Written by The Business Journal Staff
Carlos Vieira, CEO
What I do:
I oversee all aspects of the 51FIFTY brand of energy drink.
I studied business and went to college in Huntington Beach. I then returned to help run the family business.
I am married to my wife Aysia and have two beautiful daughters, Elaina and Morgan.
How did you first get involved in the energy drink industry, Carlos?
I started my energy drink business as a way to raise money for my foundation. It was a perfect way to grow awareness for the 51FIFTY brand and the Race for Autism Campaign. I felt the energy drink business would fit well with what our brand was about and how we always strive to improve ourselves and the people around us.
Can you describe your business philosophy, Carlos?
I was always told to make customer service the No. 1 thing you provide a client. Yes, a great product and the right prices are important, but if a customer does not feel you appreciate their business, they will find what they need elsewhere. We must make it easy for someone to do business with us.
What changes or adjustments has your company made in response to the recent controversy surrounding the product name — and why?
We removed the definition of the California Legal Code 5150 from our cans because it has nothing to do with our brand. 51FIFTY is about setting and not only reaching goals but exceeding them and proving the naysayers wrong along the way.
Also, in light of everything, the Carlos Vieira Foundation created a new campaign called “Race to end the Stigma”, which will raise awareness and money to help those living with mental illness.
What are the most important issues/challenges facing the energy-drink industry today, Carlos?
The biggest challenge facing the energy drink industry today is the competition. There are a few big hitters out there that have made a name for themselves and they don’t want to give up any piece of the pie. But, we are making strides in the industry by providing a healthier alternative with high quality ingredients and in the flavors that people want. 51FIFTY has always had natural herbs and vitamins. And we are now producing a line of organic drinks — good for the Earth and good for us.
Do you have any current plans to expand the business or branch out into new areas, Carlos?
We are currently expanding our apparel line and accessories that will be sold along with our energy drinks online as well as in the first 51FIFTY store that is currently under construction in Downtown Livingston!
I am also working on a premium vodka made from a special variety of sweet potato that I grow exclusively.
51FIFTY is here to stay and will only continue to grow. I know what it takes to be successful and it doesn’t happen overnight. But by creating a solid base in our local markets first, we are building the foundation that will facilitate expansion into bigger markets in the future.
What was the best advice you ever received and who did it come from, Carlos?
The best advice that I’ve been given came from my father, and it was to always carry something that you can take notes on so you can write down thoughts and ideas. He always carried around a note pad and pen. These days I use my Voice Memo app on my phone.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career, Carlos?
My father has been my biggest influence. He worked hard to make a better life for himself and his family. In the same way, I wanted to take what he did for me, build on it and continue to provide a better life for my family.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Carlos?
I was born in Brazil and we immigrated to this country when I was 1 year-old. I grew up and went to school in Livingston. Our family business also started in Livingston in 1960. The Central Valley means a lot to me and I want to continue to give back as much as possible.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, Carlos?
My first job was working on the family farm and in the packing shed. I found that it is important to learn all the jobs within the company and to work alongside the people that make a business run day in and day out, especially if you intend to someday manage and own the company. Taking time to learn the business from the bottom up was a valuable and immeasurable lesson.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Carlos?
In my spare time I race cars as my main hobby. I also enjoy traveling and seeing different parts of the world.