If you’re going to take on some of the biggest companies in the coffee business, it helps to have a TV star at your side.
Colombian-American actress Sofia Vergara will play a crucial role as Newton-based SharkNinja expands into a new product line, home coffee makers, with the creation of its “Ninja Coffee Bar.”
The move represents a major evolution for a company known for its vacuum cleaners and blenders. (The firm recently changed its name from Euro-Pro to SharkNinja.)
Vergara is scheduled to appear in 30-second TV ads that will run nationwide, starting in November. And she’ll appear with SharkNinja chief executive Mark Rosenzweig in 30-minute infomercials.
“Early on in the development process, we reached out to her,” SharkNinja president Mark Barrocas said. “Sofia definitely had input on what she liked, [including] recipe development and in brainstorming what coffee means to her and how we can take some of those elements and bring them to the consumer.”
Barrocas said the goal behind the Ninja Coffee Bar was to create an appliance that could brew up a variety of coffee drinks in any size, including iced coffees and cappuccinos. The Coffee Bar will arrive in major retail chains this month, with prices starting at $140.
The company had an engineering team in Newton that toiled away in secret on the Coffee Bar for more than two years, Barrocas said. This launch is one reason why SharkNinja expects to expand its Boston-area workforce from about 400 today to more than 500 by the end of 2016, when it plans to relocate its headquarters to Needham.
Barrocas didn’t name Keurig Green Mountain explicitly, although it’s clear that he has that other New England company, known for its pod-based coffee systems, in his sights. — JON CHESTO
Rodman’s literary ride
“Businessman” and “philanthropist” are the descriptors that usually accompany Donald E. Rodman’s name. Now he can add “author” to that list.
Rodman — owner of Rodman Ford in Foxborough and founder of Rodman Ride for Kids , a charity fund-raiser now in its 25th year — has a book out this month describing his evolution from a poor kid growing up in Depression-era Dorchester to a man knighted by Pope John Paul II for his many charitable deeds.
“Philanthropy is not a world restricted to older, wealthy people,” Rodman writes. “It’s as simple as sharing what you have — whether that’s your time, your shoulder, your skills, a service, money, or your heart.”
Published by Millis-based Three Bean Press, “Rodman’s Ride and Other Stories of Giving” includes chapters on other philanthropically spirited Bostonians.
Among them: Jack Connors and Karen Kaplan of Hill Holliday , the Patriots’ Ron Burton, the Celtics’ Larry Bird, and the Bruins’ Bobby Orr.
The foreword is written by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who notes that Rodman, 84, is a longtime supporter of Catholic Charities.
Proceeds will be donated to the Marilyn Rodman Theater for Kids program, named for his late wife, and copies are being donated to high schools and colleges. — SACHA PFEIFFER
A first at bar association
Bob Harnais, who on Tuesday officially takes the helm as the first Hispanic attorney to lead the Massachusetts Bar Association, thinks the legal profession has a lot to learn from football, of all things.
“You see two teams battling it out . . . and at the end they shake hands,” said Harnais, who spent years coaching football and working as a high school referee. “When lawyers start taking things personally, it compromises our profession.”
The former linebacker for the semi-professional Randolph Oilers (“in the leather helmet days,” while he was taking night classes at New England Law in Boston) said one of his missions as president is to instill more civility in his profession. He also plans to continue the association’s work to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes, noting that people with no way to get out early aren’t motivated to improve themselves while they are incarcerated.
Harnais, 53, a first-generation American born to Argentine parents, grew up speaking Spanish and is a general practitioner at Mahoney & Harnais in Quincy.
His historic election, following other positions on the bar association leadership team, reflects the growing Hispanic population in Massachusetts and in the legal profession, Harnais said.
“Whenever you’re the first of anything,” he said, “you open the door for people behind you.” — KATIE JOHNSTON
Hospital loses executive
When the leaders at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center decided to go big into accountable care, they put Christina Severin in charge.
For two years, Severin led the Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization — a network of doctors and hospitals who contract together under accountable care insurance plans. These plans are designed to save money and improve health outcomes by carefully managing patient care.
The approach appears to be working. Beth Israel Deaconess says it saved $50 million in three years by managing care for seniors on Medicare. But Severin has moved on.
“I made the difficult decision to leave BIDCO so that I could refocus the majority of my professional efforts on underserved populations and addressing the medical and non-medical issues that disproportionately impact vulnerable populations,” Severin said by e-mail.
Though she has yet to take a new job since leaving in July, that kind of work would bring Severin close to her past. She is the former president of Network Health , a subsidiary of Tufts Health Plan that primarily serves people who have low incomes.
BIDCO promoted chief financial officer Jeffrey Hulburt to interim CEO. — PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY
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