In 1998, VanderSloot received the Idaho Business Leader of the Year award from Idaho State University. In 2001, he was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the U.S. Northwestern region. He was inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Idaho Hometown Hero medal in 2011. VanderSloot received the Horatio Alger Award and became a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans in 2015. He was named fifth on the list of "100 Influential Idahoans of 2015" by the Ridenbaugh Press. VanderSloot was presented the Patriot Award in 2015 by the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) for his support of soldiers.
VanderSloot was born on August 14, 1948, to Peter Francis (Frank) VanderSloot (1913–1982) and Margaret May Christensen Sindberg-Woodley VanderSloot (1915–2004). The family lived in Sheridan, Wyoming and Hardin, Montana before moving in 1949 to Cocolalla, Idaho, where they lived on a ranch. The elder VanderSloot worked as a Painter for the Northern Pacific Railway. Frank VanderSloot graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1966. At the age of 16, he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), and later studied at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he worked and lived as a cleaner at a laundromat. After two semesters, he left school to serve a two-and-a-half-year LDS Mission in the Netherlands. Following his mission, he earned an associate’s degree in Business at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. He then returned to Brigham Young University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in marketing in 1972.
In 1985, VanderSloot founded Melaleuca Inc., a multi-level marketing company that sells environmentally friendly nutritional supplements, cleaning supplies, and personal-care products, and he has been President and chief executive officer ever since. Melaleuca operates internationally, with U.S. operations centered in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Knoxville, Tennessee. Customers buy directly from Melaleuca's website or Retail locations and "independent marketing executives" receive commissions from Melaleuca for each purchase made by people they refer and by people their customers refer, through seven "referral generations". The company refers to this arrangement as "Consumer Direct Marketing," a term it has trademarked.
Inc. magazine included Melaleuca on its Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States every year from 1990 to 1994 before inducting the company into its Hall of Fame in 1994. According to a 2004 article by Phyllis Berman, Melaleuca’s sales flattened in 1998, and VanderSloot "discovered that some senior Directors were living off their residuals and doing little in the way of recruitment." This resulted in "a new policy that reduced payments to those who didn't either bring in new converts or help others do so." As of 2004, the company's revenue had grown at a compound annual rate of 12 percent. The company has large international operations, and 25 percent of its revenue comes from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The company reported in 2005 that one in 60 Taiwanese households purchased Melaleuca products monthly, and a 2014 article reported that one in every 300 American households is a customer. Melaleuca reported gross sales in excess of one billion dollars in 2011 and $1.13 billion in 2012. In Idaho Falls, Melaleuca has a local workforce of about 2,000 employees.
Between 1991 and 1997, Melaleuca was investigated by Michigan regulators, the Idaho attorney general's office, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for various marketing violations. In 1991 Melaleuca received a cease-and-desist order for violating Michigan’s anti–pyramid scheme laws. In 1992, Melaleuca signed a consent decree with the states of Michigan and Idaho agreeing to "not engage in the marketing and promotion of an illegal pyramid." By September of that year, "officials in both states cleared the company's marketing plan and blamed 'renegade' distributors for any problems." In its voluntary agreement, the Idaho Attorney General found the company's policies and product catalog did not violate Idaho law, but that "certain independent marketing executives of Melaleuca... failed to comply with certain policies of Melaleuca, and that the actions of these independent marketing executives are in violation of Idaho law." In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent Melaleuca a warning letter for "false and misleading" claims about two of its supplements.
In 1993, VanderSloot served on the Taxation Task Force of the White House Conference on Small Business.
In 1994, VanderSloot was approached by two dairy farmers with a plea to invest in the Snake River Cheese factory in Blackfoot, Idaho, after Kraft Foods had announced a decision to close it. Kraft had operated the plant since the early 1920s. In response, VanderSloot bought a $1 million interest in the plant, and an investment company assumed control, but the operation closed anyway within six months. VanderSloot then paid off a $2 million debt the company owed to the dairymen, staffed the plant with his own personnel and supplemented the milking herd with two thousand head of cattle. He promised that all five hundred people whose jobs depended on the plant would remain employed and leased the plant to Beatrice Cheese, a subsidiary of ConAgra. In 1999, the facility netted $278 million in sales. The next year, VanderSloot sold his interest in the company to Suprema Specialties after Beatrice broke its lease. VanderSloot again promised that employees would keep their jobs. In 2006, the factory, which by then had been renamed as the Blackfoot Cheese Company, was sold to Sartori Foods, and in 2013, the plant was purchased from Sartori by Glanbia Foods, Inc.
