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A smooth idea -- from dad's juice
Zuka now flows in several states, is growing fast

David A. Duffin watched his father make "smoothies" in the blender for the family when he was a kid. Duffin blended his own fruit juice drinks while a missionary in Jamaica.

Then, while a student at Brigham Young University, he blended his entrepreneurial ambition with his interest in selling fruit drinks and launched the Zuka Juice enterprise with his brother and a $20 blender from Wal-Mart.Actually it took a little more than just the blender. Duffin had no cash, but he used the $60,000 combined credit line of about 15 credit cards to open his first Zuka Juice store in Provo's Brigham's Landing shopping center in October 1995.

Zuka grossed more than $1 million the first year. Sales were about 12 times higher the second year, and more than doubled that in the third, and 1999 growth is expected to nearly double again in Utah. Zuka now has 98 stores in eight states using a business model that includes building both corporate and franchise stores.

Duffin, as chief executive officer and president of Zuka Juice Management, understood the importance of developing as many points of differentiation from his competition as possible. He developed the Zuka Juice concept, developed the name and oversaw all marketing, design, research and development.

Another accomplishment was successfully negotiating a merger with his biggest competitor, San Francisco-based Jamba Juice. The merger increases the chances of building a national brand.

Financial specifics of the deal between Jamba Juice, which has 127 stores, and Zuka Juice were not released. Jamba CEO and founder Kirk Perron said he expects the 1999 sales of the combined company to be $150 million.

Zuka Juice stores in Utah will retain that name. Jamba Juice will change the name of Zuka Juice franchises in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Texas. In Colorado and Arizona, where the two brands co-exist, Jamba Juice will convert competing Zuka Juice stores into Jamba Juice stores.