Beverage industry veteran Joe Roberts spent a number of years making a name for himself in the beverage business, so when he decided to launch Cintron Beverage Group two years ago, he had a wealth of industry knowledge and knew a few tricks of the trade. It didn’t hurt that he partnered with a successful Philadelphia-area commercial construction executive who also had a few tools at the ready, including an association with Offshore Super Series powerboat racing, which helped Cintron make a big impact in a short period of time.

Roberts, who spent his formative years in the beverage industry with Arizona Beverage Co. and juice company Apple & Eve, along with partner Wes Wyatt, introduced their line of Cintron Energy Drinks in June 2006. The company quickly gained distribution, both domestic and international, and already has added a line of teas and juice drinks.

The beverage industry, and particularly brand marketing, have always appealed to Roberts. “As a kid, my father used to bottle his own soda lines,” he says. “He owned a chain of taverns at one time and got into the beverage business, just part time. He’d take me out to the plant and I would watch the machines running and the bottles being produced. Later on in life, I actually went to work for Arizona and was very fascinated by the beverage industry — never a dull moment. The marketing and sales part of it always intrigued me.”

Wyatt, too, had a family connection to the beverage industry, Roberts says, creating a mutual interest in the business. Wyatt also lent the resources to get Cintron’s name out into the marketplace.

“One of the things I always learned in the business is that once you have a good product, if you have the right price point and you can get the distribution network, you still need marketing to build the brand, to get the customers to pull the product off the shelf,” Roberts says. “I was fascinated by some of the things that Wes was already involved in from a marketing perspective. So for me it made sense. I knew I had the ingenuity. I knew I had the drive and passion, and most of all the faith to build the business, and together we’ve done some fantastic marketing things to give us good success.”

Wyatt’s connection to the speed boat racing world allowed the company’s name to be emblazoned on Cintron Offshore Super Series racing boats. The company also commissioned a fleet of 13 Chevy HHRs that were customized by Vince Pipia of CRC Studios in Detroit to travel the country for sampling, sales calls and special events. And Cintron is a co-owner of Power Promotion, a boxing promotion operation.

Crossover appeal

Cintron products were designed with a Hispanic-inspired flavor profile and graphics, but according to the company, they are not targeted at any one ethnic group. Roberts says his experience with previous beverage brands showed him that tropical flavors appeal to range of consumers.

“I noticed a lot of No. 1 brands such as Corona, they have great crossover appeal,” he says. “So when we looked at Cintron, we said, ‘We’re not trying to cater to one specific ethnicity, but let’s have flavors where we know we’ll have a great consumer base, but also give us the ability to become mainstream.’”

The energy drink line launched in Citrus Mango and Tropical Azul flavors, which were soon followed by Pineapple Passion, Sugar Free Citrus Mango and Cranberry Splash varieties.

With a full line of energy products under its belt, Cintron launched seven varieties of iced tea, including Original, Diet, Pomegranate, Guava Passionfruit and Mango Green Teas, as well as Lemon Tea and Sweet Tea. Its most recent offerings are a range of fruit drinks in Fruit Punch, OrangeAde, GrapeAde and Watermelon Strawberry flavors. The company also has plans to roll out a line of vitamin-enhanced waters in the not-too-distant future.

According to Roberts, the company developed unique flavors and colors for each product, staying away from the more traditional energy drink profile. In addition, it chose to use sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup, and its teas are made with honey.

Cintron products are packaged in 23.5-ounce cans, and the tea and fruit drink lines are pre-priced at 99 cents, which has helped the company drive volume. The energy drinks are not pre-priced and usually retail for about $1.99 per can. Roberts says upscale graphics, even on the pre-priced items, were a priority from the start — a philosophy that likely harkens back to his days with Arizona.

“We have a tagline that we’ve coined ‘Enhance Your Life,’” he says. “A lot of times with graphics, I think people try to target a specific ethnicity or demographic of people. But we believe that premium is for everyone because everyone’s focus in life is to do better than what they’re doing today. So marketing is very important, but we believe having a regal package is important. We can have a great price point but we don’t have to look like we’re giving a value appearance.”

A higher calling

When Roberts talks about enhancing lives, he does it from several perspectives. In addition to running Cintron, he is a minister at Camden, N.J.’s Holy Spirit Cathedral, and he has brought many of his beliefs into Cintron’s business.

“One thing I believe in life is if your vision is only large enough to support you, your success will be very minimal,” he says. “But if you have a vision that is large enough to help impact other people … and if you’re trying to help communities, then your success will be great because the benefits of your good will always pay for itself.”

That’s a philosophy Wyatt shares, he says, and community giving is part of Cintron’s corporate policy. Through his association with the church, the company sponsors three daycare centers in Camden, and is a supporter of the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center. It tries to promote similar programs wherever it operates.

Balancing that philosophy with a knowledge of what it takes to do business in the fast-moving beverage industry is part of what makes Cintron’s business unique. Roberts’ background in the industry helped the company gain distribution across the Mid-Atlantic, the Northeastern United States, the Midwest and the West Coast, as well as Hawaii. In addition, Cintron products can be found in the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Canada and most recently, West Africa.

Roberts says the company invests heavily in equipment and other programs to set it apart from the competition and help its distributors sell Cintron products. For example, it has a cooler program that allows distributors to buy retail coolers at a discounted price, and it has a national shelf program for retailers.

Robert says: “Our company focus has always been to build good repeat sales for our distributors, be real partners with the distributor network we have built and let them know that they can depend on us — if they put the product in the store, we’re going to help it come out of the store.”