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Rough and Tumbler: Changes Abound at Tervis Tumbler

Tervis Tumbler
Tervis Tumbler's new CEO, Barry Wolfson

Five years ago, Laura Spencer was named CEO of Tervis Tumbler, capping a nine-year climb from the company's accounting department. Under her leadership, the insulated-drinkware maker more than tripled revenue to around $75 million, increased its workforce to 425 full-timers and started work on a 35,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its north Venice factory.

But the growth wasn't enough for Spencer to keep her title. The private company's board of directors asked her to step down last December to make way for new CEO Barry Wolfson, a longtime Tervis consultant. The change, according to Tervis Chairman Norbert Donelly, "gives us the leadership talent we need to continue our strong success."

Initially, Spencer stayed on as CFO, saying she was fine with her demotion and understood why it happened. In January, she told Florida Trend: "As we've grown and gotten bigger and bigger, you need more firepower at the top of the company. My background is finance, and we really felt that I could bring more value heading up the financial side but remain on the executive team."

By May, she was out as CFO and gone from Tervis. "Four or five months down the road, our perspective on things changed," Wolfson says.

Wolfson, a one-time chemical company CEO who spent the last 15 years consulting with companies seeking fast growth, says the executive shakeup shouldn't overshadow Tervis' "tremendous growth potential." His focus, he says, is building the brand's awareness beyond the Southeast. Tervis' double-walled insulated tumblers can be made with any sort of logo or image and have been particularly popular among Southeastern Conference football fans. In 2008, the company signed a licensing agreement with the National Football League, which drastically boosted sales. In 2009, it added Major League Baseball. Last year, the company signed contracts with Disney and Marvel Entertainment. Wolfson says more licensing agreements will be announced this year.