Funeral services were held today for Irving Hershkowitz, the founder of Big Geyser, Inc. and a legend in the New York beverage world. Hershkowitz died Sunday evening at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital.
Hershkowitz, who was 70, started Big Geyser in 1986 after a long career selling wine and spirits. Well-known as a “New York character” Hershkowitz was famous for developing brands like Nantucket Nectars, Honest Tea and Vitaminwater, and eventually the brand of Big Geyser itself — the company is now so highly regarded in New York that beverage giants like Coca-Cola have begun developing products in concert with the distributor.
“H,” as Hershkowitz was known, had gradually stepped away from Big Geyser in recent years, allowing his two sons, Lewis and Steven to develop as leaders. The company had a well-organized succession plan in place, according to a memo from current Big Geyser COO and Sales Director Jerry Reda, who said that despite the founder’s passing, following a recent formal transition of ownership, “while the business will never be exactly as it was without him, we will continue business as usual to our suppliers and customers.”
Veteran beverage distributor and investor Ken Sadowsky, who serves as the executive director of the Northeast Independent Distributors Association, (NIDA) which counts Big Geyser as a key member, called Hershkowitz “A character of monumental proportions.”
In addition to sons Lewis and Steven, Hershkowitz is survived by his wife, Lynn and sister, Adele.