Food & Drink International - Winter 2017, Volume 2 - 68
PUSH Beverages has evolved from humble origins to become a growing force
across the United States. By Jim Harris
Headquarters: Succasunna, N.J.
Specialty: Soda, tea and water
Laurel Whitney, CFO, and Moti
Almakias, CEO: "The product has
grown without us really even trying."
>> PUSH Beverages' products have become so popular it says it gets daily inquiries from distributors wanting to carry the brand.
or the first few years of its
existence, PUSH Beverages had a simple mission: to
keep its founders' vending
business profitable during the Great
Recession in 2008.
"We were working harder for less
money because our clients who used
to have 300 people in one facility now
had 100, but wanted the same service, and the major brands kept raising their prices," CFO Laurel Whitney
says. "With the economy being where
it was, we were unable to raise prices
to our customers, but wanted to keep
the company intact and avoid layoffs."
Whitney and her partner Moti Almakias, then president of New Jer-
sey-based Full Service Vending, began looking into starting their own
beverage brand to offset the cost
of the other brands. The company
served customers in New York, New
Jersey and Pennsylvania. "We were
reading studies that said when the
economy went bad, people lost their
brand loyalty. If it was a good product at a good cost, people would buy
it regardless of the name," she adds.
Whitney, who has a background in
public relations and marketing, and
Almakias, who has a Wall Street
background, felt they had the skill set
and experience in the food business
needed to make this happen.
PUSH Beverages launched in early
food & drink international * winter 2017 volume 2 * www.fooddrink-magazine.com
2009 with four flavors - orange, pineapple, ginger ale and grape - sold
exclusively in Full Service Vending's machines alongside four other
brands. "We did this seamlessly, and
with no pushbacks from our customers," Whitney says. "The products
were good, and we had a built-in,
Word quickly spread of the quality
and value of PUSH Beverages, leading the vending company to introduce
new flavors and offer products to local hospitals, YMCAs and restaurants.
In 2010, the company introduced a
gluten-free, cane sugar-based real-brewed tea, Tribe Tea. The Tribe
Tea package featured a wild and edgy
design that caught a lot of attention.
Soon, PUSH Beverages was approached by one of the largest distributors in the region, which wanted
to carry the brand because "everyone
was asking for it," Whitney says. After initially declining the offer, PUSH
Beverages then reconsidered, allowing the distributor to carry the brand
and sell to other vending companies.
"Before we knew it, we made it on
the Top 10 list of best-selling products
for the vending distributor's branch,"