Cover Story by CIO VIEWS
It’s not easy to catch up to Alan Miller, Founder and CEO of Blue Marble. If he isn’t running 200 miles per hour at the helm at Blue Marble, you probably might catch a glimpse of him doing exactly that on a racetrack somewhere in the world.
Success is simple to him. It’s about setting a goal and achieving them. He states, “There are so many goals I set when I start a company. The first is the exit strategy. I know it sounds crazy, but I treat it like every race I start. Am I looking to win, set the fastest lap, or just finish in the top 3. Is this going to be an IPO, acquisition, or lifestyle business? Without this goal and destination setting, I could never achieve or arrive at my goal. Success is never about money. It is a loss leader and, in the end, not very satisfying.”
Success is a happy, fulfilled life with family, friends and creating a business that makes the world a better place.
Journey to success
At the age of 51, Alan decided to start a business in a field that was uncharted territory for him. For the last 30 years, he has been involved in the health care sector.
He has been an EMT, salesman, marketing manager, designer, engineer, entrepreneur, and for over a decade designed surgical lasers for dentistry that can be found in over 100 countries.
So, risking everything and pivoting towards a different direction was a thrilling challenge for Alan. He adds, “I love a good challenge. Blue Marble was born out of my frustration with the pre-mixed cocktail market. I wanted a “healthier,” better-tasting cocktail that anyone could enjoy straight out of the can. Honestly, it was ahead of its time. Like many companies, it started with an opportunity to fill a void in the market.”
Alan started the Blue Marble with her then-girlfriend and now fiancé, Danyelle Rabine. Together, they have built not only a great company but a relationship filled with love and respect.
Knocking the juggernauts out of the park
Alan feels grateful for his rainy days as they came as blessings in his life. His first roadblock was trying to convince a co-packer to make their drinks for them.
He was thrown out and ridiculed across America, and ultimately he took matters into his own hands and decided to build his own factory.
He mentions, “All the engineering firms laughed when I said I needed a production line up and running in 90 days. You can’t imagine the learning curve I had to go through, but that’s exactly what I did. I told myself if I can design the world’s most successful surgical laser on a napkin, I can build a canning production line.”
Today, they are one of the largest and most premier co-packers in the US, operating out of a state-of-the-art 425,000 square foot facility in Indianapolis.
Alan states, “. Without all the “no’s” we wouldn’t be where we are today. Our clients are some of the largest companies in the world. To say the least, nothing scares me. Challenges are simply that, a challenge; you can step up and shine or crumble; it’s a choice. I am grateful to Danyelle for helping me through some rough days with the business. That old saying behind every successful man there is a great woman, well that’s her.”
Overview of Blue Marble
Alan mentions they have two sides to the business, namely, Blue Marble Productions, Inc. & Blue Marble Cocktails, Inc.
Blue Marble Productions, Inc. is a world-class developer, processor, and co-packer of private label and branded alcohol and non-alcohol-based products for the canned beverage industry. Blue Marble is well positioned within the industry with spirit, sugar brew, and vintners permits. The 425,000 square foot, state-of-the-art factory is centrally located in Indianapolis and offers multiple in-house services, including formulary development, nitrogen, and carbonation dosing, label sleeving, 3PL, laboratory services, and a full-service supply chain including aluminum cans, lids, labels, ingredients, and packaging.
Blue Marble Cocktails, Inc., is comprised of the best ultra-premium vodka-based seltzers, spirits, and ready-to-drink cocktails you can find on the planet.
He states, “Blue Marble Cocktails, Inc.’s line of ultra-premium ready-to-drink cocktails (RTDs), vodka-based seltzers, and spirits, have won unprecedented amounts of gold medal awards, including the highly coveted “World’s Best Pre-Mixed Cocktail.”
The entire line of Blue Marble beverages is all-natural and free of any dyes or artificial ingredients and can be found in many of the nation’s premier locations.
He expresses, “Our core value is simple – do it better – make the planet better (our Blue Marble).” Blue Marble supports global awareness and environmental initiatives through their own commitment to sustainable packaging, donations, and their “keep the blue marble blue” conservation program.
Bringing innovative and out-of-the-box ideas to redefine the methods of the beverage industry
Alan states, “The best thing about being in this industry was not BEING from the industry. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told the common phrase “well that’s how we have always done it,” it is a phrase I could care less about. I got to start with a clean sheet of paper and do it the right way with tons of innovation.”
For example, when every other co-packer was marking (encoding) the bottom of their cans or packaging with inkjet printers (which the ink can be considered a hazardous material), he decided to tackle it in a better way by using Domino’s new 70-watt fiber laser. It was better for the employees and the environment.
Alan’s vision is to make a difference and pave the company to the top. He expresses, “I didn’t come to play. I came to win. Influence comes from the top down.
You can find me on the couch in my office taking a short nap after multiple back-to-back 20-hour days, on a forklift, with a broom in my hand, or meeting with clients globally.”