VanderSloot resides in Idaho Falls, Idaho, with his wife, Belinda VanderSloot (née Boyack), whom he married in 1995. Together they have fourteen children: six from Frank VanderSloot’s two prior marriages, and eight from Belinda VanderSloot’s first marriage. VanderSloot was previously married to Kathleen VanderSloot (née Zundel) and to Vivian VanderSloot, his second wife.
In 1998, VanderSloot received the Idaho Business Leader of the Year award from Idaho State University. In 2001, he was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the U.S. Northwestern region. He was inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Idaho Hometown Hero medal in 2011. VanderSloot received the Horatio Alger Award and became a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans in 2015. He was named fifth on the list of "100 Influential Idahoans of 2015" by the Ridenbaugh Press. VanderSloot was presented the Patriot Award in 2015 by the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) for his support of Soldiers.
In 1999 VanderSloot sponsored billboards around Idaho asking "Should public television promote the homosexual lifestyle to your children? Think about it!" in reference to It's Elementary, a 1999 PBS documentary exploring how four schools dealt with homosexuality. VanderSloot's wife Belinda donated $100,000 to the Proposition 8 initiative to rescind gay marriage in California, and volunteers used Melaleuca's call center after hours to persuade California voters to support the measure.
VanderSloot spent more than $100,000 on independent advertising on three winning judicial campaigns, two for Idaho Supreme Court and one for district judge in Bonneville County. VanderSloot and Melaleuca were financial supporters of the PAC Concerned Citizens for Family Values. The PAC ran ads targeting incumbent Idaho Supreme Court Justice Cathy Silak during her 2000 re-election campaign against challenger Daniel T. Eismann. The ads alleged that if Silak were re-elected, same-sex marriage and "partial-birth abortion" could have become legal in Idaho.
In 2002, VanderSloot and Melaleuca contributed more than $50,000 opposing the election bid of Democrat Keith Roark, a former Blaine County prosecutor, for Idaho Attorney General. The contributions included a $35,000 donation to Roark’s Republican opponent, Lawrence Wasden, and a $16,500 donation to Concerned Citizens for Family Values, an organization run by VanderSloot, to pay for attack ads against Roark in Eastern Idaho. That year, VanderSloot and Melaleuca also donated $7,000 towards Republican Dirk Kempthorne’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign .
In 2003, VanderSloot founded the Melaleuca Foundation, a private 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The Melaleuca Foundation has been a financial contributor to the Santa Lucia Children's Home (Hogar Santa Lucia), an orphanage in Quito, Ecuador. In 2005, VanderSloot flew to Baton Rouge to deliver supplies to shelters after Hurricane Katrina and helped three displaced families with transportation issues. In 2007, VanderSloot's company Melaleuca received the Salvation Army Others Award for helping with relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
VanderSloot does not publicly disclose his personal worth;' however, in 2004, Forbes magazine estimated that Melaleuca was worth $1.4 billion and that VanderSloot's share of the company (55 percent of the voting stock and 44 percent of the nonvoting stock), was worth $700 million. According to Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman, the company's value had grown to between $3.2 billion and $3.9 billion by 2011, and VanderSloot's net worth was estimated at more than $1 billion. In 2012, the Land Report listed VanderSloot as the 92nd largest landowner in the United States. In 2013, VanderSloot was listed by Business Insider as the wealthiest individual in the state of Idaho, with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. In 2017, VanderSloot was listed in the Forbes 400 as the 302nd wealthiest American with a net worth of $2.7 billion.
In 2006, VanderSloot took out two full-page advertisements in the Idaho Falls Post Register criticizing a series of investigative articles by Journalist Peter Zuckerman in the Post Register concerning incidents of child molestation by a Boy Scout Director in the Grand Teton Council. The advertisements caused media controversy for allegedly outing Zuckerman, drawing criticism from television political commentator Rachel Maddow, Glenn Greenwald in Salon magazine, the editorial page of the Boise Weekly, Post Register Editor Dean Miller, and Zuckerman himself.
