LOS ANGELES — Gizmo Beverages announces the addition of beverage industry maverick, Mark Weslar, to its dynamic leadership team. Weslar, who will act as Chief Marketing Officer, joins recently appointed SVP of Sales,Brad Foster, and company co-founders Walter Apodaca and Don Park as the company continues its rapid expansion. Gizmo Beverages holds the patent on “the Gizmo Closure and Delivery System,” an innovative, pressurized bottle cap design that infuses and instantly mixes a drink with fresh, preservative-free liquid ingredients upon opening. The first application of this technology, Tea of a Kind, has already proven itself a high performer in the category, winning the Best Ready-to-Drink Tea Beverage at the 2012 Interbev Awards; Best Iced Tea at the 2013 North American Tea Championships, and most recently received a SELF Magazine Healthy Food Award for Best Iced Tea.
Weslar is a seasoned CPG marketer having held brand leadership roles at major companies including MillerCoors, Coors Brewing Company, Kraft Foods and Nabisco. He comes to Gizmo from MillerCoors, where he restored the Coors Light brand to industry leading growth, helping it become the #2 beer brand in the U.S. and #1 across many U.S. markets. As Brand Director, he defined the brand’s distinct positioning of Rocky Mountain Cold Refreshment and successfully launched many package innovations, including Cold Activated Bottles and Cans. During his tenure on Coors Light, Weslar generated 13% growth and $470mm in incremental revenue.
Weslar joins Gizmo Beverages as they continue to demonstrate strong growth in the rapidly expanding categories of “functional” and “all-natural” beverage. Partnering with Southern Wines & Spirits (the largest privately held beverage wholesaler in the country), Gizmo has experienced early success in Tea of a Kind’s first four markets – California, Arizona, New Mexico, andNevada. Weslar will develop campaigns to increase consumer awareness of Tea of a Kind’s unique proposition and the “powered by Gizmo” experience it delivers. Beyond Tea of a Kind, Weslar will champion Gizmo’s next two projects utilizing their patented closure on a functional water brand and a RTD cocktail brand, both launching in 2014. Additionally, Weslar will lead efforts to secure future licensing agreements for the Gizmo closure and enhance equity in the “powered by Gizmo” brand as it extends into new food and beverage applications.
“I am very excited to build upon the impressive growth of our Tea of a Kind and “powered by Gizmo” brands. These are unique, “on trend” propositions that fulfill consumer demands for health, wellness, natural ingredients and personal expression,” Weslar explains. “We will build these brands in breakthrough ways that engage consumers, sharing Tea of a Kind’s story of all-natural ingredients and great taste in a preservative-free beverage. The “powered by Gizmo” brand will be built within and beyond Tea of a Kind as we show consumers the closure’s ability to deliver meaningful benefits and create “wow” impact every time you open it.”
Weslar joins an experienced beverage team. In 2012, SVP of Sales, Brad Foster, joined the company with over 20 years of experience, having held senior level positions at Silver Eagle Distributors, MillerCoors, and Miller Brewing Company. With his sales leadership, Tea of a Kind has secured distribution in dozens of retail chain accounts, including BevMo, Vons, Kroger (Ralph’s, Fry’s, Smith’s), Bristol Farms, Albertsons, Sprouts, AJ’s Fine Foods, and Andronico’s. The brand has also secured distribution in thousands of on-premise accounts, including W Hotels in Southern CA and Scottsdale Arizona; Las Vegasresorts, including The Bellagio, The Riviera, Four Seasons, and MGM Grand; Luxury resorts including the St. Regis Hotel inDana Point, CA, La Costa Resort Carlsbad, CA, Talking Stick Golf Course in Scottsdale, AZ, Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, CA and select Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and Westin Hotels across all markets.
“I have been a part of some very successful brand launches in my career, including Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, Bud Light Platinum,Corona Light, and MGD 64, but I had yet to experience excitement from retailers like I have from Tea of a Kind,” Foster says. “Retailers love that this is true innovation and not simply another line extension. They really appreciate our potential and how we bring incremental sales to their category.”
Company president and Co-founder, Walter Apodaca, leads the team, directing and executing all activities of the business. As a former executive with Coca-Cola, Coors Brewing Company and MillerCoors, Walter has been involved in hundreds of practical innovations in the beverage sector. Apodaca co-founded Gizmo Beverages with Don Park in 2011 after seeing the Gizmo function in its early incarnation and immediately realizing its revolutionary value. Walter compares the launch of this cap technology to the game-changing impact the aluminum can had on the beverage industry or that k-cups had in hot coffee and tea.
Says Apodaca: “Having a great solution, product or technology is not enough. We need great leaders to help tell the story and get the brand in the hands of thousands of consumers every day. I couldn’t think of two better partners to help lead this effort and deliver our unique message than Brad Foster and Mark Weslar. Together they will drive unparalleled growth for Gizmo Beverages. They both bring proven track records of building brands through highly effective consumer marketing and retail solutions.”
Apodaca and Park challenged their leadership team to inform consumers that every time they open a “powered by Gizmo” beverage, they are getting an all-natural, preservative free, healthy drink that tastes great. Weslar says, “This is reinforced by the exciting experience of opening and instantly mixing the contents. You can immediately see, hear, feel and taste the difference – creating an incomparable brand interaction.” To mark this difference, Gizmo Beverages will cobrand all beverages utilizing the Gizmo Closure and Delivery device with the ‘Powered by Gizmo’ trademark, whether they are company owned brands like Tea of a Kind, or brands like Move water, to whom they have licensed the technology. Apodaca adds, “This is our ‘Intel Inside’ and it reminds consumers that although they can’t see the technology, the benefits are there, and it clearly differentiates our innovation from others in the category.”