Family tea business savors twenty-plus years of success
SPORTea owners and Happy Canyon residents Keys and Elizabeth Allan enjoying a refreshing glass of their family-owned product rom their home in Happy Canyon.
Article and photos by Elizabeth Wood West
Ultimate Performance Products, Inc./dba SPORTea®, was founded and launched in the mid-1980s by Happy Canyon residents Keys and Elizabeth Allan.
Their product, SPORTea, is a national and international brand, and is sold in virtually every state. Its market includes five-star restaurants, specialty natural food retailers, coffee and tea shops, bagel shops, gift shops, athletic and country clubs, gyms, spas, corporate dining facilities, and university dining halls.
What is SPORTea?
SPORTea was developed over a two-year period by a nationally renowned herbalist. The Allan’s describe SPORTea as a healthy alternative beverage that delivers basic vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, which provides a feeling of well-being for the consumer. SPORTea is a special blend of black and green teas, vitamin C, trace minerals, electrolytes, potassium, ginger, and Siberian ginseng, with a citrusy-sweet taste.
The Allan’s refer to SPORTea as a unique crossover beverage, which can be served cold or hot. If enjoyed as an iced energy drink, they point out that people can drink it all day long without any negative effects. The calorie-free beverage does not contain caffeine, sugar, taurine, guarana, or other stimulants that affect the nervous system. It can also be served hot and enjoyed as a gourmet tea, consumed exactly as it is brewed without adding lemon or sugar/sweeteners, and without an aftertaste.
Building the Family Business
Elizabeth graduated from Boston College; Keys graduated from Northwestern University and attended graduate school at the University of Denver. He worked at ITT and IBM before becoming an entrepreneur. Elizabeth joined Keys in one of the companies he founded, and helped build it into a national chain of mall retail stores called On the Move. Keys was also involved in two other company start-ups that grew into national companies.
When asked why they got into the tea business, they replied, “We didn’t really choose to become a tea manufacturer. We were finishing up with a previous business development enterprise and looking for something very special and totally unique – a product that we could bring to market to benefit people and build over time as a financial foundation for our family,” they said. The Allan’s children, sons Sprigley (age 22) and Harper (age 19) and daughter Creekstar (age 11), have grown up spending their summer breaks working at the family business.
Success in Tough Times
Keys explained the company’s long-term success by saying, “We are grateful that we have so many loyal customers that even in these difficult times continue to order SPORTea directly from us or from their local King Soopers, Vitamin Cottage, etc. We have also been very lucky because we didn’t have a big debt load; when our sales slowed down and our cash flow was squeezed, we didn’t have a call from the bank on our credit line. We have been able to weather the storm by using our own resources as necessary,” he said.
Keys continued, “We are grateful that we have been in business for over 23 years now with one product [that] has sustained the livelihood of our immediate family and our business family. Our company people know that not only are customers loyal to our product, but that the owners are loyal to the employees. We truly do care for each other, work hard for each other, and go the extra mile for each other. [It is] this kind of tangible, touchable, personal reward that has to be the best part of being a small business owner,” said Keys.
For more information, please contact Ultimate Performance Products corporate offices at 7340 S. Alton Way, Suite K, Englewood, CO 80112, 303-694-6965 or visit www.SPORTea.com.