VanderSloot was one of 47 Finance co-chairs for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign and served under eight Finance chairs. He also served as a Finance co-chair for Romney's 2012 presidential campaign. In 2012, VanderSloot’s companies contributed $1.1 million to the Restore Our Future political action committee, which was supporting Romney for President. According to VanderSloot, he raised between $2 million and $5 million for the Romney campaign.
In 2010 VanderSloot funded two PACs that launched last-minute ads against Idaho 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, a Democrat, during his electoral run for state Supreme Court against Republican incumbent Justice Roger Burdick. VanderSloot donated $19,000 to the PAC Idaho Citizens for Justice and financed the PAC Citizens for Commonsense Solutions. Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa announced that the PACs were fined $1,900 collectively for failing to appoint a certified treasurer prior to accepting contributions from VanderSloot and for failing to disclose large expenditures for its ads before the election, as required by law.
VanderSloot was the owner of HighStone (formerly Eagle Rock Construction; RBH Gravel; VIP Construction), an Idaho Falls-based asphalt construction and maintenance company. HighStone was the prime contractor on a $421,000 state government contract to repair a stretch of Idaho State Highway 33 in Idaho Falls, and worked on a road project in Rexburg. In September 2011, HighStone merged with DePatco, a family-owned heavy construction company in St. Anthony, Idaho. The merger created eastern Idaho's largest locally owned construction company.
In February 2012, VanderSloot Farms purchased a property from the Idaho Falls School District 91 for $121,000. VanderSloot financed renovations of a building on the site, the New Sweden School, which had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and donated the entire parcel to the American Heritage Charter School. Inaugurated in August 2013, the charter school is modeled after the North Valley Academy in Gooding, Idaho, and bases its curriculum on the Core Knowledge Program established by E.D. Hirsch.
In January 2013, VanderSloot filed a defamation lawsuit against Mother Jones magazine and two of its employees, seeking nearly $75,000 in damages, alleging that the magazine depicted him as a "gay-basher" in a February 2012 article titled "Pyramid-like Company Ponies Up $1 Million for Mitt Romney" and in two tweets promoting the article. In October 2015, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that "all of the statements at issue are non-actionable truth or substantial truth", although the judge also criticized the magazine’s reporting in the article as "non-objective" and "biased."
In May 2014, VanderSloot filed a defamation lawsuit against former Idaho Falls Post-Register reporter Peter Zuckerman, alleging that he had "knowingly and maliciously publishing false statements depicting VanderSloot in national media as a gay-basher." The case settled in October 2015 after Zuckerman admitted in a sworn affidavit that statements he made about VanderSloot were untrue.
In June 2015, VanderSloot and his wife gave $50,000 to a political action committee (Conservative Solutions PAC) funding Florida senator Marco Rubio’s campaign as the Republican Party nominee for the 2016 presidential election. VanderSloot also contributed $2,700, the maximum allowed by law, to the GOP presidential campaign of former Technology executive Carly Fiorina. In November 2015, VanderSloot announced that he supported Rubio for President and that he planned to host fundraisers and bundle contributions on Rubio's behalf. In June 2016, VanderSloot said that he was ready to support Donald Trump as the "best bet" to defeat Hillary Clinton, and in September of that year Donald Trump Jr. made a private visit to VanderSloot at Melaleuca headquarters. Following the presidential election in November 2016, VanderSloot announced on Twitter that Trump was not his first, second, or third choice as a candidate but that it was "time for all of us to come together and unite behind our new President."
VanderSloot denied that he had outed Zuckerman, saying that he had attempted to defend Zuckerman's motives, and repeating that Zuckerman had previously publicly disclosed his sexual orientation, which was already being discussed in the local community. Post Register Editor Dean Miller stated that Zuckerman's sexual orientation had been known only by Zuckerman's family and a few of his close friends and colleagues, and Zuckerman himself also disputed VanderSloot’s contention that the advertisements did not constitute an outing.