As a child growing up in Palmer Lake, Colorado, Mo Siegel wandered the spacious Rocky Mountains, picking up wild berries and mountain herbs along the paths he forged. It wasn’t until years later, however, that his interest in those herbs would turn into a lucrative business called Celestial Seasonings®.
Passionate about art, Mo opened a small art store in the late 1960s, eventually combining his two loves by creating a gallery and health food store. A tea drinker for years, Mo served Oriental herb tea to customers in his store, but he quickly realized that better tea could be created using the wild herbs from the nearby hillsides and canyons of the Rocky Mountains. Armed with a burlap sack and a couple of friends, Mo harvested the herbs to create his first healthy blend, aptly named “MO's 36 Herb Tea®” by the health food store that sold it. After the success of his first tea-making endeavor, Mo decided that it was time to go into business with some long-time friends and began what has become the largest specialty tea manufacturer in North America.
Devoting his days to creating such tantalizing Celestial Seasonings blends as Red Zinger® and Sleepytime®, Mo led the company to a successful acquisition by Kraft, Inc., in 1984. He rejoined the company as chairman and CEO in 1991. In 2000, Mo oversaw the merger of his company with The Hain Food Group to form The Hain Celestial Group, staying on to oversee the transition between the companies. Assured of Celestial Seasonings leadership position in the herb tea industry, Mo retired in September 2002 to fulfill another dream: to finish hiking the last set of 14,000-foot Colorado mountains he has yet to climb. Undeniably, Mo Siegel’s boy-sized dream created a larger-than-life reali-“tea” for both himself and avid tea drinkers everywhere.
The Hain Celestial Group (Nasdaq: HAIN), producer of WestSoy, Yves Veggie Cuisine, Health Valley, Westbrae Natural, Arrowhead Mills and others, and the leading natural and organic food company, today announced that Mo Siegel, founder of Celestial Seasonings and Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors, has decided to retire from the Company.
Irwin Simon commented on this event, "We thank Mo for his many contributions to The Hain Celestial Group. His return to the Company two years ago was an important factor in the successful integration of our two companies. We wish Mo every success in the future."
Celestial Seasonings had its beginnings in 1969 in Aspen, Colorado where 19-year-old Mo Siegel gathered wild herbs in the forests and canyons of the Rocky Mountains and made them into healthful teas.
In 1969, Siegel and his friend Wyck Hay found a bountiful harvest of wild herbs growing around Boulder, Colorado. With friends and wives helping, they picked the herbs and produced 500 pounds of their first blend called MO's 36 Herb Tea®. It was packaged in hand-sewn muslin bags and sold to a local health food store.
Hay's brother, John, joined the partnership in 1971. The entrepreneurs set up shop in an old barn outside of Boulder, and they expanded their market to stores throughout Colorado, New Mexico and the East Coast. The partners also began buying herbs rather than picking everything themselves, and the dream of a national herb tea company slowly began to materialize.
This dream was reinforced when Red Zinger® Herb Tea was introduced in January 1972 and was an immediate sensation. It remains one of the best-selling Celestial® teas.
The company continued to grow and revolutionize the tea industry. Herb teas had previously been perceived as only of medicinal significance, but Celestial Seasonings introduced herb teas as flavorful, healthy beverages, virtually creating the modern tea industry.
Celestial Seasonings solidified its sources for obtaining ingredients, such as hibiscus flowers and chamomile, by working closely with herb farmers from the Pacific Northwest to the exotic Far East. This forward thinking attracted the attention of food industry giant Kraft, Inc., which bought Celestial Seasonings in 1984. Kraft's guidance brought Celestial Seasonings to the attention of new consumers, further strengthening its lead in the herb tea industry while also introducing a gourmet line of traditional, or black, teas.
In September 1988, Kraft sold Celestial Seasonings back to its management, returning the tea company to independent ownership. The company remains headquartered in Boulder, in the corporate facility on Sleepytime Drive.
The company, in 1991, experienced the exciting return of its original founder and leader, Mo Siegel, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Since then, the company has expanded upon its herbal expertise bringing to market successful lines of Green, Wellness, Organic, and Chai teas.
In 2000, Celestial joined forces with the Hain Food Group, maker of many top-selling natural foods brands. The merger was based on the companies' mutually beneficial attributes: Hain Food Group's strength in the health and natural foods channel and Celestial's powerful tea brand in mass retail channels. Celestial Seasonings is now part of The Hain Celestial Group. Today, serving more than 1.2 billion cups of tea per year, Celestial Seasonings is the largest herb tea manufacturer in North America and is expanding internationally at a rapid rate.
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