Blue Marble is more than meets the eye. Their influence and goals to global change are an inherent part of their business and culture. Before they started earning fatty paychecks, they started the “keep the blue marble blue” program focused on not only supporting charities that keep the oceans clean but also through using sustainable packaging in their factory.
Alan adds, “I am happy to say we have influenced some of the biggest companies in the world that we co-pack to change their packaging because it is better for the environment.”
Every day, the team looks for innovative ideas to create better results. They have redefined the beverage industry not only with our full-service factory but also with our products and services. Everything is 100% all-natural. They refuse to use cheap ingredients, dyes, or anything artificial.
Alan feels fortunate to have a solid team that resonates with the vision of the company and is striving to create a positive impact. He adds, “Our president is nothing short of superhuman in operations and executes our growth strategies.
Our CFO is not only one of the nicest persons you would ever meet but one of the smartest I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Several of our team members have remained with me for decades through multiple companies, and I am so grateful that they continue to trust me with their family’s futures. I am grateful to be surrounded by much smarter and talented individuals that together make Blue Marble an unstoppable force within the industry.”
Tackling COVID-19 with smart strategies
Just before the pandemic hit, Alan decided to pivot the company into investing heavily into growing their co-packing side of the business. It was a unanimous vote with the BOD, and the timing could not have been any better. He signed a long-term lease on their new facility and put deposits on new production lines.
As everyone else put themselves into a “pause” mode, they moved forward in lighting speed. Alan states, “We were growing from 32,000 square feet to 181,000 square feet and now 425,000 square feet. You can’t imagine what a risk this was, one that has paid off in spades. We navigated COVID-19 with extremely strict policies and screening guidelines, along with compassion and understanding for our team members, vendors, equipment suppliers, and contractors.”
Surprisingly their business grew last year by over 800%, and they have already more than doubled revenues from last year. With even more expansion in the works, they are projecting 2022 revenues at 250 million+.
Driving innovation to achieve the vision
To stay on top in the beverage industry, Alan believes that innovation is the key to unlocking the company’s success path. Complacency is considered to cause the death of the company.
He states, “I don’t look at staying abreast with my competition. I look at out-hustling them every day and earning the privilege to work with our clients.”
He tries to pump innovation not just in technology but also in culture. Implementing a Yes culture, he is sure that they will be able to achieve anything.
He adds, “I always say: Yes, we can do it better, yes, we will be number 1, yes to whatever team members need, and yes to our clients. In a world full of no’s, Blue Marble stands a YES.”
Balancing Professional and Private Fronts
As the CEO & Planetary Ambassador of Blue Marble Cocktails, Inc., Alan has multiple hats to wear. His roles include setting the company’s vision and goals and inspiring others to complete their work.
His regular day starts early at around 3-4 am, where he commences his day with self-care, in which he takes his morning coffee, performs stretching, yoga and meditation. He believes that ditching the phone at this time and prioritizing self-care is crucial to kickstart the day in the best way.
Emphasizing his point, he shares, “It sets my frame of mind to step up to any challenge the day may bring. It gives me time to get the daily emails and responses done with the rest of the day’s focus on giving my best.”
Talking about his biggest recognition, he says, “I think it’s a tie between winning World’s Best Ready-to-Drink Cocktail with our Bloody Mary and being chosen by Disney World resorts and cruise lines to be sold to their patrons.”
Leading life with the motto of “Work to live, not live to work,” he is a passionate CEO who handles all the business operations. He enjoys going to the factory and watching other employees striving hard and creating the world’s best beverages.
Owing to his consistent efforts, his products are available globally in 100+ countries, and he holds a myriad of patents for them. Moreover, he works as the co-founder of the “keep the blue marble blue” foundation too.
He loves spending a great day with clients or team members at the factory. However, he finds equivalent happiness in winning on a racetrack or hanging out with his family and friends. He is a proud father of 3 sons and is engaged to Danyelle Rabine, Co-Founder & EVP. He is truly grateful for his supportive family, friends, health, and life and is blessed enough to be enjoying life to the fullest.
Being a multi-national racing champion, he is able to lessen the stress of corporate life and keeps him competitive.
He is also a philanthropist who opines giving back to society through his efforts. He further says, “I tend to surround myself in my personal life and at my businesses with self-motivated winners, but I am the first to say anyone can do what I do. It just takes a goal, hard work, and lots of faith that it will happen.”
Living in Pahrump, NV, he is traveling for both pleasure and business. Besides that, he is a water sports enthusiast who focuses on kitesurfing, windsurfing, and foil boarding. He can also be seen on Bravos’ TV series Below Deck on a routine basis.
Alan focuses on scaling the size, revenues, talent, innovation, and services of the company. He is planning to expand into another facility on the west coast. They are also adding new beverages into their cocktail line. His personal goals are pretty simple, which is to be better every day.
Sharing the message for the aspiring business leaders, he states, “It is ok to fail, just learn from it, get stronger and kick ass. You don’t need looks, a million followers, education, a good upbringing, or anything except for determination. Run from anyone who doesn’t push you up and support your vision or goal. The world is whatever you want to make it tomorrow morning when you wake up, so check your attitude and make the world a better place with your influence.”