Gunning for Success in Gum
If you've ever dreamed of starting your own business, you can probably relate to Kevin Gass and Laurence Molloy, co-founders of GumRunners LLC, marketer of Jolt Gum and the soon-to-be-introduced NutraTrim Weight Management Gum.
Experienced packaged goods marketers who met on the job at Colgate-Palmolive in the early 1990s, each man had harbored his own entrepreneurial inclinations. Finally, says Gass, “We decided it was now or never.” In 2001, they took the leap, founding GumRunners.
Molloy had an extra incentive to succeed at his new venture; a week after quitting his job, he learned that his wife was pregnant with twins.
As veteran marketers, Gass, 38, and Molloy, 39, did their homework before homing in on the caffeinated gum market opportunity. They devoted two years to product development before arriving at a formulation they deemed worthy of the Jolt name, rights to which they had secured from Jolt Cola marketer, Wet Planet Beverages. With the product concept in place, they began making presentations to retailers. After some initial challenges, the gum began to establish a foothold, and today it’s sold in more than 35,000 stores nationwide, they report.
Recently, Gass and Molloy hired 25-year-old Texan Matt Gearhart, whom they met while working with their Texas-based convenience-store broker, TNT marketing.
Next up for Gum Runners is the launch of Nutra-Trim weight management gum, fortified with metabolism-boosting, appetite-curbing ingredients including green tea, l-carnitine and chromium picolinate. The gum has been well received by retailers. So far, “only one has said no,” reports Molloy. The new gum is shipping now, with an official launch date set for Dec. 26, just in time for diet season. n
Seattle Chocolate's Koppelman
Battles M.S. One Stroke at a Time
In March 2001, just six months after his wedding, Seattle Chocolate regional vice president, Eric Koppelman, now 32, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His health slowly deteriorated to the point where walking even 100 yards was a struggle. Medication, diet and various forms of exercise failed to have a lasting, positive impact.
Then early this year, at the suggestion of his wife, Laurel, an accomplished tri-athlete, Koppelman started swimming three or four times a week. Within a few weeks, his strength and coordination improved, and Koppelman, a life-long competitive athlete, entered a .5 mile race. He finished respectably in the middle of the pack of non-disabled swimmers, and an idea was born. Koppelman decided to continue competing, and beyond that, to use the races as a way to raise money for M.S. research. He established the Swim for a Cure Foundation, had a Web site created and mapped out a race schedule. He’s accomplished all this while working and being dad to a new daughter, who was born in April.
If you’d like to help support the cause, donations payable to Swim for a Cure Foundation may be mailed to 70 Battery Place, Suite 115, New York, N.Y., 10280. Or check out the 2006 race schedule on the Web at www.swimforacure.org.