People who drink Reed’s Ginger Brew have long been telling Chris Reed that his beverage cures what ails them.

“For years we have been hearing from our customers on how they use our Ginger Brew to treat health conditions,” said Reed, founder and chief executive of Reed’s Inc. “We’ve spoken to customers using our drinks for motion sickness, food poisoning, migraines, morning sickness, irritable bowel syndrome and even autism.”

So now he’s starting to market his miracle drink accordingly. Reed announced last week that the Rosewood soda manufacturing company will be selling a four-pack of small cans of the Ginger Brew as an alternative health product that will compete with over-the-counter drugs at pharmacy chains and stores nationwide.

Reed said the company will soon start manufacturing the four-packs for distribution in late February to early March. The package will hold a quartet of 5.5 ounce cans of the brew in a cardboard package that will be stocked next to other supplemental alternative health items offered such as Airborne. Like its competition, Ginger Brew can’t advertise it can cure any ailment, but the company is allowed to claim that the beverage is a healthful soda.

In a separate development, Reed’s is doubling the capacity of its bottling plant in anticipation of new business from private-label customers. Increased demand will allow the company to realize as much as $7.5 million in additional annual profits, Reed said.

He also said that two major supermarket chains are starting to get shipments of private-label sodas the company is making for them, and that he hopes to grow the company by 100 percent in 2010 mainly through private-label sales with other supermarket chains. Those negotiations are under way.

In addition to that, the company, which currently sells sodas in 10,500 natural foods and mainstream supermarkets, is expanding its foreign distribution. Reed’s has 11 countries on its roster, most recently adding Israel and South Africa.

Services Merger

Calabasas engineering services provider National Technical Systems Inc. last week announced its NQA division had completed the acquisition of a Virginia supply chain management services provider, Unitek Technical Services Inc.

Terms of the all-cash transaction by the company’s NQA division were not disclosed, but Chief Executive William C. McGinnis said the acquisition represents about $6 million to $8 million in expected revenue and grows the company by 7 percent.

“This is our first step into the supply chain management business, one of many more we hope with acquisitions moving forward,” McGinnis told the Business Journal. He said the acquisition will expand the company’s business from testing and quality control to logistics.

“What this does is allow us to not only test products and audit product quality control for our clients, but also now help our clients with issues in getting items from their suppliers for assembling their final products,” he said.

Unitek, which was a unit of French firm Bureau Veritas, will remain in Centreville, Va., near Washington, D.C. Current management and employees are expected to remain with the firm. Its logistics clients include aerospace and defense suppliers.

Shares closed Dec. 10 at $5.30, down 2 percent since the announcement Dec. 7.

Satellites Soaring

Commercial business is ramping up at Boeing Co.’s main satellite manufacturing facility in El Segundo after years of decline.

The latest trend continues the pendulum cycle the facility has experienced over the past two decades.

In the 1990s, the majority of the facility’s sales went to commercial clients, but this past decade about 90 percent of its business came from military and government contracts.

Now, more private companies want to launch satellites for telecommunications and digital television operations, said Steve O’Neill, vice president in charge of Boeing’s commercial satellite systems.

The company has a backlog of 27 satellites on order. It will take several years to build them, and Boeing expects to see commercial business grow from its current 10 percent to 20 percent by 2015.

Given the shrinking manufacturing sector in Los Angeles, the backlog gives comfort to the 5,000-plus employees who make the satellites, which usually range from $200 million to $350 million each, O’Neill said.

Boeing’s latest satellite delivery also has a local connection, too. The company just sent off its 10th satellite to DirecTV, the satellite broadcaster that’s an El Segundo neighbor. The satellite is set to launch before the end of December.

Jacobs Stimulated

Federal stimulus dollars are still rolling into Southern California infrastructure projects, and some local companies, such as Pasadena-based Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., are getting their share.

Jacobs announced last week that it received a $30 million contract from the Riverside County Transportation Commission for an interchange project at Ortega Highway and the Escondido (215) Freeway in Perris. The construction is funded mostly with federal stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The project will include improvements to the existing interchange. The work includes construction of a new eight-lane overcrossing, widening the ramps to the Escondido Freeway, providing carpool lanes on entrance ramps and constructing sound walls. Work will begin in early 2010 with completion in 2012.

Staff reporter Francisco Vara-Orta can be reached at fvara-orta@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 241.

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