Beverage Industry last covered Monster Energy in our December 2007 cover story. At that time, Monster’s leadership team, including this year’s Executive of the Year honoree Rodney Sacks, chairman and chief executive officer of Hansen Natural Corp., was somewhat reluctant to participate in our cover photo shoot. Sacks, along with Monster Beverage Co. President Mark Hall and Hansen Natural Vice Chairman and President Hilton Schlosberg, obliged for the cover photo, but the company also extended an invitation to the Monster Beverage staff.

Employees were notified that the magazine was conducting a photo shoot that evening at the company’s warehouse near its Corona, Calif., headquarters. To take advantage of the large neon Monster claw sign on the side of the building, we planned the photo shoot for dusk. It was stunning to see the number of Monster employees who stayed after business hours to gather for a group photo shoot, which was published inside the magazine alongside the article.

With the team atmosphere and camaraderie showcased during that 2007 photo shoot, I was not surprised that a similar hesitation to be in the spotlight occurred when we informed the Hansen Natural Corp. team that Sacks had been chosen by our Executive of the Year committee as this year’s honoree.

Sacks accepted the 2011 Executive of the Year title as an honor for the company and an embodiment of the continued success of Hansen Natural Corp., especially the Monster Energy brand, which has become its flagship. In the article, Sacks focuses on the company’s growth through the years, recent innovations on the Hansen Natural side of its business and advances within the Monster Energy brand, which were all reasons why the committee chose Sacks.

This year, Sacks once again is not alone in our cover photo. Instead of fellow Hansen Natural Corp. employees, Sacks is joined by extended members of the Monster family: professional skateboarders Pierre-Luc Gagnon and Jake Brown.

The photo shoot was conducted at a 50-foot-tall vert ramp constructed by Monster and apparel company DC for use as a private practice ramp for a handful of the brands’ sponsored athletes, including Brown and Gagnon, who is known as PLG.

During the interview, Sacks repeatedly referred to Monster’s extended family of athletes, musicians and celebrities as well as its lesser-renown partners, such as a local Corona, Calif., convenience store owner who dedicates a large percentage of his store to Monster-branded products. It was impressive how easily Sacks transitioned from speaking about the company to admiring the athletes’ tricks and talking skateboarding with PLG and Brown.

As the two skateboarders whizzed behind and over him, Sacks’ relaxed demeanor was a small testament to why the team player was chosen as Beverage Industry’s 2011 Executive of the Year. BI