People Moves: Hal Kravitz Joins Brand Management Firm; Voss CEO Belsito Confirms Exit

Hal Kravitz Named Board Chairman at Sales and Marketing Agency CMG

Just over a week after departing as CEO of premium alkaline water brand AQUAhydrate, Hal Kravitz has been named the chairman of the board of directors of Glendale, Calif.-based Certified Management Group (CMG).

Founded in 2004, CMG is a national outsourced sales and marketing agency and brand management firm for wholesalers who supply food-away-from-home businesses, such as food trucks, independent convenience stores and restaurants.

“Hal is a respected leader with a wealth of expertise in marketing and brand management, finance and revenue management, sales and operations. His leadership background, network and business operations acumen will be invaluable to our clients and our company,” said CMG Founder Nick Karapetian in a press release.

Speaking with BevNET on the phone from Southern California, Kravitz said the new role at CMG had been in the works before he leaving AQUAhydrate, and that he had been informally assisting CMG founder Nick Karapetian with contacts and advisory support since he arrived in Los Angeles over three years ago. He said a formal agreement to join the company board was being finalized at the time of his exit from AQUAhydrate.

“Beverages today are a big part of CMG’s business, but it’s expanding rapidly,” he said, naming Coca-Cola and Nestle as two existing clients.

Citing ongoing discussions with the AQUAhydrate, Kravitz, who spent over 30 years at The Coca-Cola Company prior to joining the company, declined to comment on the circumstances of his exit, other than noting it “was not my decision.”

“I wish them well and hope for the best for them,” he said. “There are good people there who I care about and I want them to be successful.”

He continued: “In my opinion, with the great brand and product that we had with AQUAhydrate the “push” side of the equation was there. We made significant progress on gaining availability, but we didn’t invest sufficient resources to effectively “pull” the product through and get it to turn to the degree it needed to turn to keep pace with category growth, like other leading brands in the space were turning,” he said.

Kravitz has also been a board member at fitness drink brand Celsius Holdings, Inc. since 2016. On Monday, the company reported record quarterly revenues of $12.1 million, a 101 percent increase from the same period last year.

“I like my involvement with Celsius because it’s global,” Kravitz said, citing expansion in Asia and Europe. “That is really appealing to me, to go outside the borders of the U.S. I like board roles, I like taking all of my experience and my network and being able to put it to good use to help companies grow. “

Old News Department: Jack Belsito Leaves Voss

Though previously unreported, former Voss of Norway CEO Jack Belsito confirmed with BevNET in a call today that he left the premium water company at the end of last summer.

Voss COO Joseph Bayern, who worked as a chief strategy officer and chief operations officer at Snapple during Belsito’s time as president of that company in the early 2000s, has taken over the CEO position. Belsito said he remains a shareholder in Voss.

Belsito declined to elaborate upon his next business venture, aside from confirming it was in beverage.

Bill Meissner Named CEO At Dunn’s River Brands

Former Talking Rain Beverage Co. president and PepsiCo director Bill Meissner has been appointed CEO of Dallas-based beverage group Dunn’s River Brands.

Meissner has over 20 years of experience in the beverage industry, beginning as a category manager at TetraPak in 1995. He joined PepsiCo in 1999 as a brand director for beverage and energy drink marketing before joining The Coca-Cola Company in 2004 as chief marketing officer for Fuze Beverage. Meissner was named president of Talking Rain in 2008; he left the company less than two years later to join Jones Soda Co. as president in 2010.

Following its December 2017 acquisition of the Sweet Leaf Tea and Tradewinds brands from Nestlé Waters North America, Dunn’s River Brands acquired a majority interest in Temple Turmeric last month for an undisclosed sum.

KonaRed Expands Executive Team

Hawaiian coffee brand KonaRed has recruited Ken Ramirez and Wendi Marsicola as the company’s new vice president of sales and vice president of operations, respectively.

Ramirez brings a variety of beverage experience to the role; he was a national retail sales director and vice president at Bacardi USA, preceded by over 15 years in various sales roles at The Coca-Cola Company.

He is also the co-founder of Bali Juice, a 100 percent mangosteen juice drink that launched in Southern California in April.

“We’re excited to have two such talented and experienced executives join our team. I know they will immediately contribute and help lead us as we continue our growth in the budding cold brew sector,” said KonaRed CEO Kyle Redfield in a press release.

Kor Shots Lands New Head of Sales

Rachel Forillere has joined organic cold-press juice shot maker Kor Shots as Chief Sales Officer.

Foriellere, an MBA graduate of the University of West London, has worked in sales roles at several beverage brands, including at Harmless Harvest as national senior director of sales and business development and at Temple Turmeric as VP of sales and business development. From 2005 to 2014, she was the regional category buyer for London, Boston and New York at Whole Foods Market.