About Paul Block

In January 2016, Paul Block was recruited by Kohlberg & Company to act as CEO of SVP Worldwide.  He was hired to improve short-term operating performance, develop a long‑term competitive plan, and establish a foundation for turning the Company’s performance around. Kohlberg and Block set a 2-year horizon for completing this brief. Under Block’s guidance, operating income increased, the Company achieved meaningful working capital and cost improvements, and the Board approved a new 3‑year plan providing for accelerated growth.With the short-term objectives and creative challenges complete, Block has laid a firm foundation for moving the Company’s people, processes, products, and plans forward into the future.

Prior to SVP Worldwide, Mr. Block was President and CEO of Merisant Company for ten years. The $300M global business had 425 employees, two dedicated manufacturing facilities in USA and Czech Republic and operations in more than 80 countries. After one year as CEO, he was named chairman of the board and remained in that position until 2010 when the company emerged from a successful balance sheet restructuring and change of ownership. In June 2010, he received the prestigious Atlas Turnaround Corporate Executive of the Year Award for his leadership in the successful restructuring and turnaround of Merisant Company. With new shareholders post restructuring, the team grew EBITDA 20% and paid down all remaining debt. In 2014, the company sold for 6.7X 2013 EBITDA.

Prior to Merisant Company, Mr. Block’s first Chief Executive role was with Sara Lee Retail Coffee & Tea USA were he and his team increased company profit 116% in the first Year. The Retail Coffee & Tea division, in addition to being recognized as one of the fastest turnarounds in the corporation, was also one of the few divisions with Sara Lee Corporation achieving double-digit revenue growth.

Externally, Advertising Age named Mr. Block as one of the top marketers in the USA and Brandweek named him as a “Marketer of the Year.” Internally, Guinness Import Company named him “Marketing Manager of the Year” and Groupe DANONE awarded him the Chairman’s award for innovation. In addition, the UJA Federation honored Mr. Block with the Edgar Bronfman award for his outstanding leadership in the Wine & Spirits Industry.

Mr. Block has more than 30 years of experience in the consumer goods industry with a unique leadership style. He approaches situations with both a deep analytical and a broad creative perspective, which few CEOs do consistently and simultaneously. In addition to transformation, innovation, strategic architecture and performance acceleration, Mr. Block demonstrates exceptional competency in product differentiation, lean operating methodology, and financial management. The result: a strong cross-functional team leader able to build shareholder value by changing paradigms and initiating sustainable, strategic growth.

 

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Résumé

Merisant Company

President, CEO and Chairman of the board · 2004-2014

Paul R. Block was recruited by the private equity firm, Pegasus Capital Advisors, LLC, to turn around the $350 million dollar company and accelerate the transformation to a best practice consumer packaged-goods enterprise. The highly leveraged company was experiencing severe historical declines in sales and profit in excess of 30 percent. Aspartame, the core product for the Equal and Canderel brands, was under attack. Competition was strong and commoditization was increasing at a rapid pace. The business lacked clear strategic direction, efficient supply-chain management and proper controls. Among Paul Block’s acccomplishments at Merisant, he:

  • Created a lean global operating model that reduced the professional staff by 40 percent and streamlined the global operating model by reducing 10 entities around the world
  • Increased efficiency and reduced costs in excess of $35 million over three years – improved working capital by $14 million and increased liquidity by $45 million
  • Became 404 compliant with no control issues within two years
  • Paid employees an incentive pool of $9 million in 2006/07; none was paid in 2004/05
  • Employed a world-class S&OP process to improve sales and production planning
  • Stabilized the declining Aspartame business through strategic and tactical brand action plans
  • Grew the Equal brand business at Wal-Mart by 20 percent in 2009 and a total turnaround of Equal USA retail in 2010
  • Added two manufacturing facilities – CzechPak in Teplice and Nativia Guarani in Asuncion
  • Launched new innovative sweetener, Pure Via™, and created brand ownership with PepsiCo
  • Reduced debt to $142 million from $567 million and interest expense to $11 million from $36 million
  • Emerged with $30 million in liquidity and projected free cash flow of $20+ million in year one
  • Maintained base business EBITDA in $60-$70 million range from 2005 to 2010
  • Changed industry context with global launch of Equal/Canderel “Rainbow” in food service USA

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SARA LEE CORPORATION

PRESIDENT AND CEO RETAIL COFFEE · 2002 to 2004

Recruited by Korn Ferry International and Sara Lee to stabilize the $350 million retail coffee company that had deteriorated to an $18 million profit loss. The retail coffee company had a team of 400 employees and a state-of-the-art coffee manufacturing facility in Newport, Va. The company culture and leadership style was “command and control,” unfocused and bureaucratic. While serving as President and CEO for Retail Coffee at Sara Lee, Paul Block:

