People Moves: Brew Dr. VP of Sales Moves to More Labs as Head of Retail

Josh Groff Leaves Brew Dr. for More Labs

Brew Dr. Kombucha VP of sales Josh Groff has joined More Labs, maker of Morning Recovery, as its new head of retail.

The industry vet, who previously held positions at Jones Soda Co, Starbucks and Stumptown, told BevNET he connected with More Labs CEO and co-founder Sisun Lee last year and joined the company as a retail sales advisor to its board last March. While they had discussed Groff potentially joining the team full time, Groff said he wanted to wait until he closed out the year at Brew Dr. with solid retail growth before making the jump.

When Groff joined the Portland, Ore.-based kombucha maker in 2017, he told BevNET his short-term goal was to “make our brand accessible to more people.” Groff said he believes that he met that goal during his tenure, during which he said he increased the brand’s distributor count from 10 to over 35.

For Groff, the appeal of More Labs lies in the untapped potential of functional beverages in the industry.

“It’s a space in the beverage industry where they’re really creating some disruption,” said Groff. “It’s relatively underdeveloped in terms of consumer habit. I saw a lot of white space, a team with a ton of horsepower and really bright, driven folks. I saw a place where I could add a lot of value.”

In his role at More Labs, Groff said he’ll be focusing on retail strategy, particularly regional growth as the brand zeroes in on distribution in core markets such as California, Nevada and Illinois.

Groff said the company’s initial focus on e-commerce will help with its expansion into brick-and-mortar retail, as it comes armed with robust consumer data. Its products are currently available at the same points of purchase as alcoholic products, including convenience, liquor and drug stores. Groff said the brand’s goal is to use its launch of multi-packs to grow into mainstream grocery retail, while also eyeing international distribution.

The company has started to lay the retail groundwork for its latest functional shot, Liquid Focus, a productivity-boosting smart drink containing adaptogens, L-theanine and B vitamins. Groff is looking forward to growing More Labs into a multi-channel, multi-product company.

“One of the reasons I was excited to come over here is when you see the products they’ve created and pipeline of future products, it’s going to be pretty groundbreaking,” he said.

Sprizzi Drink-Co Adds Two Former Coca Cola Enterprises Inc. Executives

Eco-friendly beverage system SPRiZZi Drink-Co welcomed two former Coca Cola Enterprises Inc. executives to its team last month. Tim Goff and Bob Relf will join the company as president and chief operating officer, respectively, in preparation for its U.S. launch this summer.

“With our continued growth, the addition of Goff and Relf to the leadership team allows us to proceed delivering quality products and customer service through our expansion efforts,” said SPRiZZi Drink-Co CEO Michael Breault in a release.

Goff previously served as president of the company’s subsidiary SpRiZZi Bev-Co, which produces flavor bullets. In his new role, Goff will lead management and assist them in initiating long-term goals and strategies, and will also join the board of directors. Goff spent 25 years at Coca Cola Enterprises, holding several leadership positions including North American senior VP.

Relf will oversee operations and administrative procedures to assist the company’s growth. He previously served as CEO of beverage industry repair service Gekay Sales and Service, and spent 12 years at Coca Cola in positions such as VP of equipment services.

“The SPRiZZi Drink-Co. team has really hit a home run with the company’s product environmental stance, which is not only intriguing, but exciting to see as someone coming from the industry,” said Relf.

Recess Hires Laurie Breton as Head of Supply Chain

Laurie Breton had been named head of supply chain for CBD-infused sparkling water brand Recess. In this role, Breton will oversee manufacturing, fulfillment and distribution.

“Laurie’s extensive experience in scaling manufacturing and logistics at successful, mass market CPG brands is incredibly impressive and will be instrumental as Recess rapidly scales,” said Recess founder and CEO Benjamin Witte in a release.

Breton previously held the same position at Bai Brands after the company was acquired by Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP). Prior to this, she spent 17 years at the Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS), serving as VP of operations until 2017.

Recess is currently sold in 1,400 retailers in the New York metro area, with plans to launch in nine new U.S. markets by the end of the year, according to the release.

“I’ve watched the rapid growth of Recess over the past [six] months to become the leader of this emerging new category, and I have been blown away by its innovative approach to a broad market,” said Breton.

David Holmes Joins Maine Craft Distilling Board of Directors

David Holmes, CEO of hemp-infused plant-based beverage brand PLNT Blend, has joined Maine Craft Distilling’s Board of Directors.

“I am really thrilled to join Maine Craft Distilling,” said Holmes in a release. “I have an enormous respect for how Luke [Davidson, founder and CEO] and his team have built this business from the ground up – Innovative Traditionalists, like true Mainers.”

Before co-founding Plant Life Ventures, Holmes co-founded SpikedSeltzer in 2013. Following its 2016 acquisition by Anheuser-Busch, he continued to manage marketing and creative for the brand through January 2018.

Alkazone, Weller Name New Sales VPs

Alkaline water brand Alkazone announced the addition of Michael J. O’Donnell as VP of sales. In this role, O’Donnell will oversee expanding retail distribution nationwide.

O’Donnell previously held leadership positions at Anheuser-Busch, Nestlé Waters North America and The Mountain Valley Spring Company. Most recently, O’Donnell served as president of the Belmullet Food and Beverage Group, providing sales and marketing service for food and beverage brands.

Elsewhere, CBD-infused food and beverage brand Weller announced the addition of Megan Siegel Jansen as VP of sales, where she will oversee the sales team as the brand focuses on growing the brand nationally in food service, retail and alternative channels.

“John [Simmons, co-founder], Matt [Oscamou, co-founder] and the entire Weller team have done an amazing job at establishing Weller as a pioneering CBD brand and I look forward to accelerating their growth and accessibility on a larger scale,” said Jansen in a release.

Jansen previously served as VP of sales at chai tea brand Bhakti Chai.