NEW YORK — Leonard Marsh — a former window washer who helped found Snapple, the beverage concern, and was its longtime president and chief executive — died Tuesday at his home in Manhasset, on Long Island. He was 80.
His son-in-law, Jack Ross, confirmed the death.
With his brother-in-law, Hyman Golden, and a childhood friend, Arnold Greenberg, Mr. Marsh began what became the Snapple Beverage Corp. in New York City in 1972.
The company, known early on as Unadulterated Food Products, was created to sell fruit juices to health food stores. A part-time venture, it did modestly at first. By 1994, when it was bought by the Quaker Oats Co. for $1.7 billion, Snapple was recording annual sales of about $700 million.
Mr. Marsh was born in Brooklyn. His father was a cobbler; his mother and Greenberg’s mother, he later said, pushed them in baby carriages together.
After graduating from Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, Mr. Marsh held various jobs, including washing windows and dealing in chickens and eggs.
In their beverage company’s early years, the three men hedged their bets: Mr. Marsh and Golden continued the window-washing business they operated together, and Greenberg kept the health food store he ran in Manhattan.
But by the 1980s, with consumers seeking more healthful bottled drinks, Snapple’s sales had increased; with the introduction in 1987 of the first of its iced teas, it solidified its position as a leader in the New Age beverage market.
The company became known for its whimsical advertisements, notably a 1990s television campaign featuring the Snapple Lady, a warm, earthy woman with a meaty New York accent. The character was played by Wendy Kaufman, an employee in Snapple’s order department.
After Snapple was acquired by Quaker Oats, Mr. Marsh stayed on for a few years as executive vice president for planning. Snapple is currently owned by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group of Plano, Texas.