Former Coke/Coors exec to lead growth of niche innovator
BOULDER, CO – June 17, 2014 – Cheribundi, a rising star in the burgeoning tart cherry product category, announced that Steve Pear joined the company as its Chief Executive Officer effective May 5th.
The 22-year corporate beverage industry executive, whose portfolio of expertise and accomplishments includes sales, operations and general management, succeeds Brian Ross, who will leave the company to pursue other interests. Mr. Pear joins Cheribundi from Odwalla, Coca-Cola’s chilled juice business unit, where he was President and General Manager.
“I could not be more excited about the opportunity to lead Cheribundi to the next level of growth,” said Mr. Pear. “More and more people are discovering that we have an incredibly high-quality product that provides a multitude of health benefits to consumers of all ages. That makes the cherry category expandable on many fronts.”
“I am confident that my years of broad-based experience – with two of the industry’s most successful corporations – have prepared me to drive Cheribundi to the top of the national tart cherry category,” he said.
In a June 6th communication to Cheribundi shareholders, Mr. Pear outlined immediate objectives in several business areas. They include:
- Near-term measures to generate and sustain sales lift over the balance of 2014
- Evaluation of company assets and resources to focus investment in areas aligned with future growth objectives
- Marketing strategies to leverage the phenomenal appeal of Cheribundi tart cherry beverages among major sports organizations
- Increased health and wellness messaging, to drive product awareness and growth.
Commenting on what his corporate background brings to a previously entrepreneurial firm, Mr. Pear emphasized the ability to add structure and process to the way the company runs “and to the way we internally drive interactivity and accountability.”
“Brian and his team have done a great job in establishing a product platform, maintaining our key grower relationships in Michigan and upstate New York, and getting to the first plateau of customer and sales development. But at this point, Cheribundi has grown its business to a place where we need to address business structure and sales alignment, in order to drive it upward,” Mr. Pear said.
As for what attracted Mr. Pear to this new opportunity, he said, “One factor was that after 22 years in the corporate world, I wanted to take all the experience and knowledge I had amassed, bring all that to a small company, and make it bigger.”
“Another appeal is being dedicated to a healthier, better-for-you product that provides a wide range of functional benefits to a wide range of people Because it appeals to a wide audience, there’s plenty of upside and runway for the brand,” he said.
A University of Georgia graduate, Mr. Pear began his career in 1992 with Coca Cola Enterprises, and advanced through regional sales management positions of increasing responsibility over the next 15 years. In 2007, he joined Coors Brewing Company as Vice President of National Sales. In 2009, Mr Pear went back to Coca-Cola as SVP
Sales/Operations for Odwalla and then promoted to President/GM in late 2012. In his latest role he was responsible for overseeing 700 employees in 30 distribution facilities, a manufacturing plant and three co-packing operations.
Cheribundi is a manufacturer of tart cherry juice products, with offices in Boulder and processing operations in Geneva, New York.
Known in nutritional clinical circles as the “ultimate antioxidant,” tart cherries are widely believed to promote healthy inflammation response and support restful sleep. Those properties led to the extensive use of tart cherry drinks by over 90 professional and Division 1 college sports teams across the nation.
Cheribundi juices, which are not made from concentrate, were originally formulated by Cornell University food scientists, who identified their health benefits in a presentation called “Tart Cherry – The American Super fruit” and then developed a proprietary process that retains nutrients while yielding a deliciously tart juice.
Well positioned as a category leader and product innovator, Cheribundi’s new leadership is poised to accelerate marketing, sales initiatives and distribution channel expansion, to grow its national presence.