Vitamix would say yes, and so would their new general counsel, Leah McLaughlin Fazio ’11. Fazio noted that the company’s “raving fans” love their conventional blenders and other blending equipment such as stick blenders, food processors and even food recyclers, referring them on average to 13.4 other people. In 1950, the company’s president, Bill Barnard, began demonstrating his products live on television, launching what might be called the world’s first infomercial. Now fourth-generation, family-owned and based in Ohio, Vitamix assembles all its products in the United States and sells them for home and commercial use.
“We’re really passionate about helping people to eat whole foods in a healthy way,” Fazio said. “In just a few minutes, you can make a smoothie that’s completely smooth and fits in so many good ingredients. All these things you know you should be eating.”
On a typical morning, Fazio herself will whip up a smoothie with fruit, kale, flax and chia seeds, and a carrot or two—whatever she has handy. That way, she said, “if I have a pizza for lunch, I know I have some good stuff in my body.”
Vitamix has also introduced stainless steel mixers, perfect for making baby food, which Fazio said she does regularly for her infant son, born last year.
Like many of her classmates, Fazio thought she would want to work in-house eventually, but she left after only three years as a mergers and acquisitions associate at Pittsburgh-based Dentons Cohen & Grigsby to join FedEx. “Three years is at the early end of the spectrum for going in-house,” Fazio reflected, “but it worked out really well for me.”
When her husband took an opportunity in Cleveland in 2016, Fazio joined Vitamix, first as a senior attorney and then as corporate and compliance counsel. She was named general counsel in September 2020, shortly after returning from maternity leave. She supervises a tight team of two lawyers, two compliance professionals and a paralegal, and on any given day could be supervising outside counsel on current litigation, reviewing internal corporate policies or negotiating a large contract with a supplier.
“I put the ‘general’ in ‘general counsel,’” Fazio joked.
One of her enduring memories of law school—besides Feb Club, she said—is a criminal law class she took with Professor Anne Coughlin, who often warned her students not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
“Now, I’ve never practiced criminal law,” Fazio said, “but as a new mother, struggling with child care during a pandemic, and getting my promotion, I think of that quote all the time.”