Management Split at RelaxZen

RelaxZen, Inc., the marketer of the relaxation shots of the same name, has announced the resignation of its CEO and co-founder, Nick West. The other co-founder (and “Chief Zen Officer”), Brent Sonnek-Schmelz, is remaining with the company as its new CEO.

According to the co-founders, money troubles and personality differences – the pair have a 20-plus year age difference – exacerbated by the stress of running a startup led to West’s departure.

“We mutually agreed that it was in the best interest to have one person steer the ship,” West told BevNET in a telephone call. “Brent is a very capable guy. I shall remain a significant shareholder and I fully support the management that remains in place in their effort to make RelaxZen an iconic brand.”

“Nick and I had a great run,” added Sonnek-Schmelz. “I appreciate everything he has done for the company and wish him all the best in his next endeavors.”

The move comes at the end of what had been an up-and-down year for the young company. After debuting in 2009, the co-founders decided to try to sell their shots through independent DSD networks – one of the only shot companies to try that strategy. Based in New Jersey, RelaxZen has distribution covering Maine to Washington, D.C. In early 2011 it is launching with Southern California giant Haralambos Beverages in Los Angeles and will also be available in 1000 Hess gas stations across the country. Still, the brand is very much in its infancy, with sales rumored to be south of $2.5 million.

“2010 was the year of building distribution for us,” said Sonnek-Schmelz. “2011 will be the year of driving the consumers to the product through marketing.”

Editor's Note: Readers wishing to contact Nick West can do so at Brent Sonnek-Schmelz can be contacted at