Managing Partners

The Managing Partners of GBS Growth Partners have almost 50 years combined experience in the food and beverage industry. Our experience combined with our Advisors, Operating Managers and Associates, encompasses all functional areas including strategic planning, sales, distribution, marketing, finance, supply chain, production, product development and private equity finance.

John Blackington has over 30 years experience, both as the owner of his own company and as a senior executive for several leading food and beverage companies, including The Coca-Cola Company. He has helped jumpstart a number of successful new brands today in critical areas ranging from helping build sales and distribution systems, expanding retail availability, developing equity strategies and sourcing capital. He has developed the ‘Smart Equity’ Project, an innovative way of partnering beverage startups with major beverage companies to create synergy and leverage. He has a passion for helping entrepreneurs reach commercial success. John received a BS and MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Jack Brennan is a seasoned global executive with over 30 years in the food and beverage industry working with large companies as well as entrepreneurial start-ups. His experience spans senior positions with The Coca-Cola Company, Host Marriot Services, and G. Heileman Brewing. Jack has strong knowledge in critical areas such as strategic planning, business development, marketing, sales, distribution, operations and financing. Jack was previously a Partner with Tatleaux Partners, a consulting firm advising clients in areas of strategic planning and financing strategies. He has been assigned- Interim CEO of several portfolio beverage companies. Jack received a BS in Business from Boston College.

Operating Managers

Tom Blackington GM of GBS AXS Brands – Texas, has over 25 years of sales, marketing and operational success in the beverage industry across the US. He has worked with/for Coca-Cola as well as with early stage companies including Bolthouse Farms, Celsius and Soylent. Tom has deep connections with retailers and distributors throughout Texas. He has strong contacts of ‘early adopter’ channels such as food service, colleges, schools and fitness channels.

Charlie Meyer GM of GBS AXS Brands – Southeast, is a results oriented sales and marketing executive with extensive experience designing, developing and implementing marketing and sales plans in the consumer products industry.  He is known for building high performance teams, developing distribution channels, and new business opportunities in order to achieve sustainable top and bottom line growth. He started his career in local and regional sales in the state of Florida for Clairol and Crane Sales. Most recently, Charlie was General Manager of CDZ Sales in Florida where he managed a sales team representing multiple national consumer brands to the largest retailers in the Southeast.  During his career he has received over twenty- five sales awards from client/customer companies. Charlie has a BBA in Marketing from University of Miami, Coral Cables Florida.

Dan Sweeney GM of GBS AXS Brands – Northeast, has 14 years of senior level sales management at The Coca-Cola Company.  He has also owned and operated his own multi-franchised retail, shipping, printing and logistics firm. Dan’s specialty is helping small businesses grow market share  through compelling, customer driven sales and marketing strategies that focus on products with the greatest profit potential.  Dan received his BA in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and his MBA from the University of Southern Illinois, Edwardsville, Il.  Dan also serves on the board of advisors for the New Center for Children, Southborough, MA and the board of directors for the human rights committee at Amego Inc., Attleboro, MA, which offers services for both children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities.

Ken Tenace GM of GBS AXS Brands – California, has over 25 years of experience helping high growth brands across the US. He began his career with Red Bull from their very early stages. He managed all key accounts in Southern California for the LA distributor of Red Bull. Ken has also held key sales positions within Neuro. Crunk Energy and Power Coco …placing their brands in distributorships and a broad range of retail channels across the country. Ken received his BS in Marketing from Cal State University, Long Beach.

Brand Managers

Rebecca Rouse Brand Manager – Texas, has almost 20 years of beverage industry experience working with companies such as Allied Domecq, FIJI Water, RJ Reynolds and MillerCoors. During this time she held positions that work closely with major distributors and retailers at all levels. She is skilled in developing strong growth plans and getting teams aligned against delivering exceptional results. She works with retailers at all levels – national,  regional as well as locally. She is a graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio with a major in communications and a minor in marketing.

Senior Advisors

Hal Kravitz has over 25 years experience in the beverage industry. He is currently CEO of AQUAhydrate and a member of the Celsius Board of Directors. Prior to AQUAhydrate, Hal was President/CEO of Glaceau (Vitaminwater) and has held various senior positions at The Coca Cola Company and Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE) His last position at CCE was Chief Revenue Officer responsible for the strategic planning function. Hal brings in depth knowledge of all aspects of the beverage industry to GBS. Hal earned a BS degree from the University of Georgia – Terry College of Business.

Lorne Paskin is currently a principle with Zuckerman – Honickman …the largest packaging distributor in the US. Lorne’s global supply chain experience and relationships including contract packers are a valuable asset to early stage companies. Lorne has a BS from the University of Maryland.


John Launder is a senior executive with over thirty years of experience in a wide array of disciplines in the beverage industry. He has worked with both large companies and start-ups, and has extensive sales, operations, marketing and general management experience with multiple companies, including The Coca-Cola Company. John has started several successful businesses including Sprite Bottling of Southwest, a distributor that marketed multiple brands across Texas. In addition to being an Advisor for GBS, John is currently an adjunct instructor in Business Strategy and Planning at the University of Arkansas. John has a strong background in marketplace execution and excellence. He received his B.A. from Westminster College and a M.A. from University of Missouri.