Kevin Rutherford is the president and CEO of Seattle-based nuun hydration. Rutherford grew up in Ottawa playing hockey with the Nepean Raiders and graduated from the University of Ottawa. He continues to play hockey for fun, is a seasoned triathlete and runner. He enjoys yoga, hiking with his wife and two dogs, traveling the world, and is a serial learner about health, wellness and building inspirational brands and companies. He sees his role as CEO as a position to inspire and build a culture to help bring nuun’s mission to life. Rutherford has had a successful career growing businesses by creating meaningful, positive change. Prior to nuun he was the CEO of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day and previously a Marketing Director at Kashi Company.
Events across North America are moving away from high sugar, artificially sweetened products to plant-based, electrolyte rich, low-sugar alternatives. For the first time this, year two big races, the Bolder Boulder 10K in Colorado (the second largest foot race in the country boasting more than 50,000 participants) and Run Ottawa (the biggest racing weekend in Canada), switched their sports drink provider from Gatorade to nuun.
The brand started 11 years ago under the premise that there was a better way to hydrate at races, and they developed a formula that was one of the first to separate hydration (electrolytes) from fuel (sugars and carbs). They also believe the planet needed fewer disposable bottles – so they made their product an effervescent, self-dissolving tablet to be dropped into any reusable water bottle.
Active Junky sat down with Rutherford recently at the Bolder Boulder to find out the story behind his and the brand’s success. Learn more about the products and company on their website.
What's your personal passion surrounding nunn? What are you doing differently than other hydration companies?
My personal passion is really simple. I want to inspire and motivate those that I touch to achieve more than they thought they could. There is so much positive energy out there that I get energized about unleashing it. At nuun, our mission follows a very similar path to my personal aspirations. We want to inspire a healthier, happier, more active lifestyle so that everyone can achieve life’s next personal best. I believe this is the foundation of what has made nuun one of the fastest growing brands. People want to be inspired and want to believe they can do better. We help them see the possibilities and give them the hydration tools to get there. Further, unlike other hydration brands, nuun is in high and growing demand among elite and professional athletes to inspirational people tackling their first 5K run. That's because we are constantly improving to be the best product for our athletes’ needs.
What are a few of your environmental initiatives?
Our planet, or our playground as we call it, is core to every decision we make today and into the future. There are many issues that we need to address collectively to make our planet healthier so humanity can thrive for centuries to come.
Our four initiatives that we have prioritized are:
1) Minimizing our footprint: Did you know that over 50 million bottles are consumed every day primarily from single-use disposable beverages? That is why we don't sell a 'ready to drink' nuun to encourage our users to reuse their water bottle with a nuun tablet.
2) Help restore and conserve wildlife places in the USA and Canada so we can all keep exploring while keeping our planet healthier. Our actions on this initiative: We have become an active member of the Conservation Alliance to help make this initiative a reality. We were the first brand to take an additional step by co-branding a 4-pack of nuun with a portion of the proceeds going to the cause.
3) Clean Water: Access to clean water is critical for our company being a hydration company. In addition to that, it is critical for humanity and has recently become of concern right here in the USA. We have committed to collectively volunteer 500 hours annually to restore the environment. This year we have partnered with the Surfrider Foundation on this social mission to help keep waterways clean and free of plastic waste.
4) Human Power is the better way: We are on a mission to reduce the number of cars on the road and get people to rethink their commute and consider a bike. The number one obstacle for people not riding bikes for commuting is the concern around safety. As a result, we partnered with the non-profit, People-for-Bikes, to help create more bike lanes in cities across America. This will improve safety and accessibility for riding a bike for everyone in major cities.
As an industry leader, what do you hope to accomplish, or help people understand, about exercise/fitness and hydration?
Imagine a world where people viewed clean hydration, clean nutrition and human-powered movement as something they wanted to do, instead of something they had to do? That is the reframe we want to create and as a result bring positive change for everyone. This would bring an end to a chronically dehydrated society. This would drastically reduce the rising concern of obesity and diseases like diabetes.
At nuun we strive to be part of the solution, encouraging everyone to live a healthier, more active lifestyle. Hydration is a key component and can be accomplished without excess sugars and single use bottles.
Creating positive change truly makes the world a better place. Healthcare costs are reduced, the impact on the environment is reduced and clean sport is encouraged and celebrated. That is what we hope to accomplish and invite everyone to participate in the journey with us.