I’m from the old school. I’ve written, many a time, my aversion for much of modern technology, although often it’s not in longhand anymore. Friends, both personal and professional, are aghast that I still haven’t embraced a smart phone and the world that it opens up. My colleagues kid me about it, although they seem to accept that they’ll never see me log into our Sales Force system anytime soon. I just turned 64, and, somehow, I’ve been able to get by and stay connected to the industry just fine.
The key to my connection is a five inch by eight inch index card system shown to me when I first started in publishing 30-plus years ago. When visitors see my famous “desk stacks,” they are provided a fascinating look into my system for having a strong understanding of every beverage company I’ve ever dealt with. Sometimes they like to go through the cards like a stack of old 45 RPM singles for a trip down the Memory Lane of beverages, past and present.
So, one late Friday afternoon, I decided to shuffle my cards and visit 20 years of the industry. Similar to rings on a tree, you can tell the age of brands by the yellowing of the cards and their poor condition. I saw West End Soda Brew, probably my favorite brand, long dead, but never forgotten. Clearly Canadian jumped out at me, as did another favorite, RC Premium Draft Cola. I also found an original Mistic card, with Joe Umbach as my main contact. While not on the scale of a Honus Wagner card, my Don Vultaggio, from AriZona, is still special to me. My Snapple card also conjured up memories, as did the cards from Clearly Canadian and Seagram’s. These are all from my early, pre-information society days. There are literally thousands of beverages I have seen and tasted, most now relegated to the graveyard of good intentions, but still conjuring up great memories.
I could go on and on, but that’s not my message for today. It’s how hard it is to emerge form that pile, tattered, perhaps, but still in business. So, I’d like to give a shout out to some of the companies I’ve worked with for most of my twenty years that are still vibrant and thriving. The aforementioned AriZona card is in that group of companies, as is Snapple. National Beverages, Talking Rain, Sam Adams, Jones Soda, Hansen’s (now Monster), Perrier Group (Now Nestle Waters), Apple & Eve. I could go on and on. These are all examples of excellent companies, with vision, staying power, and a determination to continue to survive and thrive. They stayed within their means, and are still relevant today.
If you ever want to trip the light fantastic and talk about some of your favorite brands, give me a call. I can tell you the history and the people that made it happen. There’s nothing I’d rather talk about.