Catawba College Alumna Amy Alderman MacKay ’93 of Wilmington is running her family’s business and loving it. Her company only sells one product at present, but by all reports that one product is a retail hit.
MacKay oversees the production, distribution, sales and marketing of Wounded Warrior Ointment, an all natural topical ointment that her father, Red Alderman, developed in the late 1980s after several years of experimentation. At that time, he was in the business of supplying herbs grown in the N.C. mountains to pharmaceutical, cosmetic and natural product companies around the world. For years, he shared the concoction, Wounded Warrior Ointment, with family, friends and neighbors until word of mouth and popularity of the product helped establish the Wounded Warrior Company in 1989.
“My dad had a professional fisherman ask him what he would use for sore hands and fingers,” MacKay recalled. “We had a lab associated with the business at that time, and we made up batches. People used it on burns, bug bites, on their horses, cats…. When people would run out of what dad had given them, they called and wanted more, so we started making it in larger quantities and marketing it in health food stores in Boone. Slowly but surely, word of mouth spread the news of Wounded Warrior.”
Wounded Warrior Ointment, touted as “a medicine chest in a bottle,” is made from wildcrafted or organically grown herbs that are processed, while still fresh, in pharmaceutical grade alcohol, derived from corn. The extraction process for each herb follows the standards of the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the U.S. and the extracts are then blended into aloe vera gel. The ointment’s shelf life is indefinite; the company has a test bottle it has been using for 15 years and the ointment is still effective.
The logo for both the ointment and the company brings to mind the Native Americans’ use of natural herbs for medicinal purposes. It incorporates a red- tail hawk holding a branch of ginseng and a crescent moon that includes the face of a Native American in its outline. “We’ve always used Native American type names for company products,” MacKay explained. “That’s what our family is interested in.”
As Mr. Alderman began moving toward retirement, he gave the company to his three daughters, tapping daughter Amy to run its day-to-day operations. When she took over in 2000, the ointment was available in 130 stores in 18 states. Today, Wounded Warrior is available in over 800 stores in 32 states and via the company’s website at www.woundedwarriorointment.com
or the company’s 800 number, 1-800-232-7713, which MacKay herself answers.
“We’ve grown from a word of mouth business to what we are today,” she said, with pride in her voice. “It’s almost an obsession for some people. We have a really loyal customer base.”
The company now depends on a manufacturing company in Brevard to grow, harvest and mix the ingredients to make Wounded Warrior Ointment.
And, as the popularity of Wounded Warrior Ointment has increased, so has the list of disparate ailments it is used to treat. The company’s website notes that key topical uses of Wounded Warrior include abrasions, acne, bites, blisters, burns, cuts, fever blisters, inflammation, itching, mosquito bites, poison ivy, rashes, sunburn, sun poison, wound healing and pain relief. The site notes that customers have told them that they have used the ointment effectively on bee stings, cracked fingers, earaches, nail fungus, new scars, open sores, fire ant bites, cold sores, pierced ears, psoriasis, radiation sores, shingles, warts, eczema, diabetic lesions, jock itch and Darier’s Disease.
MacKay and husband Will Cocke are parents to daughter Lilli and make their home in Wilmington. MacKay’s father lives in Florida and serves as consultant for the family company. Her two sisters, Ashley and Alison make their home in Wilmington and Tallahassee, Florida, respectively.
MacKay said for now plans are for the company to continue as a family- owned and run business “for which we forecast steady growth for the Wounded Warrior Ointment product. We have other products for which development has been completed and others which will require additional development,” she noted.
“Our plans are to gradually introduce these products over a period of several years all being linked to the Wounded Warrior brand,” she continued. “As everyone knows, product development and marketing is expensive. With our priorities focused on the ointment, we can only bring new products to market as capital is generated. Our goal is to have the Wounded Warrior brand recognized as a premium natural health care product.”