September 14, 2011

Milstones Icon: Steve Demos

WhiteWave Foods founder Steve Demos calls himself a hardcore vegetarian who loves tofu.

But you probably know the Boulder entrepreneur better as the one who masterminded the plot to convince many American consumers to switch from buying regular milk to Silk, which is now the No. 1 revenue-producing soymilk in the country.

These days, WhiteWave products are sold in more than 96 percent of the nation’s supermarkets, and Silk also is the best-selling organic product in the world.

Demos is modest about his influence on consumer habits and on the success of Silk and WhiteWave’s related products. He points to government policy changes that allowed WhiteWave to advertise as a legitimate cholesterol reducer. He also credits hard work and a little bit of luck.

After soymilk rocketed into the stratosphere in terms of sales, Demos retired from WhiteWave in 2005.

He then formed a new company to sell GoodBelly – a probiotic drink and powder food supplement that’s in currently sold in a few thousand stores, including many area grocery stores. It’s a patented product in Sweden that helps consumers with digestion.

Demos, 62, graduated from Bowling Green University in 1970. After traveling for four years through Asia studying Eastern philosophy, he returned to the United States with the goal of starting an environmentally focused company.

WhiteWave was the result.

Demos has been featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Small Business magazine, Fortune, USA Today, CNN Financial News and Success magazine. Locally, he received the Boulder Chamber’s Entrepreneur to Watch award in 1977 and the Entrepreneur of Distinction award in 1996.

White Wave was named Small Business of the Year in 1992 and was the Colorado recipient of the U.S. Small Business Administration Entrepreneurial Success 2001 award. In 2001, Inc. Magazine named WhiteWave to its list of the Top 500 fastest-growing companies in America. Demos was inducted into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame in 2003.

Demos lives in Boulder with his wife, Sheryl.

WhiteWave Foods founder Steve Demos calls himself a hardcore vegetarian who loves tofu.

But you probably know the Boulder entrepreneur better as the one who masterminded the plot to convince many American consumers to switch from buying regular milk to Silk, which is now the No. 1 revenue-producing soymilk in the country.

These days, WhiteWave products are sold in more than 96 percent of the nation’s supermarkets, and Silk also is the best-selling organic product in the world.

Demos is modest about his influence on consumer habits and on the success of Silk and WhiteWave’s related products. He points to government policy changes…

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