Case Mason, a leading East Coast contract packaging company, has been contracted by Life Support, a hangover remedy company operated by Cheryl and Jim Krueger of Cheryl’s Cookies fame. Originally founded in 2012 by three Ohio State college students, brother-sister team Cheryl and Jim invested in the Life Support brand several years after the successful launch and eventual sale of Cheryl’s Cookies to 1-800-Flowers.
Life Support is an all-natural beverage derived from a Japanese raisin tree fruit extract called Hovenia Dulcis. A flavonoid component of the Japanese raisin tree fruit called Dihydromyricetin (DHM) has demonstrated properties that break down alcohol in a highly efficient manner. In a recent UCLA study, DHM was conclusively found to counteract alcohol intoxication and related withdrawal symptoms. Products containing DHM are especially popular in Asian countries, both as a hangover remedy, and as a general supplement in support of liver health. It was on a trip to South Korea that the three founding college students discovered the product, and devised a plan to introduce an anti-hangover drink in the U.S.
While originally packaged in glass, Life Support is now marketed in a 3.4 ounce recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle, featuring a 38mm opening and a tamper-evident custom cap. The non-carbonated, caffeine-free beverage has a taste and consistency similar to apple juice, and can be consumed chilled or at room temperature. The primary target market is made up of young working professionals who need to be at their best at work the next day. With a mission to “create a hangover relief product that actually works,” Life Support is well on its way, with product available in over 500 retail locations, and growing. First introduced in the Columbus, Ohio market, the brand is rapidly expanding throughout Ohio, with plans to enter the West Virginia market in the very near future.
Life Support initially set up an internal bottling operation, but as order sizes increased, Jim and Cheryl realized the time was right to seek an outside packaging partner, one who would be willing to start small and grow with them. “We talked to 30 contract packagers,” recalls Jim Krueger, director of operations. “After some initial discussions, they all essentially said the same thing: Call us when you get to 1 million units. Case Mason was different. They were a willing partner from our very first conversation. We were immediately impressed by their comprehensive expertise, quality standards and their overall operation.”
As the Life Support brand transitioned from glass to plastic bottles, so did the packaging operation. Life Support shipped its existing bottling line to Case Mason, who incorporated segments into its own operation. Case Mason and Life Support teams worked in close collaboration and initial production runs began shipping out of the Case Mason facility in June of this year.
Jim Krueger notes close collaboration as the key to a successful contract packager relationship. “We worked virtually side-by-side with the Case Mason team from the very beginning,” he remarks. “This is critical, especially when challenges come up. For instance, when we had a delay in the production of our new cap for the new plastic bottle, Case Mason developed an effective short-term solution, sourcing a temporary stock cap with a tamper-evident seal.”
Krueger continues, “With Cheryl’s Cookies, we were vertically integrated, controlling virtually everything from ingredients to end customer. Conversely, with Life Support our strategy involves a more highly concentrated effort on sales and marketing. As a result, the strength of our relationships with supply chain partners like Case Mason is critical to our success.”
With a proven track record for supporting emerging brands as it scales, Case Mason readily works with startups such as Life Support, where initial production runs may be 10,000-20,000 units. In addition to bottling and packaging, Case Mason is currently receiving and managing inventory, providing lab testing, quality control, batch sampling and shipping of finished product to Ohio for distribution.
“Knowing the history of Cheryl’s Cookies, we have confidence in both the Life Support product and the people behind it,” comments Scott Miller, chief growth officer of Case Mason. “They are doing all the right things to facilitate smart growth, and we gladly support them.” Miller continues, “We view ourselves as the bridge for brands that need assistance at this critical juncture: just beyond initial start-up, and before mass production, typically the million units mark.” For Case Mason, willingness to provide hands-on service and support of an emerging brand is paying off; Life Support is forecasting aggressive growth for 2016.