But I didn't want a me-too item like diet products, soaps, or vitamins." Maughan found what he thought was an ideal candidate--aloe vera.
Commonly known as the "first aid plant" or the "burn plant," aloe vera is a succulent whose juicy middle has been used cosmetically and medically for centuries.
The nearly 20-year-old firm has millions of representatives in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Forever Living's product line includes aloe vera-based drinks, lotions, supplements, cosmetics, and detergents.
The Bible notes that aloe was used to anoint Jesus' body before it was entombed, and other sources claim that the substance was used by Cleopatra and Alexander the Great.
Maughan stumbled upon a group of doctors in Dallas who had developed a method of stabilizing and storing the highly perishable aloe gel, which they used in a sunburn lotion.
In a 1995 interview with Success magazine's Duncan Maxwell Anderson, the Forever Living founder reflected, "Water purifiers and burglar alarms were very popular, then, but I didn't want anything that wasn't consumable.
I was interested in health products and thought other people might be, too.
As Forbes's Christopher Palmeri noted in his August 1995 article on Forever Living Products and its founder, "More money works its way to the top than stays at the bottom.
The big money is not in selling the stuff, but in recruiting people to sell the stuff." In 1983, Maughan solidified his position at the top by buying out his partner's half interest.