People Moves: Chris Hall Named CEO of Talking Rain

Chris Hall Named CEO of Talking Rain

Just over a year after the sudden departure of Kevin Klock, COO Chris Hall has been named the permanent CEO of Talking Rain Beverage Company as of April 2.

Hall, a 10 year veteran of the company, succeeds interim CEO Marcus Smith, who will remain with the company as President. Prior to serving as COO, Hall was previously Vice President of Sales.

Reached for comment by BevNET on Tuesday, the company sent the following statement:

“We’re all very excited at Talking Rain right now, and energized to remain focused on the needs of our team, the customer, and our partners in order to drive the business forward. Talking Rain Beverage Co. has always been and will continue to be a company focused on innovation, both within our product offerings and within our workplace, making it one that values its personnel and upholds the highest commitment to giving all employees a successful working environment. We believe our employees are our greatest asset and we will continue to cultivate a workplace that reflects this as the core of our culture.”

Former CEO Klock resigned in March 2017, a week after former employee Alisha Copeland reported him to Hall, her supervisor at the time, for alleged sexual assault during a work trip in Las Vegas.

Copeland claims Talking Rain then retaliated against her and in October it was reported she filed a lawsuit against Klock and the company with a trial date set for October 8, 2018. The law firm representing Copeland did not return a call from BevNET requesting an update on the proceedings earlier today.

Speaking with BevNET at the 2017 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show in October, Hall said the company did not have an issue with its corporate culture. At the time he declined to comment on his role in Klock’s departure.

During that interview, Hall also spoke to Talking Rain’s shifting strategy in the convenience channel, stating that c-stores were vital to the growth of the company’s standout Sparkling Ice brand. To facilitate that growth, the company released four Sparkling Ice SKUs in 16 oz. cans.

In August, the company partnered with India-based Tata Global Beverages to distribute premium water brand Himalayan in the U.S. Rollout of the brand began in January.

In addition to Hall’s appointment, Talking Rain also announced several other personnel changes. Ken Sylvia, former VP of Distribution has been named VP of Sales. Former Midwest Senior Director of Sales Ryan Quinlan now moves into the VP of Distribution role. Oscar Mayorquin has been promoted from his former role of Supply Chain Manager to Director of Supply Chain.

Essentia Names Abrahamson as CMO

Essentia has promoted Karyn Abrahamson to the role of CMO, the company announced Tuesday. Abrahamson joined the brand in 2015 as Vice President of Marketing and Brand Innovation, coming to Essentia from her position as Director of Global Retail Marketing and Innovation at Microsoft.

Responding to questions sent by BevNET via email Tuesday, Abrahamson said the new position allows her to spend more time focused on driving innovation and developing a long term strategy as Essentia works to become a lifestyle brand.

“Establishing our brand strategy started with identifying our core consumers (millennials 18-34), understanding who they are and what’s important to them related to brands that they care about and want to support,” she said. “In developing Essentia into a lifestyle brand, I will be evolving this strategy to engage millennials in a way that inspires them to become part of the Essentia Nation where their passions and overachieving nature are recognized and celebrated.”

Her appointment comes at a time of high growth for the alkaline water maker. Essentia announced earlier this year that it had doubled its revenue in 2017 to $124 Million in retail sales. The company said it has surpassed sales goals for the first two months of 2018 and foresees continued momentum.

Bulletproof Adds Shazi Visram to Board of Directors

Shazi Visram, founder and “ChairMom” of organic baby food maker Happy Family, has joined the board at Bulletproof 360, Inc., the company announced Tuesday.

“I am happy and honored to have Shazi lend her expertise and background to help Bulletproof grow rapidly and reach more people,” said Dave Asprey, founder and CEO of Bulletproof, in a press release. “Bringing on Shazi as the first independent board director will help Bulletproof lead the disruption of industrial big food.”

Bulletproof markets a pair of MCT oil-infused ready-to-drink products — Bulletproof Coffee and FAT Water — as well as packaged coffee, tea and dietary supplements

Visram joins the board as Bulletproof expands it CPG retail efforts with new distribution in Whole Foods and Sprouts retail locations for its line of ready-to-drink butter coffee. The company has also expanded its cafe chain with new locations in Seattle and Santa Monica, Calif.

“First and foremost, I believe in the Bulletproof vision and products,” Visram said in the release. “I’m drawn to the cutting-edge nature of the nutrition-forward company and its immense potential to help others. Bulletproof sees wellness and performance through a very different lens than its competitors, which is unique for a CPG brand. Bulletproof is big, disruptive, and exciting – exactly the type of brand to which I want to lend my expertise.”

BevNET was unable to reach Visram for additional comment.