Nantucket Nectars’ “Juice Guys” Bottle Formula for Success With Quality Ingredients The island of Nantucket is known for its entrepreneurial spirit. Tom Scott and Tom First caught that fever nine years ago when they started peddling Nantucket Nectars in the island’s harbor. Now the self-proclaimed “Juice guys” hold the number-two spot in the New Age beverage market. To say the Juice guys started their company, Nantucket Nectars, on a shoestring budget would be an understatement.
The two Toms built a multi-million dollar company with an initial investment limited to a $170 bottle-cap hand press, recycled ottles and an assortment of fruit. They had no formal business training and conducted no market research. Their business was born from trial and error. First, a Boston native, says it was a willingness to learn every aspect of the business, along with their own naivet© that kept their dream alive in the early years. “If we had ever written out a business plan in 1992, we would have gone to do something else,” admits First.
He says since the duo didn’t know how to do a cash flow projection and had no idea that their business was sinking. “In the early 1990s we ran the business ut of a cash box, and if there was anything left in the cash box at the end of the day, we thought we were making money,” he muses. Nantucket Nectars products are now sold in 30 states, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Compared to mainstream titans in the $15 billion fruit and tea beverage industry, the Toms are still a niche operation. However, their company is increasing its growth rate each year and expanding its product line as well.
Besides Juice, the company now offers a line of teas, as well as Super Nectars, nutritionally enhanced juices that include food additives like gingko biloba. The story of Nantucket Nectars blossomed from a desire to break tradition, to shun the corporate world, with its suit-and-tie lifestyle. The Toms have succeeded in doing this with sheer determination, creative marketing and most of all, a high-quality product. This combination has gained them attention from both consumers and the media as the undisputed “Juice guys. ” And First says they are still having fun.
Squeezing Out an Idea Nantucket Nectars holds the second place in the New Age beverage market, trailing only behind Snapple. But the road to this distinction has been long and sometimes umpy. Although both First and Scott hold college degrees, neither had any hard- and-fast business experience before starting Nantucket Nectars. Scott graduated with an American Civilization degree, First in History. But the two knew they didn’t want to enter the American workforce and spend their lives climbing a corporate ladder. attending Brown. Scott, a Maryland native, sought a way to live on a seasonal Nantucket year round.
He quickly started Terrapin Painters on Cape Cod. While he says it was far from an ideal Job, he still preferred it to working for someone else. And ven though his painting business brought in enough to pay the bills, Scott was soon distracted by what he saw as a better opportunity. With the many vessels entering the harbor, an obvious need arose for a service- oriented business. Boaters had to come to shore to eat, refuel, restock, do laundry, and run various other errands. Scott’s idea was to deliver essential items to boaters via his own boat. He recognized the possibilities of this idea and went straight to First.
Shortly after, in 1989, the two twenty-something entrepreneurs began offering a boat-to-boat delivery service in Nantucket Harbor called Allserve. Customers would radio Allserve with a request, and the Toms would sail in their 19-foot red Sea Way directly to the boater with supplies. This saved the customer hours of time each day and made Allserve an instant success. The Toms would do almost anything to keep their newfound business afloat. In fact, Allserve provided more than Just a delivery service. The duo performed the oddest of jobs – things others didn’t want or have time to do.
They’re motto: ‘Ain’t nothing them boys wont do. ‘ The young business owners shampooed their share of dogs and cleaned a good number of boats to keep their dream alive. More than alive, Allserve would thrive and expand to include two more boats in its fleet that summer. When the busy season ended, it was time for the boys to return to Brown and complete their education. Little did they know they were on the brink of discovering a multi-million dollar business with only a strong entrepreneurial spirit, a modest amount of money and a recipe for success.
They could not know it then, but Allserve would lead them to the first channel of distribution for their future Juice business. After graduating college, the two returned to the island of Nantucket to pick up here they left off with Allserve. But they knew once the season ended, the winter months would be challenging at best. “We were looking for ways to make our business year-round, and we were involved in a lot of different things. We were involved in the scallop industry, storing boats in the winter, servicing engines. We even distributed bread,” explains First.
Only a brave few people dared to endure the slow winter months on the island, but those who did had to stick together. Cook-offs were common on many nights, where Nantucket natives gathered to show off their culinary skills. First would bring the juice. This was not Just any Juice, but a special creation influenced by his travels in Seville, Spain, where nectars are popular refreshment. “l sort of became infatuated with this Juice,” says First. “There was nothing like it in the United States. So when I nectar and pure cane sugar. The islanders loved it.
A Juicy Opportunity The Toms quickly realized the potential of this tasty fruit creation and headed to their local grocers that same evening. “One night, we started mixing fruits in a blender. We bought all sorts of fruits from our local grocery store and came up with some concoctions that are probably better left forgotten,” says First. But he says they did hit upon some great flavors, including the ever-popular Orange Mango Juice cocktail. The next spring, Allserve would include a glorified floating lemonade stand in its repertoire of services.
They sold a lot of peach Juice to thirsty boaters that summer. And while they felt this might be the idea that hit it big, their Juice business started as Just another way to boost Allserve’s summer sales. “We were doing so many different things, we thought eventually maybe something will stick,” says First. Nantucket Nectar’s early channels of manufacturing and distribution were quite rimitive in comparison to the bottling plants they use today. “Basically we were producing the Juice by hand out of an ice cream store for a while, and Just selling it to a few stores on Nantucket,” says First.