People Moves: Adam Louras Steps Down as Iris Nova COO

Adam Louras Steps Down as Iris Nova COO

Adam Louras has left his role as chief operating officer at beverage company Iris Nova, he confirmed in a phone call with BevNET earlier this week.

Louras is set to launch a new career as a consultant at his own Los Angeles-based agency, Mercenary. He remains a shareholder in Iris Nova.

Speaking to BevNET on Monday, Louras said he is accustomed to changing jobs, noting that his nearly three-year tenure at Iris Nova — first as COO of functional drink brand Dirty Lemon before moving to the same role at its newly created parent company in December 2018 — was the “longest job I’ve ever had in my life.”

During his time at the company, Louras helped construct the company’s Los Angeles-based team, as well as drive Dirty Lemon’s push to launch a new product each month in 2019.

Prior to joining Dirty Lemon, Louras was the founder and president of beverage startup Koa, which ceased operations in January 2017.

After receiving a $15 million investment from The Coca-Cola Company in December 2018, Iris Nova was formed to serve as the parent company and distribution platform for Dirty Lemon and other brands to be added later.

Louras said he recognizes that Iris Nova’s “biggest value is in the infrastructure,” rather than a steady stream of new Dirty Lemon flavors. The brand is “still moving trucks that aren’t full” and receiving demand for more volume, he said; beyond that, it’s expensive and was “never meant as a mass product.”

Rather, Louras said, Dirty Lemon’s value is enhanced when used within a broad portfolio of beverage brands integrated into Iris Nova’s text-to-order delivery system. In September, the company announced sparkling tea Minna, sparkling flavored water Sanzo, electrolyte drink Halo Sport and Vina, a sparkling apple cider drink set to launch this fall, as the first third-party beverage brands to join the network, which promises next day delivery to all major U.S. markets.

“When you are facing the proposition of how long it will take to launch two or three more (brands like) Dirty Lemon, it’s a lot riskier of an endeavor than picking up 10 to 15 new brands, putting them on the platform and growing them,” he said. “It’s a more logical choice, but it’s not as exciting for me.”

At Mercenary, Louras is relishing the opportunity to continue chasing product development and innovation; “I like getting my hands dirty,” he said. The group, which he said is currently working with “a few brands that I’ve had relationships with for a while,” will focus on CPG companies mainly, though not exclusively, in the direct-to-consumer space.

Louras’s exit from Iris Nova follows the departure of senior director of special projects Austin Allan in April.

Matt Kahn Leaves CELSIUS

CELSIUS EVP of marketing Matt Kahn confirmed this week that he has left the energy drink company, less than a year after joining in October 2018.

Kahn, a beverage industry veteran with more than 20 years of marketing experience, told BevNET that family issues led him to take an extended personal leave in July. Unable to stay in Florida where CELSIUS is headquartered, CEO John Fieldly moved to replace Kahn by appointing brand director Kyle Watson as VP of marketing.

“I’m proud of the foundation that I laid with the department,” Kahn told BevNET. “It was a privilege to be a part of the executive leadership team. I believe that under John Fieldly’s leadership CELSIUS is poised for continued long term growth. It’s a great brand with a lot of momentum.”

Watson, who was hired by Kahn in June, took the VP position this month.

“Matt Kahn had personal family issues that needed to be addressed and we wish him and his family well,” Fieldly said in a statement. “Matt was highly valued at CELSIUS and we are excited to have Kyle Watson on board who is leveraging the great foundation he created and taking us to new heights.”

Kahn said his family is “now on the other end” of the crisis and he is now beginning to explore new career opportunities.

“I’ve had most of my career in the beverage business and I love the fast-paced nature of it, the competitiveness of it and I love the fact that it’s a series of products that consumers have to drink every day versus just a luxury,” he said. “If the right opportunity presents itself in beverage that would be great, and if the right opportunity presents itself outside of beverage that would be great as well.”

Death Wish Coffee Appoints COO

Death Wish Coffee Company, the maker of highly caffeinated coffee beans and cold brew, has named Mike Pilkington as chief operating officer, a newly created position for the seven-year-old company.

Pilkington previously spent 14 years with multinational food marketer and distributor Sysco, most recently serving as the company’s president for its Albany branch.

Speaking with BevNET today, Pilkington said he became interested in the company after meeting with Death Wish founder and CEO Mike Brown two years ago. Last year the pair began speaking regularly, leading Pilkington to join the company.

“It’s an extraordinary brand that was built from the ground up by very few people,” he told BevNET. “So to see what they were able to do with a lot of hard work and a lot of passion, that was very inspiring to me and I just wanted to at some point be a part of that team and a part of that future vision for them.”

According to Pilkington, Death Wish is currently working to expand its retail presence in the U.S. Having previously focused on ecommerce, the brand has since entered retailers such as Walmart and Kroger. The brand is working to grow its recently relaunched cold brew line, which Pilkington said could help Death Wish to find placement in the convenience channel.

Death Wish, currently available in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe, is also preparing to launch in China, Pilkington said.

“I kind of look at my background with Sysco as being classically trained,” he said. “If we look at how [Death Wish does] business today, the challenge is how do we create a little more structure without stifling the creative freedom that has made the company so successful. As we get larger and larger and larger we have to think a little differently about our business but still allow the players to play.”

Dunkin’ Brands CMO Steps Down

Dunkin’ Brands, the parent company of Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins, announced in a press release last week that Tony Weisman has resigned as CMO, effective December 1.

The company is currently seeking a replacement and the marketing department will report to CEO Dave Hoffmann until a permanent CMO is hired.

“I am tremendously proud of all we have accomplished at Dunkin’ over the past two years and proud to have been part of this incredible brand at this point in its history,” Weisman said in the release. “It has been an honor to work with this management team, our strong marketing team and a great group of franchisees. I have been a passionate Dunkin’ fan my entire life and will continue to be a loyal customer as I move on to my next opportunity.”

Zing Zang Names Brent Albertson as CEO

NexPhase-owned cocktail mixer brand Zing Zang has named Brent Albertson as CEO, the company announced in a press release today.

Albertson, who previously served as the company’s president and chief commercial officer, succeeds previous CEO Doug Corbett.

“It is a privilege to take on this expanded role and to lead Zing Zang at this exciting time,” Albertson said in the release. “NexPhase’s vision and support have been instrumental to Zing Zang’s success, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to work with them, our Board, and our exceptional management team to build upon the Company’s long history of success.”