Meet Matt Wills, Creative Services Manager | Torani
Torani Team Member Since: 1998
When you see Torani on the grocery store shelf or a roadside billboard, you can bet Matt Wills, Torani’s Creative Services Manager, had a helping hand in the branding and design.
Growing with the company for more than two decades, Matt is a real OG. We talked to him to learn more about his lifetime with Torani and why he still loves being part of the team.
A Little About Matt
What is your role at Torani?
I’m the creative services manager here at Torani. I originally replied to an ad in the newspaper … back when ads were in newspapers.
What was it that drew you to Torani as a company?
It applied to the marketing coordinator position because the first word of the ad was “fun” -- it read “fun beverage company” -- and you don’t see that too often. I definitely think we were -- we are -- fun and very different than other companies..
How long have you been in your current creative services role?
I was marketing coordinator for a couple of years when I ran something called the Barista Cup, a competition that Torani sponsored every year at the SCAA conference. When we phased that out after a few years, my job started shifting to other needs toward the more creative side.
My minor is in Art Studios so I always wanted to keep that active.
What’s your favorite Torani flavor these days?
Pink Grapefruit Soda. We still make it for Japan. It came out the same year I started here, and it’s sweeter than Ruby Red Grapefruit. You can do a lot with it, too. I make vinaigrette dressing with it all the time. It’s just olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, pepper … it’s really good. It was a recipe from one of our cookbooks from years ago.
How big was the company when you first started?
I think it was between 35 and 40 people. We were very small; we were much smaller back in 1998. We were expanding and we were just beginning to go international. We were heavy in the cafe period of our history and we hadn’t quite delved into retail too much, not to what we are now.
What’s it like working with Torani’s marketing team?
Our marketing team is great. But because we’re growing my challenge is to manage expectations around timing and delivery, or if we need to source additional help from our agency partners, etc. But our marketing team is really great about giving me the time I need to give them what they need.
What do you like most about working here?
We’ve grown and changed a lot since I started here, but we’ve kept the core values.
What are your thoughts on the leadership team?
They’ve led us in a whole different direction. It’s not the same company I started with and a lot of that is because of our current leadership team, and pushing us, we just had to grow and change with the times.
What does the community team do?
Lisa, our principal, heads up the community team. We engage people in both the Torani community and the community we’re in.
We develop clean up days where we’ll clean up Golden Gate Park. We’ll march in the Italian Heritage Day Parade in North Beach. Or we’ll do a pie day auction to raise money for local charities. Marketing will volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club at Christmas time, and do arts and crafts with the kids. Torani is very committed to giving back to the community.
What’s your favorite event here at Torani?
Our holiday events are pretty amazing. We’ve done scavenger hunts through North Beach, we’ve done walking tours of Knob Hill, we’ve gone up to the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone in Calistoga.
We also mark milestones for people who’ve been here for 5, 10, 15 years. Those are a lot of fun. They’re a great way for everybody to step away from the office and come together as a team and celebrate the year.
How has working here changed you?
Personally, I definitely have been able to grow and expand creatively. My job started as a marketing coordinator and everybody was Mac based at the time. We were switching over to PCs and I asked to have the Mac stay on my desk.
I learned all the programs, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark was the layout program at the time. As I learned more and more things, I was able to expand my role and develop my creative side, too.
What gets you excited about coming to work?
No two days are alike. There are days when I’m designing recipe booklets, and other days I’m on photoshoot sets, or I’m doing video or social media … it’s a lot of variety. It’s never boring.
What motivates you to come to work at Torani every day?
They talk a lot about growth and they really do support it. They want us to grow personally and professionally as a team, which is great. They’re very supportive.
There are a lot of opportunities for job advancement and movement between departments. Lots of opportunities to learn new skills. And they encourage a good work/life balance as well.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
So many of my projects have such a long lead time … sometimes it’s a couple of years we’re working on packaging ...so I think it’s really rewarding when it all comes to fruition. When you see the first production come off the line or when you see the product officially launched out there, that’s really satisfying to see.
How have your flavor preferences changed over the years?
I’ve learned a lot about the tasting process here, and the different things they look for. I’ve enjoyed learning about the different nuances in flavor and being able to talk about the flavors. I’d say my palate has gotten more sophisticated over the years working here.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?
The move to the new building is another thing that we’re working on right now, and I’m heavily involved in the design of it. That’s going to change us again. We have grown so much and I think this will be the next big thing. I can’t even say where we’ll be in the next 5 to 10 years.
What about Torani’s future excites you?
We know we’re going to grow, but I think there is a lot of unknown right now and you never know what’s next. We just launched Puremade, and every time we launch a new product, there’s a lot of potential in that.