Brian Framson’s journey into founding Citrus America had an unexpected genesis in Vienna, Austria. It all started with a striking contrast he observed while living abroad in Europe, where fresh juice was readily available in local grocery stores. Meanwhile, back in the United States, specifically in citrus-rich states like California and Florida, the latter in which Framson’s own parents resided, the absence of such a simple pleasure puzzled him.
In 2011, Brian, who had grown up in Connecticut, and his father, Ron, founded Citrus America with a simple mission: to bring the joy of fresh juice to the United States, starting with grocery stores and expanding into a myriad of food service operations. Their mission was two-fold: to improve customer experience in America and to drive up healthy profits for businesses through enhanced efficiency, in this case, through their high-quality juicing equipment and successful juicing programs.
Lessons from Giants: The Ford and Coca-Cola Legacy
Framson’s foray into entrepreneurship was not a novice leap into the unknown. His prior experience working with corporate giants like Ford and Coca-Cola infused him with a wealth of knowledge.
“Both Ford and Coca-Cola have been ranked with the best corporate finance/controlling teams when I went to work for them,” he says. Some of the key lessons he took away, he says, are “to always do the job right, and that quality is critical.”
These lessons underpin Citrus America’s ethos, a philosophy rooted in meticulous planning and an unswerving focus on quality. It’s a legacy that Framson continues to honor in his role as CEO, as his father has since passed.
Pandemic Pivot: Navigating the Storm
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses worldwide were forced to adapt or perish. Citrus America was no exception, and their response was nothing short of remarkable. “First, we focused on fixing up the business and its processes when we hit the slowdown. Second, we stayed open while still supporting our grocery store customers, who were juicing like crazy.”
The third phase, however, was a stroke of innovation. Brian and his team embarked on an audacious initiative, “Juicing Across America.” The campaign transformed Citrus America’s fortunes, invigorating the business and rekindling customer relationships. “Once we got our vaccines, we hit the road with our ‘Juicing Across America’ program and started investing in marketing, trade shows, travel, and more to reinvigorate the business.”
Juicing Across America: A Journey of Innovation
The “Juicing Across America” campaign, conceived out of necessity during the pandemic, was a testament to Citrus America’s adaptability and the power of creative thinking. “Well, ‘necessity is the mother of invention,’ as they say,” remarks Framson. “Customers were not meeting with vendors, and after having a few telephone calls with various existing customers and potential customers, we agreed that if we showed up there and met with them in the parking lot, we could make juice and talk about successful juicing programs.”
The result was an inspiring cross-country journey that spanned from Florida to California, meeting customers, delivering juicers, and attending trade shows. The campaign not only met its goals but also generated significant excitement and buzz.
Enhancing Profitability and Customer Experience
Citrus America’s impact extends far beyond refreshing beverages; it’s about enhancing businesses’ profitability and customer experience. Framson shares stories of grocery stores increasing their produce sales by 2 to 4% by simply introducing fresh juice experiences and how Citrus America has turned laborious tasks into fun and efficient processes for restaurant staff, at times even witnessing servers shedding tears of joy when rolling in their new equipment, as they would no longer have to spend five hours manually juicing citrus produce. What a relief!
Global Insights, Local Success
Brian’s international experiences and cultural exposure have deeply influenced Citrus America’s approach to entrepreneurship and business development. “Being born and raised in the USA is an incredible privilege, but there are fantastic inventions, business processes, and lifestyles in different countries. I try to listen to what people are saying and then adapt our processes and ideas to support them best.”
This global perspective allows Citrus America to continually evolve and effectively meet market demands.
Setting the Bar for Quality: Citrus America’s Premium Juicing Equipment
The quality and innovation championed by Citrus America are a legacy of Citrocasa’s original founder, Joseph Pichler. “Our juicers were created in 2005 by Citrocasa’s founder because no other juicer companies were ‘getting the job done.’ Quality was a major issue.”
When Brian and Ron joined the company, they built on this foundation, further enhancing the equipment to meet the demands of the North American market while setting new standards for quality and hygiene.
Citrus America faced numerous challenges when entering the U.S. market, however, including reputational issues not of their making, incidents with factory juices that tainted the image of fresh juice, and a scattergun approach to sales. “We ended up deciding to take a very strong focus in early 2012 after a very challenging 2011, made it work, and by 2014, we were selling equipment to some of the best names in grocery, including Whole Foods, H-E-B and Ahold.”
A Vision for the Future: Freshness, Efficiency, and Profitability
As Brian envisions it, the future of Citrus America is brimming with new products and services, all designed to leverage the trust the company has built with its current crop of customers. “The whole idea is helping our customers and new ones to develop more healthy profits by improving taste, hygiene, and efficiency.”
Brian’s parting advice to aspiring entrepreneurs echoes the wisdom of experience: “Don’t give up your day job until you’ve got it figured out. But, if you’re going to take the plunge, then really focus on where you can be successful quickly.”
In the heart of Citrus America, Brian Framson’s passion for freshness, his steadfast commitment to quality, and his relentless pursuit of innovation continue to make a profound impact on the beverage and hospitality industries.
His journey is a testament to the transformative power of passion and perseverance, inspiring those who dare to dream and make a positive impact in the world of business.