  • Immediately changed the leadership and culture to a team-oriented, incentive- based performance-driven environment and re-engineered the order to cash process
  • Returned the company to $3 million profit gain from an $18 million loss
  • Launched new innovative Senseo single-serve coffee machine and pods with Philips Electronics
  • Reduced open deductions from 15 percent of net sales to 1 percent within six months. Achieved 14 percent reduction in SG&A costs by aligning functions and streamlining process

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ALLIED DOMECQ PLC

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, GENERAL MANAGER USA · 2000 to 2002

After achieving one of the highest ratings on an internal Allied Domecq Egon Zender 360 evaluation, and successfully transforming brands in North America, the Allied Domecq Board promoted Paul Block from CMO North America to General Manager of the $750 million dollar USA business including a team of 200 in sales, marketing, finance, logistics and operations. In his role at Allied Domecq PLC, Paul Block:

  • Generated consistent positive EBITDA growth in a stagnant category; +9 percent growth on $250 million profit for his two years as GM
  • Acquired Stolichnaya Vodka and assimilated into the USA portfolio of spirit brands.
  • Engaged distributor partners, gained investment commitment and enhanced share of mind and sales execution by orchestrating a traveling road show to introduce new products and new marketing plans.

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER · 1999 to 2000

Paul Block was initially recruited to reinvigorate dusty spirit brands in the premium brand portfolio and increase ROI with less strategic “tail brands.” As the lead marketing executive, Paul spearheaded strategy, brand development and marketing initiatives for a $1 billion North American division with a team of 46 professionals and a budget of $135 million. As CMO, Paul Block:

  • Catapulted Courvoisier brand to 10 percent growth from a 5 percent decline through an innovative marketing approach to key influencers.
  • Developed a proprietary spirits brand-equity model and scorecard to assess critical leading indicators as well as measure success. The model was employed on a global scale.
  • Repositioned and repackaged Beefeater, Canadian Club and Sauza Tequila, which contemporized the brands and invigorated sales growth.. In his role at Allied Domecq PLC, Paul Block:

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GROUP DANONE

VICE PRESIDENT GENERAL MANAGER, DANNON WATER USA · 1996 to 1999

After the successful creation of Dannon Water, the CEO promoted Paul Block to General Manager of the Dannon Water business unit, overseeing a team of 45 sales and marketing professionals and a $50 million operating budget. Paul leveraged the strength and passion of each team member to develop rapidly an organizational infrastructure and launch an international brand subsequently copied by industry competitors. Among his accomplishments in this position, Paul Block:

  • Attained the No. 11 national IRI supermarket market share and generated $40 million in revenue within the first year of Dannon Water’s rollout
  • Was amed “Marketer of the Year” by Brand Week and ranked in the top “Marketing 100” professionals by Advertising Age publications
  • Recognized with the highest “Chairman’s Innovation Award” for spearheading the development and rollout of Dannon Water

VICE PRESIDENT MARKETING, EVIAN WATER USA · 1993 to 1996

Paul Block was recruited by Groupe Danone to be the lead marketing executive in North America to manage the growth and development of Evian Natural Spring Water and launch new imported food products from the Groupe in Paris. While working with Evian, Paul Block:

  • Propelled Evian sales revenue to $180 million from $110 million while maintaining a 15 percent operating profit to net sales ratio
  • Achieved a $5 million increase in Evian’s bottom-line within one year
  • Established successful events and merchandising around U.S. tennis, volleyball and epicurean events

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GUINNESS / UDV PLC

VICE PRESIDENT MARKETING, IMPORT BEER USA · 1989 to 1993

Initially recruited as Marketing Director and quickly promoted to VP Marketing, Paul Block led a team of 17 marketing professionals charged with reinvigorating the portfolio of brands. He immediately achieved a 15 percent increase in Bass Ale sales and was recognized by Guinness as “Marketing Manager of the Year.” The team won the prestigious EFFIE award for the creation of a results-producing Bass Ale print advertisement. While at Guinness, Paul Block:

  • Drove company’s annual revenues 46%, to $220 million from $150 million
  • Achieved a 20 percent growth in sales by repositioning Guinness Stout, Bass Ale, and Dos Equis toward other consumer groups
  • Turned around Moosehead’s eight-year record of declining sales to attain positive growth
  • Recognized for breakthrough thinking and innovative leadership style and was recruited by CEO to take on vital role creating a cultural transformation within the company

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MILLER BREWING COMPANY

EARLY EXPERIENCE

Manager New Products

  • Chairman of the Miller Innovation Committee
  • Launched Miller Sharps, which remains on shelf today

Assistant Brand Manager – Wine Coolers

  • Created and launched Matilda Bay Wine Cooler
  • Produced TV advertising and innovative sales promotion.

