Oh dear. Keurig Green Mountain, our hometown manufacturer of environmentally wasteful consumer products, is cutting back. About a hundred workers will lose their jobs in Vermont following a decision I’ve been predicting from the very start.
KGM is killing Keurig Kold, its overpriced, slow, inconvenient carbonated-beverage delivery system. The layoffs are directly related to that business decision — although any minute now, I expect a press release from Phil Scott blaming the Shumlin administration. Because that’s Leadership!
Among the Keurig Kold’s many problems:
— an initial list price of nearly $400
— beverage pods that cost a buck twenty-five apiece — and make EIGHT OUNCES of soda.
— Producing an eight-ounce serving takes a minimum of 90 seconds.
— The machine itself is bulky — larger in all dimensions than any Keurig coffeemaker. It weighs 23 pounds. Takes up a lot of counter space.
— The water chamber needs to be pre-chilled to 39 degrees, which takes at least two hours. You’d have to preplan your soda breaks, or burn electricity to keep the thing running all the time.
Raise a glass, boys, to Janet Ancel, hardworking chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. For it was she who ignored the express wishes of the Shumlin administration and added some oversight to a program that sorely needs it.
I’m talking Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI), the slush fund economic development program that gives public funds to private employers promising to grow their workforce. VEGI was up for renewal this year, and the administration wanted a permanent extension (or at least five years) with no strings attached.
What it got instead, thanks largely to Rep. Ancel, was a three-year extension with legislative oversight added. She also inserted a mandated “cost-benefit analysis” to determine whether VEGI is actually accomplishing what it’s supposed to. And yesterday, the full House approved an omnibus economic-development bill including her VEGI provisions. A noteworthy accomplishment, given the administration’s active resistance.
That didn’t take long. Keurig Green Mountain, the artist formerly known as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, was sold to a private equity firm in late December; now, the company’s CEO has been kicked out of the way.
Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. in Waterbury has hired a new chief executive officer, promoting current CEO Brian Kelley to vice chairman of the board.
That’s a hell of a promotion. Kind of like being promoted from Governor to Lieutenant Governor.
And Kelley’s replacement?
Bob Gamgort, currently CEO of Pinnacle Foods Inc. in Parsippany, New Jersey, will take over leadership of Keurig on May 2. Pinnacle owns a number of well-known brands, including Duncan Hines, Vlasic, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Log Cabin, Armour and Birds Eye.
Here’s an interesting tidbit from across the pond. Citing environmental concerns, the city of Hamburg, Germany has banned Keurig-style coffee pods from all government office buildings.
Lest you think, “Oh, isn’t that cute?” bear in mind that Hamburg has a population of 1.7 million people. It’s the second biggest city in Germany, and the eighth largest in the European Union.
As part of a guide to green procurement, the German city of Hamburg last month introduced a ban on buying “certain polluting products or product components” with council money. The ban includes specific terms for “equipment for hot drinks in which portion packaging is used” – specifically singling out the “Kaffeekapselmaschine”, or coffee capsule machine, which accounts for one in eight coffees sold in Germany.
“These portion packs cause unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation, and often contain polluting aluminum,” the report says.
This isn’t a Big Deal, not yet; but it is a Deal, and it ought to be causing a bit of concern at Keurig Green Mountain’s Waterbury headquarters. Because if Hamburg becomes a trendsetter, Keurig could start seeing large markets snap shut.
A very strange half-page advertisement graced page 3 of Your Monday Times Argus. It was a solicitation for inside information on the operations of Keurig Green Mountain and/or its would-be purchaser, JAB Holding Company. And, oddly, it was littered with typos and lousy grammar.
The ad was placed by something called ACTION Group, whose name is too generic to yield anything useful via Google search. At the top of the ad, ACTION Group claims to consist of “Americans Concerned To Improve Our Nation.”
Two people are named in the ad: William T. Juliano and Deborah Dickinson. You might expect them to be ambulance-chasing lawyers, but no — Juliano is a real estate developer and financier based in New Jersey and Boca Raton, Florida, and Dickinson is a longtime employee in his various enterprises.
The ad claims that ACTION Group is “very concerned” with the announced sale of KGM to JAB, described as “a huge German conglomerate whose intentions are to dominate the global coffee industry.”
You know, like the Third Reich only caffeinated. Hm, that doesn’t sound good.
Keurig Green Mountain, the local startup made good and then assimilated by Coca-Cola, has formally unveiled its new Keurig Kold system online. To me, it still looks like an Edsel in the making. What’s worse, the troubled company is clearly betting the farm on this overpriced gizmo.
The cost alone is a deal-breaker. Add to that the machine’s clunky performance, and you have a product fated for the dustbin of history.
Cost? The list price of a KK is $369 — by far the most expensive of any Keurig device. But that’s just the entry fee. Your $369 buys you the opportunity to make little tiny eight-ounce servings of cold beverages at a per-cup cost of more than a dollar.
And each serving takes more than a minute to produce.
Which begs the question: why in hell would anyone buy this piece of junk?
Hey, working folks, hope you enjoyed Labor Day. Yep, you got your one day; the other 364 belong to the employers.
We’ve got two examples of capitalism at work in Vermont: another shifty move from the formerly conscience-ridden Keurig Green Mountain, and a T-shirt factory meets its inevitable demise.
First up, from the Reuters news service:
When Keurig Green Mountain Inc said last December it was shifting its coffee buying operation to Lausanne in Switzerland from its headquarters in Waterbury, Vermont, it said the move would establish the company as a “global beverage player.”
The seller of brewing machines and single-serve coffee pods said nothing about a little-known exemption in the U.S. tax code…
Ah yes, the tax code: refuge of capitalist scoundrels.