Sunny Delight: Cutting Ties

By Mel Duvall Print this article Print

The beverage maker is being spun off from Procter & Gamble. In 12 months, it plans to run a $600 million business with a technology staff of—count 'em—six.

Greg Winholt, chief information officer and controller of fruit beverage maker Sunny Delight, glances at his watch; time is precious. A steady stream of heads poke into his office to see if his interview is over, and the Blackberry on his desk clamors for attention.

It's early February, and Winholt has just 179 days left to build a computer and communications network from scratch that will run the global operations of the $600 million company.

On Aug. 1, Sunny Delight's plug will be pulled out of its longtime socket: parent Procter & Gamble. View the PDF -- Turn off pop-up blockers!

The company was purchased for an undisclosed price in August 2004 by private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates from the consumer products giant known for Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste. P&G agreed to support Sunny Delight's operations, including its information-technology department. But only for 12 months.

So this summer, Sunny D, as it is known to millions of children, must be ready to fly on its own—powered by new systems. Another goal: run those operations with only five or six full-time staff, and rely on third parties to host and manage financial software applications, process customer orders, keep track of inventory, and perform other tasks.

"It's been a bit of a crazy ride," concedes Winholt, a former P&G finance executive who was coaxed out of retirement to be part of the new management team. "But we've worked hard and planned carefully for the changeover. It's not a matter of will we get done on time. We have to get done on time."

This article was originally published on 2005-03-07
Contributing Editor
Mel Duvall is a veteran business and technology journalist, having written for a variety of daily newspapers and magazines for 17 years. Most recently he was the Business Commerce Editor for Interactive Week, and previously served as a senior business writer for The Financial Post.

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