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Sparkling ICE appoints CFO Marcus Smith as CEO as Kevin Klock makes surprise exit

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By Elaine Watson+

Last updated on 13-Mar-2017 at 17:09 GMT2017-03-13T17:09:15Z

No reason has been given for Klock's abrupt departure
No reason has been given for Klock's abrupt departure

As industry leaders gathered in Anaheim for the Expo West show, Talking Rain (Sparkling ICE) CEO and president Kevin Klock made a sudden, surprise, exit from the business he helped turn into one of the biggest success stories in the beverage aisle over the past decade.

In a statement issued Friday, Talking Rain announced Klock's departure, but offered no explanation for it, and said chief financial officer Marcus Smith had assumed Klock's responsibilities with immediate effect, with "full shareholder support."

The statement added: "Senior leadership is working closely together with Smith to ensure a seamless transition in the continued execution of strategies in place, and to guarantee that customers and distributors will be serviced at the highest level. Current plans, partners, and forward momentum will remain as Talking Rain continues to position the company for a successful future as part of the ever-changing beverage landscape."

Serving as living proof that you can go all the way to the top of the food-chain with an engineering/operations background, Klock took Sparkling ICE – a 21-year old brand that was not setting the world on fire - from $10m to more than $650m in retail sales in six years.

Klock started his career as a production supervisor at Ralston Purina before spending seven years at Nestlé in a variety of operations and leadership positions. His next move was to Dairy Farmers of America as plant manager of a facility producing Frappucino for the Pepsi/Starbuck’s joint venture.

Klock - who has a chemical engineering degree from Oregon State University - joined Talking Rain in 2006 as vice president of operations, becoming senior vice president and general manager in 2010, president in 2011 and CEO in 2013.

Click HERE to read our Feb 15 interview with Klock about the new $37m 'Be not bland' ad campaign for Sparkling ICE, at which sales growth has slowed a little over the past 12 months as the brand has made a push beyond grocery into foodservice and convenience channels.

“I can confirm that Kevin Klock is departing his post as Talking Rain’s President and CEO. As part of the leadership team that has built a strong foundation for future growth, which has included expanding our team, introducing new products and extensions, establishing the only national independent distribution network, and improving our operations to reduce overhead, together with our shareholders we are confident in our plans to continue our success and growth as we move the business forward.”

Marcus Smith

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