Manager Lite Beer Celebrities

  • Managed 45 Lite Beer celebrities
  • Organized contracts, commercial engagements, promotions and events

Manager African American Event Marketing

  • Created the Miller Sound Express – two tractor trailers that brought concerts to cities
  • Established Lite Beer Boxing Series with Don King and HBO

Area Sales Manager – Southern New Jersey

  • Accountable for management of three distributors and sales in southern New Jersey
  • Motivated distributors to participate in corporate merchandising and advertising co-op

Young Adult Marketing National Coordinator

  • Created the Miller Brewing Company music-sponsorship programs
  • Developed and launched Lite Beer Pro Beach Volleyball, which ran for 20 years

College Marketing National Coordinator

  • Provided leadership for four college coordinators in 13 states
  • Managed all spring break promotions

College Marketing Regional Coordinator

  • Managed college promotions in three states and on 40 college campuses
  • Established the biggest events with the largest distributor support in the country

EDUCATION

KENT STATE UNIVERSITY, KENT OHIO

Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies

  • Dean’s List, Vice President of the Inter-fraternity Council
  • President of SAE Fraternity, SAE leadership school, SAE National Convention delegate

CORPORATE LEADERSHIP

  • Micro Pack Corporation/Clear Source, Inc. – Natick, MA, Chairman of the Board: 2000 – 2004; Board Director: 1999 – 2007
  • Grocery Manufacturers Association – Washington, D.C., President’s Council: 2006 – 2007
  • Inc. CEO Project – 2010 to present

EXECUTIVE EDUCATION

Kellogg Graduate School of Management

  • Advanced Executive Program for General Management – one-month, on-campus program

One-week Executive Programs

  • Yale School of Organization & Management: Leadership and Decision-Making
  • Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education: Strategy, Marketing & Finance
  • University of Chicago Executive Education: Product Management, Analysis & Decision-Making

MEDIA

Numerous features in national and local media publications, including:

  • Crain’s Chicago Business
  • The New York Times
  • Advertising Age
  • Brandweek
  • Beverage Media
  • Market Watch
  • Beverage Industry
  • Forbes radio program
  • The CEO Show

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Awards & Achievements

AWARDS

  • M&A Atlas Awards: Corporate Executive of the Year Award – 2010
  • M&A Atlas Awards: Corporate Turnaround of the Year Award – 2010
  • Group Danone: Chairman’s Innovation Award
  • Marketer of the Year by Brandweek magazine
  • Top 100 Marketers: Advertising Age publications
  • Guinness Import Company Marketer of the Year

ACHIEVEMENTS

    • Engineered a unique partnership with PepsiCo to co-own and co-market Pure Via™ worldwide; alliance represents collaborative R&D and joint positioning. Merisant and Pepsi together established the trade dress and logo

Led his management team and food scientists to secure first-in-world approval by the FDA for Pure Via’s new, all natural, zero-calorie sugar substitute, Reb A

  • Acquired Nativia Guarani, S.A., a manufacturing facility in Paraguay to process and blend Reb A; created a joint venture with a local company — Nativia Imperio, S.A. — to integrate agriculture and milling of the stevia plant. Also, built CzechPak, a manufacturing facility in the Czech Republic that produces for Merisant in Europe, the Middle East and Africa
  • Pioneered Dannon Water as a new product and a new market category, attaining No. 1 national market share for IRI supermarkets; generated $40 million in revenue within first year of rollout
  • Launched one of the largest innovations in coffee with the creation of the Senseo single-serve coffee machine and refill packets
  • Reversed declining sales for Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee in the northeast with new packaging, advertising and promotion that generated greater consumer awareness
  • Developed a savvy marketing campaign for Courvoisier Spirits that propelled the brand from -20 percent in net sales to +15 percent in one year
  • Established the Lite Beer Boxing Series with Don King and HBO; managed 45 Lite Beer celebrities
  • Re-energized other legendary, flagship brands, e.g., Evian Water; Guinness Stout, Bass Ale and Dos Equis; Canadian Club, Beefeater and Sauza Tequila, turning around sales, profits and financial stability for all companies involved