Having updated its leadership ranks via internal promotion and external hires, Purity Organic is now aiming to round out its executive team with a proven manager to head up its sales department.
The organic juice company, which also markets tea and coconut water products, recently elevated Andrew Guard to vice president of operations, and hired former New York City tourism executive Bernadette Aguirre as director of marketing. Purity has also brought on a number of regional sales managers in recent months, but has been without a formal sales chief since the departure of Larry Belka, who left the company in September.
Guard joined Purity in September, 2012 as an operations manager and arrived with extensive experience in logistics and planning, with prior operational roles at BevNET and owater, the electrolyte-infused water brand.
His ascension at Purity follows the successful launch of the company’s “Superjuice” line, a brand extension in which premium and on-trend ingredients, such as kale and turmeric, are blended into shelf-stable juices. Guard was deeply involved in the formulation of the products, something that Purity Organic president Dave Minnick described as a daunting task, particularly because some of the vegetables and roots in the juices were ones that the company had never used before. In the end, however, Superjuice was well-received in its debut, and Minnick pointed to Guard’s involvement as critical to the early success.
“Andrew has proven that he can take on more responsibility and perform at a high level in a very complicated position,” Minnick said. “The products that we make aren’t the easiest. It’s not sugar and water and flavor packets. These are purees, juices; timing [requires them] to be ordered in a certain way. It’s a challenging process to make it all come together, and he makes it look easy.”
In an e-mail to BevNET, Guard stated that “it has been a privilege to witness the growth Purity has seen over the past two years. I look forward to contributing in an even greater capacity moving forward.”
With solid footing in its operations department, Purity is looking to Aguirre for continued development of its marketing initiatives. Wielding an international MBA from Spain’s Instituto de Empresa, Aguirre cut her teeth in marketing with NYC & Co., the official tourism and partnership organization of the city, and held various roles within the organization from 2007 to 2011. Her work included developing strategic alliances between corporate brands, including Dr Pepper Snapple and Red Bull, and New York City organizations.
Aguirre takes the reins from former director of marketing Selena Hoover and will be based in the Bay Area, an important factor for Purity, whose primary offices are located in San Francisco. Residence in Northern California will also be critical for Purity’s next vice president of sales, Minnick said, noting that the departure of Belka, who lives in Nantucket, Mass., was largely due to his discontent in having to constantly travel.
Belka’s exit prompted Minnick’s return to Purity’s head of sales, a role he’d held from 2008 to 2014. Minnick praised Purity’s sales team as a “fantastic” group and would look to find a head of division who would be the right cultural fit to lead its approximately 18 sales managers. Though Purity is early in its search, Minnick pointed to significant contributions from Kayte Mooney, Purity’s regional manager for New York City, and Eric Fling, the company’s national accounts manager. Both joined the company last summer, and Minnick noted each person’s veteran experience in beverage sales as reflective regarding a number of distribution wins in recent months, with the company landing new placements at Duane Reade, 7-Eleven and Safeway.