Activate Elevates Mirza to President as Holland Departs CEO Role

As Rising Beverage Co. prepares to relocate its headquarters from Newport Beach, to Los Angeles, Dan Holland has stepped down as CEO citing concerns about a long commute. Rising Beverage, the marketer of twist-cap brand Activate, has elevated chief operating officer Reza Mirza to the role of president, effective immediately.

As president, Mirza will be responsible for the development and implementation of financial and marketing strategies and oversee day-to-day operations at the company. He said that the CEO position will remain vacant.

According to Mirza, Rising Beverage chairman Michael Eisner, the former chairman of Disney and the father of Activate co-founder Anders Eisner, will take a more active role in the company as it aims for Activate to be a national brand by next year.

While Mirza cited Los Angeles as a more natural fit for Activate, which promotes itself as young, trendy brand, he noted that the move to L.A. was partly based on being closer to Eisner, who is based out of Beverly Hills.

“[Michael Eisner] has always been very actively involved with the company,” Mirza said. “And now with the expansion plans… he’s going to be a lot more involved spearheading that.”

Mirza said that the company has not finalized a new location in the city for its headquarters. Nevertheless, Holland stated that his commute would dramatically increase (Holland quoted 112 miles round trip from his home to L.A.), and that he felt that remaining as the CEO of the company would no longer be feasible. Eisner’s decision to take a more active role in the Activate “had nothing to do with” his exit, Holland said.

“I am going to do everything I can to help them,” Holland said. “I am still a shareholder and still an investor. So I wish them all the best.”

Holland, who previously held executive positions at Mission Beverage Co. and  Haralambos Beverage Co., stated that he currently has no formal position at Activate, and in his new role as an advisor, he will offer guidance on distribution and route to market strategies. He noted that the advisory position was “in place” for a year, and had the ability to begin working for another company at any time.

“If I was to venture out and work on another functional beverage, then the advisor role would just go away,” Holland said. “I will definitely stay in the beverage business.”

Holland’s expertise in distribution may be critical to the national aspirations of Activate.  In the immediate future, however, Mirza said that Rising Beverage is close to signing a new distribution agreement for New York City and expects to make an announcement about the deal within 1-2 weeks. He said that the company will aim for new distribution in Boston and Washington D.C. markets in early 2013.