Mike on America

CherryPharm: A Passion For Making Natural Cherry Juice


How many company founders have you seen 'shrink wrapping' product on the factory floor? Or, CEO's trying to help get the production line operating?

We saw them both at CherryPharm inGeneva New York. It's a three year old company with a small production facility that makes one thing--cherry juice. But this is not your supermarket cherry juice. Or even your health food store concentrate. This is 100 per cent pure juice, from the cherry into the bottle, with all the nutrients attached.

John Davey, the Founder and President, and Chris Shoemaker, the CEO, will tell you it's a 'revolutionary' process that makes it possible. But they're not going to tell you what the process is, except to say it helps the juice retain maximum 'Phyto-Nutrients'.

What they will tell you is that all you've heard about the healing powers of cherries is true. It's an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. It's been called the 'healing fruit' for decades. Some arthritis sufferers have sworn by it for years, some athletes have claimed it's helped them 'recover' from injuries more quickly. But it's never really been proven.

Now there are clinical studies to back up the claims, and to back up what Davey and Shoemaker know, their product does it better.

Debate the powers of cherries all you want, but what's not open to debate is the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive in both of these guys. Davey, a former pro tennis player, and Executive Director of UBS A.G., left all that behind to start CherryPharm. He talked Shoemaker, a partner at Rhone Group LLC (a private equity firm) into joining him. It's a long way from Wall Street to Geneva New York.

What fuels them is passion, an honest belief in their product and a vision of what it can mean in the market place. What's the market, in a baby boomer dominated society, for a juice that actually helps arthritis? What's the market for a juice that actually helps with skin inflammation? What's the market for sports exertion recovery?

That's they way Davey came to this idea by the way. On vacation in his native Michigan during cherry season, he started eating cherries by the hand full. His back, he's a handball and racquetball player, had hurt him for years. He ate the cherries. It stopped hurting. The 'aha' moment for Davey and the beginning of CherryPharm. With one University of Vermont study done, and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and others underway at various universities, Davey developed CherryPharm in conjunction with Cornell.

Available now only through the internet, Davey and Shoemaker are busy getting the 'story' out. The New York Rangers are using it, as are other professional sports teams. So are a number of college football teams this fall.

But perhaps the most fascinating part of the whole story is watching Davey and Shoemaker work at the plant. Both were very successful 'money guys'. Billions of dollars under management. And yet both are happier here, developing this little cherry juice company, than they have been in years. Davey puts it this way,' I have two kids. I can bring them here, they know and understand what I do. They had no idea what I did before. This makes me feel great.'

'Shrink wrapping' the American Dream. Now, I'm off to Jiminy Peak, Massachusetts and the only private ski area in North America with its own wind turbine.

See you along the road.

Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com