Break The Rules
Break The Rules
My beverage career began at Pepsi (it was my only job offer) starting on a soda merchandising crew in Queens, NY, later becoming a marketing manager for the NY area bottling group then a brand manager on Pepsi Light. After 6 years, I jumped to the advertising side, spending 3 years as an account guy at Kenyon & Eckhardt Advertising in NYC where I worked with Coca-Cola’s new soft drinks products (anybody remember Ramblin' Root Beer?) as well as their wine division (yes, Coke actually used to own some wineries including Taylor, Sterling, and Monterey Vineyards).
Next stop was A&W Brands which I joined as VP Marketing, eventually rising to President/COO. Shortly after a leveraged buy-out by management and Hicks & Haas, A&W went public in 1987 and for 6 consecutive years was ranked as the #1 OTC stock (alphabetically!). In 1993, Cadbury Schweppes bought A&W Brands, returning original equity holders in excess of a 200x return and giving me free time to write the ultimate beverage manual - "The Complete Insider's Guide to the U.S. Soft Drink Industry" (and watch the OJ trial).
In 1995 I returned to the beverage world when Triarc Companies bought a small beverage company, Mistic Brands, and appointed me CEO. Triarc already owned Royal Crown Cola and after several months, they decided to fold RC into Mistic. In 1997, we purchased Snapple from Quaker Oats for $300 million (2 years after they had acquired it for $1.7 Billion, but that’s a whole other story) and I was named CEO of the combined beverage operations. After a dramatic Snapple turnaround in just 3 years, Cadbury Schweppes (yes, those guys again) purchased the Snapple Beverage Group for $1.5 Billion and I became the President of Global Innovation and Business Development (the coolest job title ever) for Cadbury Schweppes...for a little while, anyway.
Not being much of a corporate guy, in 2005 I co-founded the INOV8 Beverage Company and launched HYDRIVE, a unique, healthy energy water which gained distribution in 30,000 accounts and was sold to Big Red Beverages in 2012. Since that time INOV8 has been providing consulting services to the beverage industry because being an entrepreneur is best left to the young guys.
I was named Beverage Industry Executive of the Year in 1999 and elected to the Beverage World Hall of Fame in 2000.
When I get a calls from entrepreneurs to discuss their new beverage ideas my first response is always “don’t do it”. Now that usually catches them by surprise because they haven’t yet told me anything about their product. The point I try to make is that it’s really hard to successfully launch a brand and virtually impossible to make money in the first 5 years. Frankly the easiest part is coming up with the idea. The most challenging part is commercialization. Sure, you can get someone to come up with a formula, slap a goofy name on it, design a slick looking package, and find a co-packer who will produce some finished product. OK, now you got a garage filled with a thousand cases. How are you going to get a store to agree to sell it, how are you going to deliver it to the store, and most importantly, how are you going to get a consumer to decide to pay real money for your product instead of one of the other hundred brands sitting on the shelf?
I can help guide you through the process of brand commercialization or portfolio optimization whether you are brand new beverage entrepreneur or a large company looking to enhance growth and profitability. Always happy to chat so drop me a line at email@example.com and let’s schedule a time to talk.
I grew up and attended public schools in Eastchester, NY, then attended Lafayette College as an economics major where I was captain of the varsity swim (D-1) and water polo (club) teams. My greatest accomplishment in college was beating Olympian Mark Spitz in the 100m freestyle in 1969 at the Hall of Fame Poll in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. (actually, he was warming up at the time, but a victory is a victory). Post Lafayette, I went directly to Harvard Business School and in 1972 received my MBA with a concentration in marketing. In the late '70’s I became an avid distance runner (and triathlete) with a personal best of 2:43 in the NYC Marathon. The price of that obsession was two knee and two hip replacements.
I served on the Boards of H.J. Heinz (2006-2013), Dr Pepper Snapple (2009-2012), Tampico Beverages (2004-2009), A&W Brands (1987-1993) and Bob Evans Farms (2014-2018). Currently I sit on the board of 2 private beverage companies - Eska Water and Calypso (fruit drinks). I also volunteer for NFTE (Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship), teaching weekly high school marketing classes in low income schools in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. I now call Larchmont, NY, my home where I reside with my wife and just 1 mile from my daughter, son-in-law and two awesome grandkids. For fun I am into kayaking, paddle boarding, golf, swimming, cycling, scuba diving and photography. And I work a bit too.
The first business case taught to first year marketing students at the Harvard Business School and numerous other MBA programs is the story of Snapple, one of the most celebrated brands in the beverage industry. Snapple's 30+ year journey contains numerous learnings about success and failure in the world of marketing. Snap Judgments is a fast-paced, 45 minute multi-media presentation about the rise, fall and rescue of one of America’s most iconic brands. It provides many important lessons about innovation, perseverance, culture change, and what it takes to turn around a declining business. I have been a keynote speaker at over 50 conferences, conventions and business meetings (but I won't release the transcripts unless all the speakers do). If you’re interested in learning more about the Snap Judgments presentation, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.