The booming skin care business has made Lund a very rich man. He was Nu Skin’s CEO for five years, owned $31.9 million in company stock and was paid $1.2 million in compensation last year, according to the company’s proxy statement.
One of the Nu Skin’s bestselling products, the Galvanic Spa System, uses a mild electric current to push cosmetics into the skin. Products used with the hand-held electric wand can cost $45 for one fluid ounce. Nu Skin says one of its product lines targets the genes that cause aging; the company’s chief science officer recently wrote a bestselling book called “The Aging Myth,” saying in a promotional video that “aging is not inevitable.”
The company he founded with three friends out of one of their homes in 1984 has grown to $1.5 billion in annual sales, occasionally inviting controversy.
Nu Skin, faced a series of investigations in the early 1990s into its business model and the financial and health claims made by its distributors. It paid a $1.2 million settlement to the Federal Trade Commission in 1994 over health claims made for its products and still operates under a consent decree with the commission. The possibility of tightened federal regulation could pose a threat to profits.
But friends dismissed any suggestion that Lund’s donations to Romney would be aimed at averting harmful federal regulations or investigations.
Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who worked for Nu Skin for over a decade, said that Lund has supported his campaigns but never asked for anything in return.
“He doesn’t have this big agenda strapped to his arm,” Chaffetz said.
A company spokeswoman said the donation didn’t involve Nu Skin.
Nu Skin’s founders previously agreed to a $20 million sponsorship of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which Romney ran. The deal allowed Nu Skin to put the Olympic logo its products. Lund and his wife gave an additional $506,000 to the Salt Lake City Olympic committee through their personal foundation, according to tax records.
Lund took a three-year break from Nu Skin beginning in 2003 to serve as president of the Atlanta mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to the mission’s Web site. A spokesman for the Mormon Church said Lund is now a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy, one of the highest levels for a part-time church officer and in charge of churches for tens of thousands of Mormons.
Even in that position of power, it is Lund’s measured personality that draws attention --a trait that is reflected in several online interviews.
One video shows him perched on a stool on stage at a Nu Skin convention singing a song. He wears a dark suit, his top button undone and his tie loosened. He is a young 57, with his thin frame, dark hair and somewhat awkward bearing.
Which raises the question: Does he use Nu Skin products?
“Yeah, absolutely,” his friend Lindley says. “All the time.”
Staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.