Former Head of Marketing at Celestial Seasonings
For more than 45 years, Rick’s career has been focused on business strategy and innovation. It was his diverse leadership experience in both sophisticated business environments and high-growth entrepreneurial cultures that shaped the essence of the firm he co-founded, Sterling-Rice Group.
Rick began his career in brand management at Quaker Oats in Chicago. There, he ran their $500 million+ pet food business, created and launched Kibbles ‘n Bits, still a $300 million brand 35 years later.
Rick was recruited to head marketing at Celestial Seasonings in 1981 when Celestial was one of the true pioneers as a purpose-driven brand. Rick and Michael Rice worked together at Quaker and Celestial, then started Sterling-Rice Group in 1984, in Boulder CO, based on their common experiences. Their premise, that firms seeking growth would benefit from their brand-building experiences at both large, sophisticated and entrepreneurial marketing environments, has proven to be true and enduring. Now 33 years later, Sterling-Rice Group has become one of the country’s leading integrated brand development firms recognized for its fusion of strategy and creativity, its expertise in consumer products, health & wellness, its values-based culture and the enduring impact it has on clients and consumer culture.
When Rick and Michael started the company, they committed to making SRG a social experiment – where they would practice their professions at the highest level and leverage their expertise to have significant social impact. The company measures performance against its Beliefs and sets strategy from these culture assessments. Rick believes this might be the single most significant driver of SRG’s long-term success. The company also gives 10% of its profits to community and social causes.
Over the years, SRG has had significant and enduring impact for large and small companies. SRG works extensively with PepsiCo, KraftHeinz, Con Agra, Kellogg’s, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Pfizer and many more, providing strategy, innovation and design expertise. Since its inception, SRG has been involved at critical junctures to build many of the entrepreneurial successes in the natural and organic sector: Earth’s Best Baby Food, Cascadian Farm, Kashi, Annie’s Homegrown, Horizon Organic, So Delicious, Dave’s Killer Bread, Bolthouse Farms, ThinkThin and more. Each of these brands has eventually been sold to large strategic or financial buyers in attractive deals for the sellers.
Rick was the CEO of SRG from 1984 to 2010 and is now the Board Chairman.