Revolution Tea — the name of the company says it all. In the late 1990s, after watching a rise in tea plarity at his wife’s tea room in Scottsdale, Larry DeAngelis recognized that the tea industry would soon experience a transformation, and he wanted to get involved prior to the “revolution.”
In 2001, he was joined by David Watson, who acquired majority ownership. Today, DeAngelis continues to serve as CEO, while Watson is chairman.
Watson is no stranger to making a company successful. He has dipped his hand in several industries, including real estate and cosmetics. In fact, he was president of BioMedic Clinical Care, which was sold to L’Oreal in 2001.
Watson says that when he joined Revolution Tea, he “saw what Starbucks did for coffee has happened (for tea at Revolution Tea).”
The company revolutionized the industry with its Infuser tea bag, which contains full-leaf teas and a carefully researched blend of natural fruits, herbs and spices. The special bag produces a fuller-bodied flavor due to its larger size and material. It now has 26 flavors to choose from; the five best-selling blends are Tropical Green, Sweet Ginger Peach, White Pear, English Breakfast and Earl Grey Lavender. They even have several organic flavors, including Organic Scottish Breakfast Tea and Organic White Chai Tea.
“The biggest challenge,” Watson says, “was educating the consumer they can have better packaged tea.”
They not only educated the consumer – they changed an industry. Today, more than three-dozen companies use the Infuser bag.
In May, the company continued making headway with the launch of Revolution 3D, which was introduced, Watson says, as a healthier alternative to soda and energy drinks. The canned beverage is a blend of fruit juice, multivitamins, and white tea, and is available in green apple, blueberry, mango and pomegranate. It is currently only available in Arizona and California, but it will be rolled out to the rest of the U.S. over the next 18 months.
The company has experienced rapid growth since 2002. In both 2005 and 2006, it grew 40 percent and its 40 employees work in a 37,000-square-foot warehouse in Phoenix. Watson is quick to give credit where credit is due, and says Revolution Tea would not be where it is today without all of its employees.
“Surround yourself with experts,” he recommends to other entrepreneurs. “Be humble to know what you’re not good at.”
The company also works out of contract warehouses in three other states that help distribute the products throughout the U.S. and to more than 40 countries worldwide. In addition, the products can be found in approximately 2,500 restaurants and 6,000 grocery stores. Every new product launched, however, is initially only offered in Arizona and California.
“Arizona historically has been a testing ground for new products and services,” Watson says. “It has a makeup of diverse constituencies. … If (a product) will work in Arizona, it will work anywhere.”