National drinkware leader Tervis, one of the largest and most established manufacturers in Sarasota County, has named its former top financial executive, Hosana Fieber, its new CEO.
Rogan Donelly, who has been president since 2016, CEO since 2021 and is the son of longtime Tervis leader Norbert Donelly, is moving into an executive chairman of the board position. The CEO change comes as officials with the 200-employee company, based in Venice, say the business is debt-free and about to embark on a new growth strategy.
Fieber and Donelly, in an interview with the Business Observer, say they plan to work closely together as the former handles day-to-day and the latter leads the bigger picture visionary efforts for the company.
Donelly, 38, emphasizes Tervis will remain family-owned; four people on the seven-member board are Donelly family members, according to a statement. The company was founded in 1946, when Detroit engineers Frank Cotter and G. Howlett Davis created the double-walled insulated tumbler that became the company’s core product for decades. They named the company Tervis after the last three letters of their names. Donelly's grandfather, Casey Key entrepreneur John Winslow, bought the company in the 1950s and moved it from Michigan to Venice. Winslow died in 1989 and his son-in-law, onetime Wall Street banker Norbert Donelly, Rogan Donelly’s father, took over the business.
“Tervis is at a tipping point,” says Donelly, a Business Observer 40 Under 40 winner in 2016. “There’s been a lot of changes in the marketplace, and she’s the right person for the company at this moment. We’re excited for this next chapter.”
From a marketplace standpoint one big change is the boom in ecommerce sales during and since the pandemic. In addition, new competitors such as Stanley, are jostling for market share. Stanley in particular has received a boost from some viral TikTok videos and memes.
Internally, there have been several changes at Tervis in recent years. A big one was in 2017, when it introduced stainless steel to complement its various lines of popular, permanently sealed, insulated double-wall cups that the company has long marketed “keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.”
More big changes: in 2021, Tervis opened a light-manufacturing and fulfillment facility in North Port, south Sarasota County, while it switched to third-party contract manufacturing in its Venice headquarters. (Many former Tervis employees joined the contract manufacturer, Fieber says.) In the pandemic, when many of its office staff began working from home or hybrid, the company put its building, visible heading north on Interstate 75, for sale.
An investment firm with offices in Pennsylvania and Israel, Bulgio Capital, bought the building recently for $15.35 million. Tervis is leasing back 60,000-square-feet and the other 64,860 square feet is available for lease. Tervis paid $1.8 million for the property in October 2004, according to Sarasota County property records.
The manufacturing transition — which company officials say was a deliberate move 18 months in the making — and building sale are part of a bigger strategy move, says Feiber, which begins with the products. “We’ve really improved our margins so now we can focus on the brand,” she says. “We want to own home and patio. That’s where we started. That’s our bread and butter.”
She adds Tervis aims to be a go-to place where people are drinking beverages “inside and outside.”
Fieber, 43, is a double-boomerang employee at Tervis. A Business Observer 40 Under 40 winner in 2019, she first joined the company in 2009. Prior to that Fieber, who grew up in Hialeah and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and an MBA from Florida State, worked for a few accounting firms.
Roles she held during her first term at Tervis include financial planning and analysis manager, controller and vice president. She worked closely with Laura Spencer, another Tervis executive who came up on the company’s accounting side and rose to CEO. Fieber says she loved the family atmosphere at the company, down to knowing the IT person very well — he is her husband, who started there before her. (The couple has four children, who range in age from eight to 17.)
In 2015 Fieber left Tervis for ASO Worldwide, a Sarasota bandage and First-Aid products manufacturer. She was controller and CFO at ASO for a little less than two years. In 2017 she came back to Tervis, first as vice president of finance, and was then soon promoted to COO and CFO. She left again earlier this year, when she was named CFO for the parent company of CompostUSA, one of the largest compost producers in Florida, based outside of Orlando.
Even in taking that job, Fieber maintained connections with Tervis. All the more so because she was on the Tervis board — a move Donelly called “strategic,” saying he recognized C-Suite talent is hard to find, and can be harder to replace.
“When I first started at Tervis many years ago, it quickly felt like I was part of an amazing family culture that produced timeless, quality products,” Fieber says in a statement announcing her CEO role. “I have a deep and strong affinity for the Tervis brand, and I’m passionate about our people and our products. My vision for the future is anchored in those truths.”
Correction: This article has been updated to correct Hosana Fieber's age.
Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.