After 17 years, Gerry Martin is leaving Orson behind.
Long an industry heavyweight through his position as V.P. of marketing and immediate consumption sales for the giant independent bottler and distributor, Polar beverages — symbolized by its Polar Bear mascot, Orson — Martin told BevNET he is leaving Polar to help lead Al’s Beverage Co., Inc., one of the country’s largest manufacturers and distributors of fountain soft drink concentrates.
Martin will be president and CEO of the company, which is based in East Windsor, Conn. Al’s, which supplies its own fountain CSDs and slushies to many independent accounts, also distributes concentrates for Canada Dry and 7-Up, among others.
He said that Al’s, which has been in growth mode recently, will likely soon be in expansion mode again. It currently employs 50 people.
“That side of the industry is ripe for consolidation,” Martin said.
Martin added that it was hard to be leaving Polar, a place where he’s been deeply involved in the distribution of the company’s own brands as well as the entrepreneurial beverage companies that have become national players over the years. He also spent 15 years working for Pepsi in the Northeast before joining Polar in 1996.
He said he felt his biggest accomplishments were growing the companies branded products from a grocery-only line to a recognized brand sold in drug, liquor, on-premise and convenience accounts, as well as a division with seven employees who help market its core and seasonal products. Martin also added that he was proud of nurturing the growth of brands like Vitmainwater, Rockstar, Izze, Zico and others.
“It’s been great building relationships and being part of the Polar family for so long,” Martin said. He will be transitioning to the new position over the course of the next few weeks, but said he hopes to be able to continue working with entrepreneurial brands through organizations like BevNET and also through DPSG, where he is on the cold drink steering committee.