By Martin Caballero
Roughly six months after departing premium water brand Voss of Norway as CEO, beverage industry veteran Jack Belsito has joined private equity firm First Beverage Ventures as a managing partner.
Belsito had been at the helm of Voss from 2010. Prior to his departure, he shepherded a multi-year agreement with PepsiCo’s foodservice division to distribute the Voss at select channels. He remains an shareholder in in the company.
First Beverage Ventures is the investment arm of First Beverage Group, an advisory and investment firm founded headquartered in Los Angeles. Its portfolio includes non-alcoholic beverage brands such as Health-Ade Kombucha, Q Drinks, Project Juice, and Essentia, as well as liquor delivery app Drizly and mezcal line Gem&Bolt.
Belsito will be based in First Beverage Venture’s New York City offices.
Speaking to BevNET earlier today, Belsito said he took a patient approach towards exploring potential career opportunities before deciding to join First Beverage.
“I trusted the process,” he said, evoking the phrase famously used by Philadelphia 76ers management to explain the NBA team’s slow, methodical approach to rebuilding its squad. “I didn’t prepare anything for what came next, and I gave myself some time and talked to a lot of people about a lot of different things.”
Belsito said his interest in supporting beverage entrepreneurs and emerging brands began during his tenure at Snapple Beverage Group, where he served as a senior vice president and as president of RC Cola Company. Following Snapple’s $1.45 billion acquisition by Cadbury Schweppes in 2000, he continued at the company in multiple senior management roles, including president of Snapple Distributing Company, president of Mott’s USA, and president and CEO of Snapple Beverage Group.
“I met a lot of entrepreneurs in the industry and spent a lot of time with them,” he said. “They always had an open door and saw things well before Coke and Pepsi saw them.
Following his departure from Cadbury in 2007, Belsito was under a non-compete clause that prevented him for working directly at another beverage company. However, he said he continued to spend time watching the market and speaking with industry figures, including First Beverage founder and CEO Bill Anderson. Their relationship continued to develop following Belsito’s appointment at Voss, including speaking at First Beverage conferences and referring work to the firm.
“He was the first person to call me after the news [about leaving Voss],” Belsito said. “We spoke and over time we decided [joining First Beverage] was the right thing to do.”
“I’ve known Jack for many years and have long admired his successes, his track record and most importantly, his reputation,” said Anderson in a press release. “Jack is an outstanding individual and a very accomplished leader. His achievements, network and knowledge of the industry will be a perfect fit for the hands-on, value-add approach we take with our portfolio companies.”
“It’s a great opportunity for me to join First Beverage; their reputation is outstanding and Bill is a great guy,” Belsito added. “I’m fortunate I get to choose kind of who I work with at this point in my life and this is a decision I’m making that I’m excited about because of who I’m working with.”