When James D. White took over as president and CEO of Jamba Inc. on Dec. 1, 2008, he was looking at a company with a net loss that had gone from $113 million in 2007 to $149 million in 2008.
The previous CEO and much of the senior management had left, leaving the chairman to fill in as interim CEO and the controller to fill in as chief financial officer.
White, a former vice president of consumer brands for food and drug retailer Safeway Inc., had his hands full. Three weeks after he took over, Nestlé announced that because of production problems, it was suspending production and shipments of Jamba ready-to-drink beverages introduced earlier in the year.
Jamba needed to be refocused and re-energized.
“The organization was looking for strong, clear leadership and a way forward in what was a very, very tough economy,” White says. “I needed to stabilize the employee base so they knew that there was a leader that would quickly get to a game plan that would be clearly articulated that everybody would understand, so kind of a steadying hand from a leadership perspective was job No. 1.”
But that wasn’t all he needed to do to get Jamba back on track.
“The second thing I needed to do was I needed to get out and listen to customers and suppliers and employees to help form the ultimate turnaround plan, so we spent a significant amount of time [on that],” he says.
White set out to do these things by talking to employees and establishing a new strategy to move the organization forward.