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The Ultimate

Jon Resneck on the Rise of Ultimate Product Distributors & Possible Super Hero Status

If you’ve ever bought a vape at a convenience store or smoke shop, you can thank Jon Resnick.

The CEO and founder of Ultimate Product Distributors (UPD) was the first to suggest that vaping products should be sold alongside cigarettes. If that seems obvious, well, that’s how the greatest ideas always look in the rearview mirror.

“At that time, about 15 years ago, they weren’t selling e-cigarettes in convenience stores or smoke shops. They were only selling online,” he says. “Keep in mind the big national tobacco companies and distributors were not interested in electronic cigarettes, so there was no distribution for it.”

Building off that success, Resnick now heads a massive company from an office adorned with comic books. That makes sense, too. Despite his calm presence and low speaking style, Resnick is somewhat of a superhero himself.

The Origin Story

Resnick’s rise to the top was far from guaranteed. He admits he never seemed like the type to break big.

“When I was young, I got my Series 7 license when I was working under the wing of the Wolf of Wall Street. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time,” he said. “I learned how to sell there, but I realized I can only sell things I believe in. I didn’t really believe in the cockamamie they were selling, you know, these penny stocks. So, I quit and sold fax machines door to door.”

As he pounded the pavement, Resnick would regularly stop in to talk shop with convenience store owners. Those conversations led him to know the business on a level that was rare for sales agents at the time. Over time, he put that knowledge to work, finding new products for shop owners that would sell.

“After I finished with fax machines, I did a few odd things. I sold real estate for a friend of mine. But I always came back to working with the smoke shops and convenience stores,” he said. “Now, they’re the core of all my products.”

His inflection point came at the dawn of vaping products.

“My big breakthrough came with blu eCigs,” Resnick recalls. “I went to them and said that I’d like to put their product in smoke shops and convenience stores. And that became a big hit. After blu, O.P.M.S. Kratom came to me. I felt it was a good product, so I worked with them, and we made kratom a household name by putting that in retail outlets nationwide. Then, in ’16, I was asked to take on Juul e-cigarettes, and I became the largest distributor they ever had. We’ve easily done over a billion dollars with them.”

Avengers Assemble

But it’s not just the idea to sell vapes next to cigarettes that made UPD a success. To hear Resnick tell it, success is as much about the execution as strategy.

“I pick good items and I use a very specific master distribution method,” he says. “I choose distributors around different states who I can rely on, and they sell to smaller distributors who go directly to stores. We all work together to make sure the price stays consistent, and the stores get coverage.”

That teamwork is key. It’s what allowed blu to grow, and what today draws companies toward the magnetic pull that UPD exerts on the market.

“I have very strong teams of guys that work with me. They’re smart, and they watch what’s going on. We go to the shows. We keep our eyes open. And quite frankly, the success that I had with Juul and the kratom and blu early on has led companies to seek me out. Most of the time, we just do our research,” Resnick says.

“Tyson came to me, and I formed a partnership with Midwest distributors where we successfully sold the entire country. The success we had there led to us working with other new names, like Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, and Ric Flair. Everybody comes to us!”

To Infinity and Beyond

What’s one more world-changing idea?

From his desk beneath a giant painting of Thomas Edison—a personal hero—Resnick is still paving the way for new products to reach consumers. He’s got his eyes set on the future, something that won’t get bogged down with regulations. 

“My latest thing is VAE energy. Somebody came to me saying they’ve got this VAE Energy pocket coffee spray that’s been on Shark Tank,” he says. “It’s a Binaca Blast, essentially; a coffee spray. It’s strictly caffeine and just super effective. I’m going to be running the entire country on it. I see it as like the next big thing. Everyone does coffee; there’s no restrictions.”

As he discusses the product, he radiates a calm enthusiasm that feels infectious. While he may wear the suit of a CEO, that’s just his alter ego. Resnick is, at his core, a natural salesman.

“It’s very useful. It’s the evolution of drinking coffee—just having it on you, in your pocket. You only need three sprays. I use it every day.

Everybody in the office uses it. We’re giving it to everybody—businesses, college sports, anybody. Just take three sprays, and you’re wide awake. End of story,” he says.

“I’m gonna be the Walt Disney of this product. I’m gonna take it, market it, make it big,” he says. “I put a few million into it. People already like it. We’re just working on awareness right now.”

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