Activate Dramatically Reduces East Coast Head Count, Focuses Efforts on SoCal Market

With the company now firmly in control of co-founder Anders Eisner, Activate is in the midst of a refocused sales and marketing strategy that will place greater attention and emphasis on the Southern California market. As a result, Activate recently reduced its East Coast staff to a single employee, but stressed that it will continue to support distribution and retail commitments in region.

“We have reduced headcount in the East, but definitely have no plans on pulling out,” Eisner said in an e-mail to BevNET. “We still have a key manager in place overseeing the market to support our customers and distributors. We currently have great growth in the East and have every intention to keep that momentum alive.”

Eisner took the reins from former company president Reza Mirza in December, and last month stated that he had acquired all financial interest in Activate from its primary investors, global conglomerate The Tata Group and Tornante Co., the investment bank owned by his father, Michael Eisner.

While Eisner has said that expanded distribution in up-and-down-the-street retailers in New York City would be a key objective in 2014, Activate is now leaning on Rich Cunningham, the company’s East Division Manager, to oversee all sales and distribution of the brand on the East Coast. The cap-activated beverage has gained some traction in the New York City and Boston markets, and last November, Activate announced new placement in two of the largest supermarket chains in the Northeast, landing its products in 400 Stop & Shop locations and 148 Shaw’s stores.

Lou Ferraro, the owner of Preferred Beverages, which distributes Activate in the New York metro area, said that while the brand has yet to achieve major sales volume in the region, he’s been getting reorders for Activate “on a consistent basis” and that the brand is doing “better than expected in Stop & Shop.”

Ferraro said that while Cunningham is the sole representative for Activate in the East, he’s been assured that the company has no plans of withdrawing from the region and that it will continue to deploy the resources needed to support the brand. Ferraro noted that Cunningham has been an “exceptional” resource for Preferred, which distributes several other entrepreneurial beverage brands including Purity Organic coconut water, Real Beanz Iced Coffee and Maine Root products

“Anything I need, I get [from Cunningham],” Ferraro said.

As for Activate’s primary market, Southern California, Eisner said that the company recognizes “that is where our biggest fans and supporters are” and has focused its attention on the continued development of that region.

“That is now what our strategy is,” he said. “We want to continue to build the West Coast, especially leveraging our great success in Southern California.  Of course, we continue to respect our obligations around the rest of the country.”