Swimming with The Beverage Sharks
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.