An Unimaginable Journey: How Pepsi Beat The Odds In Romania

Posted on May 11, 2010

0


In An Unimaginable Journey, Aviad Meitar explores how the unlikely opportunity to take over the Pepsi business in Romania came to fruition. Meitar had virtually no knowledge of either the beverage industry or Romania, yet he recognized the value of bringing a first-class brand to a newly emerging market. Full of astonishing you-are-there details, this book is a fascinating tour of the challenges that Meitar and his colleagues faced in taking on a well-funded competitor, the Coca-Cola organization. In the rapidly changing market environment of Romania, the cola wars were not only between Pepsi and Coke, but included a low-cost ‘B’ brand as well. Meitar provides a first-hand account of how a tenacious group of entrepreneurs navigated political, economic, management, and marketing highs and lows. His story culminates with the successful sale of the business to the second largest Pepsi bottler in the world, and the re-branding of his team to acquire the Pepsi business in Bulgaria.

from the book An Unimaginable Journey (How Pepsi Beat The Odds In Romania) by Aviad Meitar

When I was first contacted about doing an interview with Aviad Meitar I must admit that a number of thoughts raced through my mind.

To begin, and given that the setting for this compelling story was Romania, which became part of the former Soviet Union’s Eastern Bloc through coup d’états and the General Election of 1946 in which the Romanian Communist Party was soundly thumped by the rival Peasant Party, only to assume power by falsifying the results at the prompting of Moscow, this story had all the makings for a compelling, edge-of-your-seat thriller reminiscent of a cross between “All The President’s Men,” and Michael Mann’s “The Insider.”

Meitar, who emerges victorious where others such as Hermitage Capital Management’s William Felix Browder or Szeged Paprika and Meat Processing Plant’s John Berling Hardy fell to “corrupt bureaucrats and their businessmen accomplices,” is a compelling and memorable protagonist.

Joining me on the PI Window on Business on Friday, May 21st, 2010 at 12:30 PM EST is Aviad Meiter to share with you his “Unimaginable Journey” from inexperienced beverage industry entrepreneur to becoming a captain of industry through the sale of his venture to PepsiCo’s 2nd largest bottler worldwide.

Aviad Meitar

About Aviad:

I was born in 1959 and grew up in a small town called Kiryat Ono, in Israel. During my childhood years I studied in the local conservatory and played the French Horn in its concert band. This made music a very special part of my life and, although I chose a different profession, I’ve been actively playing with concert bands and symphonic orchestras all these years.

I received a law degree from Tel-Aviv University and an MBA from Boston University. Post my studies in Boston I moved to New York, where I lived for 8 years. I joined Quadrant Management, the management arm of a privately owned investment fund called North American resources, right after its formation. It was on this company’s behalf that I started going to Romania in early 1991 and set up the Pepsi business venture there.

During my years in New York I met my wife, Ravit, and our first two children, Yigal and Ayal, were born. Soon after the birth of our second child we moved back to Israel, so that I could be closer to the Romanian business. It needed more attention than I could give being on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We ultimately settled in my home town of Kiryat Ono. Our third son, Yiftach, was born soon after we moved there, and the three boys have been growing in the same wonderful environment I enjoyed in my youth.

I’ve been responsible for the beverage business in Romania throughout the 15 plus years of our group’s involvement there, taking it from inception, to growth and the ultimate sale of the business to PepsiCo’s 2nd largest bottler worldwide in mid 2006.

After the sale, our group decided to pursue another bottling venture in the region, and we acquired the Pepsi franchise in Bulgaria. I am currently the Chairman of the holding company of that operation and we are actively engaged in trying to make it another success story for the Pepsi brands.

Aviad’s Book:

In An Unimaginable Journey, Aviad Meitar explores how the unlikely opportunity to take over the Pepsi business in Romania came to fruition. Meitar had virtually no knowledge of either the beverage industry or Romania, yet he recognized the value of bringing a first-class brand to a newly emerging market. Full of astonishing you-are-there details, this book is a fascinating tour of the challenges that Meitar and his colleagues faced in taking on a well-funded competitor, the Coca-Cola organization. In the rapidly changing market environment of Romania, the cola wars were not only between Pepsi and Coke, but included a low-cost ‘B’ brand as well. Meitar provides a first-hand account of how a tenacious group of entrepreneurs navigated political, economic, management, and marketing highs and lows. His story culminates with the successful sale of the business to the second largest Pepsi bottler in the world, and the re-branding of his team to acquire the Pepsi business in Bulgaria.

Media Bites:

Remember to use the player below to access both the Live and On-Demand broadcast “An Unimaginable Journey: How Pepsi Beat The Odds In Romania” on Friday, May 21st, 2010 on the PI Window on Business on the Blog Talk Radio Network.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Segment Sponsor:

An Unimaginable Journey Forum

Be sure to visit the new An Unimaginable Journey Forum on Evan Carmichael, where you can share your thoughts on Aviad’s experiences and how it would influence or help you with your own incredible business journey.

30