t have been possible without my cousin.”
Seehase added, “It’s truly amazing to see how Fairbank and the surrounding towns have supported this tremendous undertaking. I am very grateful for the opportunity Elsie gave me and I look forward to seeing this business grow.
The store has a daily clientele, and a broader knowledge of its community. Chad can hear everything through the back door of his own office.
“’Good to see you today’, ‘Hey, how was your race yesterday?’ added Chad. “(My kids are smiling, they’re confident… It’s a more personal way to interact, and they’re realizing new things about our community.
“Then you see their growth working together,” he says again, smiling. “There’s no monetary value to something like this.”
The melancholy depends on another factor – VanDaele’s upbringing.
While Balanced Nutrition is a de facto master’s degree, Elsie still has two years ahead of her in Iowa. She will work from Iowa City, helping both Hoskyn in Coralville and managing Fairbank remotely.
Ava, Jake and Peyton will work early in the morning until it’s time to go to school. Chad and Amber will take care of the rest of the day, like anyone else the family recruits. Ava and Jake are close enough to come around noon or in an emergency.
“A lot of customers have asked, ‘What’s going to happen when you go back to school? ‘” Elsie said. “We will always be here. We will always be here.