Q & A

Hosana Fieber Takes the Reins at Tervis

We talked to the popular drinkware company's new CEO about her history with Tervis, being a first-generation American and how she likes to spend her free time.

By Elizabeth Djinis February 23, 2024

Hosana Fieber

Hosana Fieber

Newly minted Tervis chief executive officer Hosana Fieber, 44, has come a long way from her early days at the University of Miami, where she planned to pursue a career in medicine only to find that she fainted at the mere sight of blood. College might have ended one potential path for her, but another one—the world of business—awaited.

Fieber is a a first-generation American and the daughter of two Cuban immigrants. She grew up in a family that instilled in her from a young age the value of hard work. She arrived at Tervis in 2009 as its financial planning and analysis manager, steadily ascending through the ranks for almost 10 years before becoming the joint chief operating officer and chief financial officer in 2021. She left the company briefly twice—once to focus on her family and a second time to work as the chief financial officer at Organics Management Holdings in Okahumpka, Florida. But when the Donelly family, which has owned and run Tervis for decades, called her back to lead the business, she says it was almost a no-brainer to take the job. (Former CEO Rogan Donelly, grandson of the company’s founder, has now taken on the role of executive chairman of the board.)

Tervis is almost inseparable from the culture of the Sarasota-Manatee area itself. Founded in 1946, the drinkware business was created based on the inventions of Frank Cotter and G. Howlett Davis, who made the world’s “first permanently sealed, double-walled, insulated tumbler” (and formed a portmanteau of their last names in the process). The brand became one of the first to champion customization in drinkware and steadily grew in popularity.

We recently sat down with Fieber to talk about all things Tervis, her leadership style and what plans she has for the future of the beloved company. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You’ve had a long history with Tervis. What brought you to the company initially?

 "I’ve always been inspired by the brand. I was familiar with the product, loved the quality and found it timeless. But the minute that I walked in the doors at Tervis, the warm, family-like culture drew me right in. I visited from North Carolina and was recruited down.

"My career background is all accounting. I started as a financial planning and analysis manager [at Tervis] and worked my way up the ranks. Since then, I’ve worked very closely with Rogan Donelly, the grandson of the original owners, and with the Donelly family, and they know how committed I am to the company and the shareholders. They saw that our plans for the brand were aligned so they moved me into the next role. The intentions were never to become the CEO, but I’m very proud and very happy."

In a press release, Tervis hailed the start of your tenure as CEO with this line: “The change in leadership comes as a result of the business being poised to enter a significant growth phase.” What might that look like? What are your specific plans for the company? 

"Obviously, the future goals are to continue to grow the brand and the top line of revenue and continue that legacy of quality products. My hyper-focus right now is innovation. We’re really focused on coming out with new products for the next couple of years. That’s going to create that growth.

"Our other focus is where we play best. Wherever you are—at home on the patio, on the golf course—we want to be that drinkware that you’re carrying around. I want to see Tervis everywhere. You can personalize [your Tervis], you can put your favorite team and your name on the product, which was not that common at the time we started doing it. We’ve been around for 77 years, and we’ve gone deeper into personalization and customization."

You left the company twice. What drew you back? 

"I always had a deep and strong affinity for the Tervis brand. Whether I was here or not, I was very passionate about it. When I left this second time, I was invited to stay on the board of directors and I was very connected to the family. I took an opportunity outside of Tervis but was still very much into what was happening at Tervis, being that I was on the board. When I came back [as CEO], people said, ‘You’re back home, welcome back,’ as if I had just gone to college and come back."

On a personal level, what does it feel like to take over the top role in a legacy brand, particularly one so well-known in the Sarasota-Manatee area? 

"It was nerve-wracking. It’s such a loved and known brand that there is a lot of pressure that comes with that. I take that very seriously—to live up to what that is every day."

You’re a first-generation American, the child of Cuban immigrants. How has your background informed your business sense? 

"Coming from an immigrant family, we are pro-USA to the 10th power. It is one of those things that was ingrained in me as a child: You live with the freedom to do whatever you want, so don’t take it for granted. That’s more driven me personally than anything else. You want to wake up every day and know that you’re fulfilling your life’s meaning.

"My parents were immigrants and they each worked two jobs. We were not neglected because of it—it brought us really close together, and I learned from them that hard work gets you where you want to go. I also learned from my dad to work smarter, not harder, in some areas, and to make sure you do the homework before you go down a path. I always make a decision with a plan behind it."

You studied biology at University of Miami and planned to be pre-med. How has the path you planned for changed over the years? 

"My vision was always to be a pediatrician, to have my own office, run my own calendar and be my own boss—not necessarily to go into a hospital and work there for the rest of my life. But fainting [when I saw blood] made it impossible to continue with that career. So I shifted into business."

Have you had mentors who have shaped your thinking and your career? 

"I learn something from every single person I have a conversation with. In 2019, I was so grateful to be a part of the International Women’s Forum Leadership Fellows Program—it was life-changing to rub elbows with [a small group of] women from all over the world who were leading companies. I have really taken that entire group to be mentors of mine that I lean into depending on what is going on.

"I’m also on the board of the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and I’ve learned so much from president and CEO Teri Hansen on a day-to-day basis. I love her leadership style—she’s very recognized and respected in the community, and I think of her as one of my closest mentors."

How would you characterize your leadership style? 

"I’m aware that things that I say will cause a reaction in people, especially in employees. I’m careful with words, and one of the things that I have grown to respect about myself the most is that I like to be transparent. I’m a very honest person, and if I’m being asked a question, I want to be able to answer it as transparently as possible. I have to be careful with the words that I use so that they’re not too harsh—or not harsh enough. I think about [my leadership style] every day. How I lead people is not something I will ever be done thinking about. It’s an everyday evolution." 

When you’re not working, what do you like to do for fun? 

"I have four kids, so the majority of my time when I’m not working is spent with the kids at their sport activities. Because it’s so noisy when we are in our day-to-day life, we like to travel a lot. That’s the time where we create the most memories. It’s just the six of us and we do things together, and there are no friends or external influences in the room.

"Walking, to me, is the best time to just clear my mind and focus on things like my body and what I am feeling, but I also love to cuddle up with a book. I love to end my evenings with a good book."

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