top of page


Screen Shot 2022-03-08 at 2.23.07 PM.png
Greg Steltenpohl 1954-2021


Best known for the successes of Odwalla Juice Co. and Califia Farms, Greg was a pioneering leader of the natural and organic food industry, living a mission-driven career that prioritized environmental sustainability, employee empowerment, creative corporate culture, and authenticity as core drivers of business success. 

In 1980, with long-time friends Jeannine Bassett and Gerry Percy, Greg purchased a $200 restaurant juicer and some oranges and delivered fresh-squeezed juice to the first Odwalla account in Santa Cruz. It was the beginning of a fresh-juice revolution that led to “Superfood” green smoothies becoming available across the nation. Although Odwalla originally was founded as a means to finance the friends’ passion for playing music, Greg’s vision for a sustainable company combined with his talent to galvanize people around a common goal fostered a creative and inclusive culture that was itself a work of art. He nurtured a strong dedication to Odwalla’s mission of  “nourishing the body whole” with stock option benefits to employees at all levels, a free family style meal program for production line workers and opportunities for all staff to engage in creative endeavors including  employee talent shows. More than a few Odwallaians purchased their first homes thanks to Greg’s generous and visionary spirit.


In 1996 a batch of contaminated fruit was attributed to numerous consumers falling ill and the death of a child. The tragedy was an affront to Greg’s vision of spreading health and while Odwalla’s response and turnaround became a business school case-study, the need for new investors led the company to be sold to Coca Cola in 2001.


Greg continued to experiment with socially and environmentally minded-ventures. Under the guidance of Visa founder Dee Hock, he co-founded The Interra Project, a loyalty program to encourage local spending and support non-profits. He also co-founded and led Adina for Life, a fairtrade and organic juice and coffee company. However in 2010 Greg found his second act.


Greg co-founded Califia Farms as a direct-from-farmers juice venture with the producers of California grown Cuties (tangerines). Greg’s creativity soon extended the brand into another local crop - almonds. When paired with the brand’s iconic bottle, Califia Almondmilk was an instant success. Innovation with oats and coconut led Califia to become the leading premium brand in the U.S non-dairy milk category and was emblematic of the rise of modern plant-based eating. Greg retired as CEO shortly before his death in 2021.


Those who know him might argue that the industry loved him not only for what he stood for — an idea that an outstanding experience could also be one that does good for the world — but because he’d survived the entrepreneurial hardships that inevitably come when you’re forging a new path.


At heart, Greg was a builder of tribes, a force who pulled people toward him to create great things – a champion of the environment, workers, women, wonderfully diverse groups of people, and progressive ideas – with an instinct for harmonizing human energies to generate new solutions. He believed in the future and engaged with the present to address the troubles of the world.

bottom of page