Corinna Geib of ImmuneSchein Ginger Elixir recently spent some time with the Times Herald Union's David Axelrod at our facility in West Hurley, NY.
Link to Article by David Axelrod
WEST HURLEY – Corinna Geib smells onions when she time-travels. She closes her eyes, and she’s back in grandpa Wolfgang Paulic’s kitchen in the Schwäbische Alb highlands of southwest Germany in the early 1980s.
He’s toiling over a boiling medicinal meld as the scent wafts from windows. Raw rock sugar melts, and herbs roll in the hot water with black roots. She knew better than to scoff. His tinctures cured every cousin’s cough.
Little did a young Geib, now 40, know then, but more than 30 years later she’s the one making the herbal drinks in her fast-growing Ulster County elixir business, ImmuneSchein. Geib and her husband, Jason, use just three main, unadulterated ingredients – local honey, organic lemon and organic ginger – with one additional ingredient added to each of the company’s 11 flavors.
Since founding the business in 2013, the Geibs have grown from selling a smattering of bottles made in an 800-square-foot test kitchen in Accord to producing up to 120,000 per year, while generating $750,000 in annual sales. Some day, they want to be a nationwide brand.
Besides drinking it straight, customers use the elixirs to flavor cocktails, tea, seltzer, salad dressings, marinades and even popsicles.
This month marks the first anniversary of the Geibs’ expansion to a 6,000-square-foot plant in West Hurley from the ImmuneSchein Tea Haus in Rosendale, where they were based from November 2014 to December 2016.
The company’s classic flavor, made with just honey, lemon and ginger, remains a hit, but other big sellers include the same ingredients mixed respectively with cardamom, Ceylon cinnamon, Citra hops, garlic, Hibiscus, lavender, turmeric and yerba mate. A holiday elderberry variety is tart and tangy.
“They’re an amazing success story, and they’ve truly found a niche,” said Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ward Todd, who thinks the company’s proximity to world-famous Woodstock, and its health-conscious consumers, has helped it grow. “I know people who buy their products throughout the Northeast. I drink it daily.”
Grandpa Wolfgang, now in his late 80s and still living happily with grandma Margarethe, may have sold windows and doors for a living, but herbalism was his passionate pastime. And all Corinna Geib’s summer family retreats at his country house, plucking tender plums, munching on his apples, strolling amid the strawberries, while always steering clear of his cacti collection, had a profound effect on her.
The Geibs sell about a quarter of their elixir through farmers’ markets, nearly a third online at immune-schein.com, and rest is wholesaled to retailers, including health food stores, resort-spas and gift shops. Most people buy the 8.5-ounce bottles for $15.95, though the company also carries 2-ounce and 1-liter offerings.
“The product is so phenomenal it sells itself,” said Wendy Westcott, an independent sales representative, who has placed the elixir in stores throughout the Northeast.
“I have a running joke that ImmuneSchein is like crack, and I should just give it away for free, because people just come right back to buy it,” said Tam Grant, owner of the Sandalwood Stone store in the hamlet of Marietta in Onondaga County.
Jason Geib, 43, smiles when he reflects on the spread of ImmuneSchein. He too had little idea he’d someday be making elixir.
The Oklahoma native met his German national wife by chance 10 years ago, when the two were traveling on business and staying at the same hotel. As a hotel employee looked for a phone book for Jason, he and Corinna struck up a conversation at the front desk. They stayed in touch, fell in love and married in 2009.
Last year, for the first time, Jason decided that ImmuneSchein – a play on the German word for “shine” and how they hope the product makes people’s immune systems feel – was finally strong enough for him to quit his day job.