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Holland Building DSD Net For Activate With Longtime Distributor’s Perspective; Calif, Ariz and Hawaii Are Initial Targets

Beverage Business INSIGHTS:

Activate Beverage prexy Dan Holland figures he’s uniquely positioned to foster effective working relationship with demanding DSD distributors: after all, for more than 30 yrs, he was of that breed himself. As reported, Dan recently left role as vp/gm of Haralambos Beverage Co in LA to run brand launched by youthful entrepreneurs Anders Eisner and Burke Eiteljorg, in process reuniting with Bill Anderson, core Activate investor via his First Beverage Ventures for whose family’s beer distributorships Holland had worked previous 27 yrs (BBI, Jul 1). So what does that perspective mean in practical terms? Holland says prospective distributors can count on Activate’s maintaining 3 principles: best agreement in biz regarding buyouts, adequate feet on street to support brand, and equity opportunity for distributor partners. “It’s my 1st shot on this side of the table, but hopefully my distributor experience will help,” he said. Note that similar experience is unfolding on East Coast where former Big Geyser ceo Harold Baron has jumped to ceo spot pitching Beverage Innovation’s Venga functional infusions to distribs (BBI, Jul 1). Activate, of course, is among flock of functional lines coming to market that drop active ingredients into liquid at time of use, for greater efficacy; interesting product proposition and substantial kitty have generated considerable buzz in trade.

In initial mos on job Holland has been scrambling to assemble comprehensive DSD network for Calif, Ariz and Hawaii by Labor Day, with Midwest markets like Ind and Ill likely next and then East Coast. In launch market, 4 counties of LA metro served by Haralambos Beverage, he’s brought on 1 regional mgr and is seeking 2 more, each of whom will hire 3-5 area sales reps. Brand has entered upscale retailers like Bristol Farms, Gelson’s and Henry’s Market, and is being presented to major grocery chains. He’s confident of bringing Paradise Beverage aboard in Hawaii shortly, and is readying presentations to distribs in northern Calif and Ariz. Recruited as sales dir is former Cadbury exec Joe McCoy, who’ll be managing sales force that is planned to grow to 50+ by May, not counting East Coast. Production currently is at Chameleon Beverage in City of Commerce.

Dan readily acknowledges that 55 is somewhat advanced age to hang out shingle as entrepreneur for 1st time, but says he’s relishing the hurly-burly. As for split with Haralambos Beverage owner Tony Haralambos, that was amicable, coming at time that distrib has had to sharply downsize after losing brands like Vitaminwater, Honest Tea, Muscle Milk and several beer brands during brands’ transitions to new owners. Holland said he made case that he wasn’t as crucial to operation right now as key sales execs. Besides, he joked, “Tony’s a big investor (in Activate) – so I’m watching his money.”