RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 16 Bill Hargis never gave up as hebattled corporate investors as they took over and bankrupted his drink companyin 2005. What the experience taught him about greed and ethics "isn't the kindof thing you learn in MBA school," he says. Hargis rebounded and put thateducation to good use, pulling together an experienced management team thisyear to create 4U2U Brands, makers of "Fruit 66," a healthy juice drink forschool-aged children.
As co-founder and CEO of The Switch Beverage Company, Hargis grew thatbrand into a multi-million-dollar international business by 2005, when thecompany caught the attention of acquisition-hungry investors.
"I couldn't believe what an investment group was willing to do to ourshareholders and creditors to take over and bankrupt the company," Hargissays. "It was hard to watch, but a great education in preparation for how togrow Fruit 66 both profitably and ethically." (The saga of The Switch BeverageCompany is the March 2006 cover story of Inc. Magazine athttp://www.inc.com/magazine/20060301/confessions.html.)
Hargis recently debuted Fruit 66 for a market that he was instrumental indeveloping -- schools. "Having a child in middle school, we often see theresults of improper choices in diet," he says. "Other juice drinks are toohighly caloric and lack the nutrients kids need."
Fruit 66 is an all-natural carbonated juice that contains only 80calories, 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C, 10% ofthe RDA of Iron, and 10% of the RDA of Calcium. The drink was developed withthe help of school food service directors and nutritionists throughout thecountry. It is currently distributed to schools in California and becomingavailable across the US, sold in 8-oz "squat" cans. "We didn't want to use the'energy drink' can because our research showed it sets a bad precedent forkids," says Hargis.
The company donates a portion of their proceeds to the School NutritionAssociation to help fund scholarships and school nutrition research.
Hargis has started companies in various industries, including co-foundingThe Switch Beverage Company in 2000 with Mike Gilbert (who left the company in2002). He is the co-founder of Virginia-based 4U2U Brands and creator of the"Fruit 66" line of healthy products (www.fruit-66.com).
SOURCE Fruit 66