lawrence w. bates

vice-president of marketing and sales,Sun-Rype Products,Kelowna, B.C.Lawrence Bates began learning the ropes in marketing in the late 1950s, when he held the positions of produce department manager and assistant store manager at a Canada Safeway outlet in Regina.In 1960, Bates took...

vice-president of marketing and sales,

Sun-Rype Products,

Kelowna, B.C.

Lawrence Bates began learning the ropes in marketing in the late 1950s, when he held the positions of produce department manager and assistant store manager at a Canada Safeway outlet in Regina.

In 1960, Bates took over as store manager, a post he maintained for the next six years.

In 1966, he joined confectionery-manufacturer Walter M. Lowney of Sherbrooke, Que., as an account representative for north central Saskatchewan.

Two years later, Bates, who studied food retailing and economics at Cornell University in Ithica, n.y. and business administration at the University of Saskatchewan, joined Sun-Rype Products as a branch manager.

During his 25-year career with Sun-Rype, Bates has held positions as sales supervisor, sales manager and director of marketing before assuming his current title as vice-president of marketing and sales.

- Managed 20 new-product launches and four packaging changes during 25-year career with Sun-Rype.

- As a member of Sun-Rype’s senior management group, played a key role in changing Sun-Rype from an organization with a co-operative mind-set to one that is market-driven.

we asked:

Q. Are you a believer in marketing by science or intuition?

A. ‘Because marketing today involves so many complex influencing factors, I believe that both scientific tools and intuition play a major role in the decision-making process.’

Q. Was there a significant turning point in your career?

A. ‘Yes, I believe my decision to move from the distributor side of the food business to the supplier side set my direction for the future. I went into the selling game and that whetted my appetite for more involvement in the total marketing concept.’

Q. Who or what influenced you the most in your marketing career?

A. ‘I gained respect for a number of people who influenced me throughout my career, but I think the key thing that I did was to go back to school to gain a more formal business education.’

Q. What is your favorite marketing campaign (not including campaigns with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘It has to be the Coke Classic launch. That marketing campaign is already etched in case studies and will be debated for years to come.’

Q. What is your favorite ad (not including ads with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘I can’t say that I have a particularly favorite ad, but I do like to watch work done by particular companies, for example McDonald’s ads, which are so well done and well-targeted, and also many of the beer companies’ ads.’

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. ‘Kelowna, b.c. is sometimes called the four seasons playground, and while I don’t play for all four seasons, I am an avid skier in the winter and like to golf in the summer.

Q. What book influenced you the most?

A. ‘I can’t say that any one book influenced me more than others.

‘I do tend to read a lot of books and magazine articles related to business. I find this keeps me up to date on the latest strategic thinking of the business gurus.’

Q. What do you love most about the marketing business?

A. ‘The marketing business, particularly the food side of consumer packaged goods, is a fast-paced, innovative business that keeps you on your toes. It doesn’t allow you time to get rusty, and I think this is good. Also, it’s a people business requiring team work, and I like that.’

Creative/strategic sense

‘Lawrence is very much objective-oriented. He is very adept at staying focussed and driving towards an established goal.’

‘He tends to preach the logical, step-by-step approach to marketing. He says `If you want to take a risk, fine, do so. But know your options.’ ‘

‘Lawrence is willing to look at non-traditional communication approaches. For instance, 10 years ago, Sun-Rype was one of the first advertisers in Western Canada to do a road-vehicle sponsorship with a local radio station. The roads are saturated now, so we recently got out of it.’

Management style

‘Lawrence lets people get on with the job by empowering them with the responsibility to develop strategy and creative. But he is always there as a supervisor.’

‘Lawrence delegates to his various managers. While he is aware of what goes on day-to-day, he is more involved in the big picture.’

‘There is a new catch phrase in the ’90s called empowerment. Larry has always been into empowerment.’

‘His biggest attribute is his coolness under pressure… People are loyal to him because he is cool under pressure and very fair.’

Business sense

‘He is always one who says `how does this fit with the objectives and if it does, how does it?’ ‘

‘He has an `if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ approach. If something is working and meets the marketing objectives, he won’t change it for the sake of changing it.’

‘He took a risk switching Sun-Rype’s family-size packaging from 48-oz. cans to one-litre Tetra Paks, but the risk paid off. Family-size sales of citrus fruit juices in b.c. are now 80% in Tetra Paks.

Competitive sense

‘Lawrence is a tremendous competitor. He plays to win; he hates to lose.’

‘He came up from the sales side and it is not always easy to go from regional sales to marketing at the head office. But he was prepared to go out and learn the job, so he has been successful.’

‘Lawrence has done what it takes to get where he is, but he has a balanced life now. He owns a big boat and likes to play tennis and golf.’

Corporate vision

‘Even as a sales guy, Lawrence was always looking at the business in terms of strategy and program, rather than simply on the basis on making a sale… He could see the broader picture and the potential of Sun-Rype. He sees the category as the beverage category, not just the juice category.’

‘When Sun-Rye began, it was really only a salvage operation. It would take whatever locally-grown apples it could get and make juice out of them. Lawrence was behind changing the company from a salvage operation to a market-driven operation. Now they source fruit from all over.’

‘Lawrence was the marketing guy at Sun-Rype who pushed the firm to diversify its product line and and explore different packaging concepts.’

(Next issue: Doug Willox, vice-president of advertising and corporate communications, Sony of Canada, Toronto.)