Peter van Stolk missed the annual shareholders meeting Thursday for Jones Soda, the company he founded 20 years ago and led as chairman...
Biofuels derived from agricultural products are currently under fire amid rising food prices and doubts about their environmental benefits. But this week, area biodiesel enthusiasts will fight back — at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).
“Fields of Fuel”, a documentary advocating the wider adoption of biodiesel, will screen at the Harvard Exit theater on Capitol Hill on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Thursday at 4.30 p.m. Director Josh Tickell is scheduled to attend both showings of what the SIFF catalog calls a “fiercely populist” film.Local biofuel lovers will also join biodiesel car caravans ending at the Harvard Exit on Tuesday, and before the Wednesday screening.
The car parades will depart Tuesday at 6 p.m. and Wednesday at noon from Dr. Dan’s Alternative Fuelwerks, 912 N.W. 50th St. in Ballard.
The finish line will be at the Harvard Exit. Participants aren’t limited to biodiesel cars — hybrids and any other alternative-fuel vehicles are also welcome to join, said Rebecca Harrell, marketing director for Josh Tickell Productions.
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Amid all the troubles affecting the alternative-fuels industry, the movie demonstrates to biodiesel enthusiasts “why we need to hang in there,” said Nikola Davidson, president of the Northwest Biofuels Association. (She got a sneak preview of the film in February.)
Winnie Khoo, assistant marketing director for Tickell Productions, acknowledges that biofuels are “having a rough time right now.” As for blaming increased production of biodiesel and ethanol for soaring grain prices, she says the film’s producers are “advocates of nonfood sources to make biodiesel and also using marginal lands.”
— Ángel González
Jones Soda founder, once ‘the face of the brand,’ skips annual meeting
Peter van Stolk missed the annual shareholders meeting Thursday for Jones Soda, the company he founded 20 years ago and led as chairman and CEO until Dec. 31.
Van Stolk, who still sits on the Jones board, said in a later telephone interview that it was “better to allow them to have the show without my presence.”
“It’s the first time to hear new management speak in this form, and I have to allow them to lay out their strategy and support that strategy. Since I had been the face of the brand for so long, it was better not to be there.”
Some at the meeting saw things differently, including Karl Trumble of Edmonds, who owns about 12,000 Jones shares, some bought at $9.20 and others at $2.75. Shares traded around $3 last week.
“By not showing up, it says he doesn’t care so much about us or maybe even the company anymore,” Trumble said.
Van Stolk stepped down after sharp declines in Jones’ profit and stock price last year.
New management, including CEO Stephen Jones (no relation) and COO Joth Ricci, reviewed for stockholders the changes they’ve made since taking over.
One insight: They said the company’s deals to distribute soda at Qwest Field and on Alaska Airlines are break-even propositions — not intended to make money but to introduce the drinks to people who might buy them in stores.
They cited QFC supermarkets as an example. The regional chain carried Jones cola only during last year’s football season, when it was being promoted at Seahawks games. But now people are trying it on Alaska Airlines flights and requesting it in stores, Ricci told shareholders, so QFC has placed a new order.
He also said the company’s much-awaited new drink with the anti-stress ingredient Gaba will appear in some stores this fall and be widely distributed early next year.
Looking ahead, CEO Jones told investors he wants to tap international markets. “That’s a big, untapped frontier for us,” he said.
He wants to take the company mainstream, which he said means getting wider distribution but not losing its edge or hipness. Some investors question that strategy, and some like it.
Shareholder Trumble said he figures the worst-case scenario is a buyout. “They could get bought out because they’re an irritant to the big players” like Coke and Pepsi, he said.
— Melissa Allison
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