BevNET Live: Learn Costco from the Inside Out with John Eagan and Danny Stepper
November 20, 2013 by Jeffrey Klineman
It’s with great excitement that we announce that BevNET Live will feature a discussion with two executives who are highly skilled at building beverage brands in Costco, one of the world’s largest and most creative retailers.
In a joint interview, John Eagan, the VP and Senior General Merchandiser for Costco Wholesale, and Danny Stepper, the CEO & Co-Founder of L.A. Libations, will participate in a discussion matching one of the company’s most important gatekeepers with an entrepreneur who has a strong background in introducing and supporting products in the chain.
Eagan and Stepper will talk about how beverage companies can figure out if they’re ready to try to pitch the retailer, the keys to getting in and staying in, as well as strategies for developing within the company from a small footprint to a bigger presence. Much attention will be paid to ways companies can prepare for a Costco push by aligning their capabilities with Costco’s strengths, as well as a discussion of programs in product development and partnership that have helped brands succeed.
For entrepreneurs, success in Costco can lead to scale and greater affordability of supply, can create important points of contact with consumers who are willing to commit to a brand, and a chance to win hearts and minds by aligning with a retailer with a stellar reputation. But winning in Costco requires synchronization the retailer’s commercial style; an understanding of the company’s demanding requirements for staying in stores, and a company that has the flexibility to create new SKUs and packages in order to fully exploit the channel. For BevNET Live attendees, this is an unprecedented opportunity to understand the dynamics of one of the world’s largest and most creative retailers.
BevNET Live Winter 2013 is selling at a record pace, and space is filling up faster than ever. At this pace, the conference, which will be held on Dec. 9 & 10 at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica, is expected to sell out well before the event date.
About John Eagan
In 1985, John Eagan joined Costco Wholesale as a General Merchandise Manager after working at the Price Club. He moved to British Columbia to help establish Costco in Canada. He worked there for two years before returning to Southern California to set up a regional office.
Eagan established the Los Angeles regional office in 1987. Starting with two warehouses, Bakersfield and Las Vegas, he opened 18 additional warehouses over the next five years. In 1993, when Costco and Price Club merged, Eagan relocated to Washington to help facilitate the integration of the various food buying groups of the merged company.
In 1996, Eagan returned to the L.A. Region, where he continues to lead the food buying as Vice President and Senior General Merchandise Manager. The region has grown to 59 warehouses with annual sales over $12 billion.
Eagan has served on the Board of the California Grocers Association as a Board member and as Chairman. He is currently serving as President of the Western Association of Food Chains.
He has been married to Chryl for 49 years. They have four grown children and many grandchildren. They both enjoy family and traveling.
About Danny Stepper
Danny Stepper is an entrepreneur and film producer with 18 years of creating value with blue-chip organizations including the Coca-Cola Co., Adidas, Disney and Anheuser-Busch.
Stepper is the Co-Founder & CEO of L.A. Libations, an emerging beverage incubator specializing in brand creation, retail management, route to market and distribution. L.A. Libations is the Emerging Brand Category Captain at many of the top retailers in North America, who look to Stepper and his team to bring them the new emerging consumer brands. L.A. Libations works strategically with Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands unit in identifying and building the next billion dollar beverage brands. Complementary to VEB brands, Stepper and his partners have created, commercialized and incubated their own brands, which can be found at Kroger, Safeway, Walgreens, 7-11, Costco, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target and beyond.
Stepper started his career as a merchandiser for Coca-Cola Enterprises in Pacoima, Calif. and spent nine years in the Coca-Cola System where he played various roles in sales, marketing and brand management.
He departed Coke in 2003 and partnered with Academy Award-winning Film Producer Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, Inconvenient Truth), to produce the $70 MM Disney Film Trilogy Goal! Stepper and team fully financed and produced the projects through CPG companies, a Hollywood first. These landmark deals were with global powerhouses Adidas, the Coca-Cola Co., and FIFA. To date Goal! Is the largest brand/entertainment integration deal in the history of Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
Stepper holds an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University, a B.A. from Westmont College in Santa Barbara as well as international degrees from Collegio Magisterio (Spain) and Instituto De Lingua Espanol (Costa Rica). Bi-lingual in English and Spanish, Stepper currently serves on the Board of Advisors at Westmont College.