Jimmy Rosenberg was looking for a way to make some dough in the summer of 1983. He got this idea…sell juice on the beach. So he got some fruit, blended it in his kitchen, and started selling the juice by the cup (poured from a jug) on the beach in Santa Monica. Little did he know that inauspicious start would lead to the formation of two mega juice companies – Naked Juice and Evolution Fresh.
His first attempt, a pretty impressive first attempt by the way, was a company called The Naked Juice Company. After growing it to a size that allowed him to serve most of California, he sold it and got out of the juice business entirely. But not for long. Two years later, with a renewed commitment to delivering the highest quality juice possible to consumers, he started Evolution Fresh. He steered this company for 19 years before being acquired by Starbucks in 2011.
Before I sat down with Jimmy, I didn’t tell him that I’d be asking him for photos and a bio, or that I’d be posting his story about this podcast on social media. He’s a very private person. He’s never been on social media and has never shared these incredible stories about the two companies he’s championed. Fortunately for us all, and in spite of this, he agreed to proceed. I’m incredibly grateful for his willingness to share his story, and trust me, you will be too!
The thing I relate to most about Jimmy – he’s just an ordinary guy like you and me. But for some reason, he was willing to listen, to experiment, to put in the hard work, to be open to learning on the job, and to be steadfast in his commitment to never sacrifice the quality of his product. These have all be part of his journey, all part of the reason he’s been so successful, twice!
Listen. Love. Learn. This story has it all. Enjoy!
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Episode Notes – #142: Jimmy Rosenberg
- Andy & Jimmy first met at the University of Santa Monica.
- The early roots of the fresh juice business – 1983.
- Getting an intuitive download, “Sell juice on the beach.” (Like from Field of Dreams – “If you build it, they will come.”)
- Doing the daily work – 3 am trip to the produce mart, back to mom’s kitchen, make 6 gallons of juice, take it to the beach, sell it by the cup to people on the beach.
- Making the summer job into a business – juicing during the down hours in a local supermarket and selling juice to restaurants and supermarkets.
- How Jimmy created an entirely new juice category. Making combinations of freshly extracted fruit and vegetables into different juice flavors.
- Three types of juices – pressing (pulping vegetables, and pressing the juice out of the pulp) citrus extraction, blending
- “U Like Juice Company” became “U Like Juice Company’s Naked Juice” became “Naked Juice.”
- At the time he sold it, Naked Juice was only available inside of California.
- Jimmy’s “learn as you go” philosophy – being completely ill-equipped to deal with all the elements of growing a company that size.
- Jimmy’s persistent and fierce commitment to the quality of his product.
- Biggest hurdle involved product recalls (for his fanatical insistence on taste quality). Back then, voluntary recalls of a food product indicated to retailers that he had high product integrity. Today, it means something entirely different.
- Chiquita Bananas came on board as a non-majority partner.
- C.B. subsequently insisted on changing the product ingredients and pasteurizing to reduce the raw material costs and make the finished product more profitable. As a result, Jimmy decided to leave and sell for $4-5 million, and move on, after 7 years in business.
- Jimmy immediately shifted gears (2-year non-compete) and started a company to sell pre-washed lettuce, but his heart was in the juice business.
- Both Naked Juice and Odwalla became pasteurized juice companies – which made them both compromised products since they didn’t taste as good as fresh, non-pasteurized juice.
- The day that the non-compete ended, he jumped back into the juice business and started a new company, “Evolution Fresh”. A fresh, non-pasteurized juice company.
- A couple years later – a Big event in the juice business. Odwalla sold a product that resulted in the death of a baby. FDA got involved and regulated the sale of distributed fresh juice. REQUIRED pasteurization.
- EF had to adapt on the fly. They became a “flash-pasteurized” juice company, heating it to the most minimal temp for the minimum amount of time required.
- This increased shelf life from 10 days to 20 days.
- INNOVATION – Costco buyer gives Jimmy an idea. High-pressure processing that was being used by the avocado industry. Jimmy could potentially use this to get back to manufacturing fresh pressed, unpasteurized juice.
- Jimmy take a huge leap, raises $12 million to purchase $3 million high-pressure processing machine and turn EF into a national company (due to increases in shelf-life, up to 45 days).
- HPP raises the pressure enough to kill any potential pathogen, satisfying FDA, without sacrificing flavor of the juice.
- There is no true definition of cold pressed. If you’re not heating or pasteurizing, you could say that you’re cold pressing.
- Current EF manufacturing process, from harvest on the farm to finished product out the door, takes less than 6 days.
- After 7 years in business, Starbucks approached Jimmy.
- Getting the call from Starbucks and then hanging out for a day with Howard Schultz
- Starbucks agrees to build a $100 million cold-pressed juicery as part of the buyout.
- Quality of the product today is better than it’s ever been.
- Belcampo – Organic grass-fed meat supplier and restaurant in Santa Monica
- The Three Principles – mind, consciousness, and thought
- The Three Principles Global Community
- Jimmy’s Daily Non-negotiables
- Plant-based diet with some fish thrown in – currently
- No food before 10am
- Homemade Smoothie
- Making homemade nut butters from sprouted seeds and nuts
- Avocados and gluten-free bread
- Listening to inner wisdom and intuition
- Start the day with a hike
- Yoga practice
- Meditation – irregular practice, but has been a highly beneficial practice in his life
- 8 hours of sleep; get to bed by 10pm
- Surfing in Costa Rica (warm water, clean, fresh)
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