Vibranz Shakes Loose CEO Cordtz

Vibranz CEO David Cordtz has resigned from the fast-growing kombucha maker, BevNET has learned.

Cordtz, a veteran winemaker and former owner of the Sonoma Sparkler brand of sparkling juice, left at the request of the Vibranz board after a tumultuous year in the kombucha category.

Cordtz was instrumental in launching the brand along with co-founder Kathy Taylor, who will remain with the company. The five-sku line was the first unpasteurized kombucha brand to return to the shelves of natural foods giant Whole Foods following a late-summer fermentation crisis that resulted in all kombucha companies pulling products from retail shelves.

Like the first car out after a caution flag — and with category pioneer GTs still on the sidelines — Vibranz quickly found itself in demand. According to Cordtz, the brand went from 140 stores to 1400 in the space of a few months, as retailers called on Vibranz to fill white space in their coolers that had previously been occupied by larger brands like GTs and High Country.

But as other brands came back online and Vibranz and its distributors struggled to fill orders, satisfying those new accounts became an issue, Cordtz said.

“It grew so quickly that the distributors didn’t know what the sales patterns were,” he said. “There were stocking issues, (order) filling issues, although we were able to ramp up production pretty quickly.”

“It was like a land grab,” he added. “In 30 years in the beverage business, I’ve never seen an opportunity to grab as much space as you can this quickly. I don’t see how you could not try it, honestly.”

Cordtz remains a shareholder in Vibranz; his son is also still employed by the company.