Many firms are focused on one thing: being the biggest in their industry, channel or category, and most don’t have the experience, understanding or patience to get there. Shadow Beverages and Snacks focuses more on staying in touch with the industry and brands/organizations that need the knowledge and resources from incubation to product of the year, partner and co-founder Sam Jones says.
“We keep our eye on the pulse of the market,” he says. “As long as we stay focused … the business of Shadow will grow two or three times per year.”
The Phoenix-based Shadow specializes in building beverage brands, and can do everything from manufacturing the drinks to creating the go-to-market plans, Jones says. He and partner George Martinez founded the company in 2008, after working for other firms in the beverage industry.
The two gained experience working at Pepsi and SoBe. In 2008, Jones and Martinez decided to work together and build a beverage business plan that was inclusive of incubation and longevity within the beverage space. “We wanted to create an operating company which could handle more than one brand, similar to the large consumer product companies like DPSG, Pepsi and Coke – a house to more than one brand,” Jones recalls.
Today, Shadow’s beverage portfolio includes GNC-Live Well sports nutrition, nutritional waters and protein drinks; No Fear energy supplement; and WheyUP protein and caffeine beverages. While Shadow has created some of its brands, and it has acquired or licensed others.
“We believe we can help [those] and take [them] to another place,” Jones says, noting that some of its drinks have representation in 35 states. “We have a pretty wide door in regards to where we manufacture and how we distribute.”
One brand that Shadow agreed to distribute is No Fear, which was introduced by SoBe in 2003. After deciding the brand still had legs in the market, Shadow added it to its portfolio.
“We just really assimilated that line [and] gave it the support that it needed,” Jones says, noting that the line comprises 35 percent of Shadow’s business today.
Jones credits Shadow’s success to its associates. “It is [due to] those quality people that represent Shadow well when dealing with a customer or distributor,” he says.
“We all contribute in some shape or fashion,” he continues, noting that its staff has had to be flexible. “Just because you’re a salesperson, it doesn’t mean you do not wear multiple hats.”
Its management team, he notes, has more than 300 years of beverage experience. This includes Martinez, who was with Pepsi for more than 23 years. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for [him],” Jones says.
He also praises Director of Supply Chain Allen Warner. “[He brought] us from a small company doing less than 100,000 cases a year to where we are today,” Jones says.
Warner’s experience also includes 25 years with Pepsi Americas. “For him to take all that experience and work for us is a big nod for what we’re doing,” Jones says.
Ready for Growth
In 2013, Jones expects Shadow to triple in size. “We’ll start increasing our staff accordingly as well,” he says, predicting that it will grow to from 33 to 50 employees.
In addition, the company is talks to have its beverages carried in schools, and plans to add food products to its lines. “We’ve got a couple meat snacks that you’ll probably see or hear about in 2013,” he says.
He also expects Shadow to manufacture line extensions of its products. For instance, Shadow will offer its No Fear beverages in different packages, and it will launch protein shakes under the GNC brand.
“Protein, in general, is a great beverage category to be in,” he says. “From a heavy protein user to someone that is trying it for the first time, the protein category continues to show strong growth and new consumers and innovative brands have real potential in this category.”