story by GLENDA WINDERS
When Matt Whiteside thought about the company he would eventually create, he asked himself “how do we make products in Indiana that are good for people,” and, “how do we build a company with great career opportunities that will enrich the people who live here?”
He’d worked for Coca-Cola and then at Rolls-Royce Aerospace, but as a Type- 1 diabetic since he was 3 years old, he was continuously searching for a drink that would taste great without harming his body. When he looked into the subject further, he found that trends indicate most people prefer to ingest health- conscious products.
He went back into the beverage business and created Circle Beverage, with a focus on Kombucha, a combination of a probiotic, yeast, and acetic acid that originated in China, where it was thought to have healing properties. It is a fermented tea product, much like beer and wine, except that it is non-alcoholic and healthy.
“It’s fizzy, flavorful and a great alternative to sugary beverages on the market,” Whiteside said.
Circle Beverage Kombucha comes in such flavors as Ginger Lemon, Pomegranate, Peach Blossom and Mango Turmeric, but that isn’t all they make. In 2020 the company introduced a new product, Circle Sparkling Collagen Water.
“Collagen is present in skin, nails, hair, bones, joints and ligaments,” Whiteside said, “but most people don’t have enough.”
He and his colleagues researched the subject and came up with the tasty water that has 18 grams of collagen in every can and comes in such flavors as Watermelon Thyme, Lemon Mint, Vanilla Pear and Raspberry Hibiscus. Circle Beverage products are distributed to stores such as Giant Eagle, Walmart, Whole Foods and CVS across Indiana and the Midwest.
The company is also the contract manufacturer for other brands. While Whiteside said he can’t disclose which ones they are, he makes sure they are healthy, functional, clean-energy, tea-based products.
“It’s fun to put our expertise into supporting other companies who have the same vision,” he said.
He said the company calls itself the “better for you” beverage manufacturer. At this point they don’t do tastings like wineries and breweries do, but they participate in marketing activities such as samplings and event sponsorships.
The second part of their goal – to provide enriching careers – has become a reality, too. They currently have 25 full-time employees on a team that is constantly growing. One of their top priorities is equality – a belief that all people are of significant and equal value and a commitment to anti-racist education and diversity in communities. They are working toward B Corp certification, which means they operate according to high social, environmental and legal principles.
The company is also as serious about its employee culture as it is about its products. They prioritize safety, embrace challenge and change, and encourage employees to find balance in their lives. And how could anyone looking for a job – or something good to drink – resist the banner on Circle’s website that claims “We have fun. A lot of fun. Too much fun.”