Jones Soda has been one of the most distinct companies in the beverage industry since it was founded by Peter Van Solk in 1995. With an eponymous line of premium soda known for its unique flavors and ever-changing labels submitted by its customers, Jones Soda became a bonafide success story by 2005. However, Jones Soda’s time as a top beverage manufacturer didn’t last long, as the company saw losses in almost 10 straight years that nearly put the firm to its death.
Jones Soda announced an $11.6 million loss in 2007, and after losing an additional $15 million in 2008, the company was forced to downsize 40% of its workforce. The sudden fall of Jones Soda’s revenues at that time was attributed to two factors: its failed attempt to expand into canned soda to compete with industry giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and the Great Recession of 2007-2008 that only left a few businesses untouched.
Though Jones Soda had five different CEOs between 2007 and 2016, the company still failed to have a single profitable year during that time period. Jones Soda’s losses, however, had significantly decreased since Jennifer Cue rejoined the company in 2012.
Cue served as CFO, COO, and a member of Jones Soda’s board of directors from 1995 to 2005, when she left the company to live abroad and pursue other business interests. Seven years later, Cue officially rejoined the company, taking on the role of CEO.
Why Jones Soda almost went out of business?
In an interview with MyNorthWest.com shortly after her appointment, Cue said that Jones Soda’ earnings went down after the company lost its edge. “We got too corporate along the way. There were numerous leadership changes which were a little bit too corporate for the company,” Cue explained. “We launched a lot of different products along the way, and we lost our focus on Jones Soda.”
Cue went on to admit that Jones Soda’s overspending in the past years also contributed to the company’s then-near death. “When I came back, we were about a $17-million-in-revenue company spending $11 million before manufacturing costs and losing $7 million annually,” said Cue. “Cuts were necessary across the board, and our expenses had to be reined in.”
How did Jones Soda recover from years of financial losses?
Jones Soda started to bounce back from its losses after Cue began reducing the company’s spending on marketing, advertising, and salary. “In addition to reducing our spending on things like marketing and advertising as well as moving our headquarters to cut the rent in half, I came in as CEO at a very low salary offset by equity,” Cue shared. “Shortly after that, the entire board took a major pay cut too.”
Cue also exercised options to acquire 1.8 million shares of Jones Soda, which injected over $500,000 into the company itself. Several years after, that number grew to $680,000. “I want to go big, but I want it to be the right kind of big,” said Cue. “So we put into place things like a variable commission program for our sales team and started tying the company’s performance to the employees’ own bottom lines.”
Jones Soda’s sales also began to go up following the 2016 launch of the company’s new website, which gave control back to their customers, and made buying and interacting much easier. By the end of that year, the company’s revenue topped $15.7 million and gross profits, $4.1 million.
Though Cue vacated her position as CEO in 2020 (she was replaced by Mark Murray in December of that year), her time as the top executive of Jones Soda was significant, as she managed to save the company from its brink of extinction by returning to the root of its initial success ― its customers. As Cue once said, “You don’t have to spend your way to success. You just have to love the people you serve.”
About Jones Soda
Jones Soda is a Seattle-based beverage company that produces and sells a variety of soft drinks, non-carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and candy. Known in the beverage industry for having the most unique packaging, Jones Soda puts its products in colorful glass bottles that can be customized.
Founded in 1986 by Peter van Stolk, Jones Soda was originally marketed as a premium alternative to mainstream soda brands. Its soda line comes in a variety of unique flavors, including root beer, berry lemonade, strawberry lime, blue bubblegum, green apple, cream soda, and orange & cream soda, among many others.
Jones Soda also manufactures cannabis-infused beverages under its Mary Jones brand.
What sets Jones Soda apart from other soft drink brands?
Jones Soda has been known for using pure cane sugar in its beverages, which gives them a unique and distinctive flavor compared to other sodas that use artificial flavors as sweeteners.
Pure cane sugar is a type of sweetener made from sugar cane. It is a natural sweetener that is often used as an alternative to refined white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Pure cane sugar is also considered to be a healthier alternative to other types of sweeteners, as it is less processed and has a lower glycemic index.
How long does a Jones Soda drink last?
Jones Soda beverages with natural and artificial flavors have a shelf life of two years from the manufacturer’s date. Jones Sodas with other natural flavors have a shelf life of one year from the manufacturer’s date.
Jones Soda uses different types of preservatives depending on the specific product and flavor. Some of the preservatives that Jones Soda may use in its products include potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and citric acid. These preservatives are used to help maintain the freshness and quality of the product, and they are commonly used in the food and beverage industry.
However, the company has also introduced some preservative-free options over the years such as the drinks from its Natural Jones Soda line, which are made with all-natural ingredients and don not contain any preservatives or artificial colors.