Sep 22, 2016
Two beverage empires came from humble beginnings. Greg Steltenpohl realized that playing saxophone in an avante garde punk jazz band wasn’t going to pay the bills, so in 1980 he and his buddies decided to start a juice business. They would hand-squeeze oranges out of the back of his VW van and deliver the product& to nearby restaurants in Half Moon Bay. More than two decades later, the company called Odwalla had pioneered a fresh juice craze and was acquired by Coca-Cola for $181 million--much to his chagrin, because they lost the vision in the process. He is seeking redemption through his current business, Califia Farms. He is rethinking food to make agriculture more sustainable, and he is driven to change our love affair with cattle. His entrepreneurial drive isn’t always healthy, though. At one point he needed a liver transplant and he was so single-minded he ignored the very real threat to his life and continued to launch his company. Greg recounts many of the challenges he faced over the years building his businesses, from draughts to e. coli. His story reminds us of the unglamorous moments and the often long slog it takes to build something big. And he shares what it feels like to have a boardroom full of suits sell his company out from under him—and his determination to give it another go through Califia Farms.
Today, the company is launching a new line of coffee beverages, and over samples of cold brew Greg shares his leadership advice and his top three tips for entrepreneurs wanting to make it in the beverage industry.
The views expressed on The Art of Manufacturing podcast are those of the guests, and not our sponsors or partners. For show notes with pictures and more information, visit http://makeitinla.org/gregsteltenpohl