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Things I Can't Live Without: J. Darius Bikoff

It's hard to explain the necessity of a $50,000 refrigerated car trunk.
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Occupation:Founder and CEO of Queens, N.Y.-based Glacéau, which makes and sells 700 million bottles of Vitaminwater, Smartwater, and Fruitwater a year.

Age and home: 44; New York City.

Annual revenue and employees: $104 million (estimated by Beverage Marketing Corp.); more than 200 full-time and 200 part-time. Healthy H20: In 1996, Bikoff was checking into the purity of bottled water and didn't like that some had contaminants. He decided to create his own distilled water with added electrolytes. The resulting Smartwater, in a sleek bottle designed by Doug Lloyd, became a hit in natural and specialty food stores when it was released in 1998.

Easy to swallow: Bikoff says he got the idea for Vitaminwater while eating a vitamin C wafer. Vitaminwater launched in 2000 and was a crossover success, appealing to customers outside the health-food niche. Today there are 13 varieties, with names such as Power-C, Balance, and Rescue.

Get rich and live healthy tryin': One type of Vitaminwater, Formula 50, has half the recommended daily intake of many vitamins and was developed with Queens native 50 Cent. Shortly after Bikoff saw the star swigging Vitaminwater on television, the two decided to co-create a new flavor; 50 Cent was adamant that the new flavor be grape.

Performance-enhancing drug: Glacéau's latest offering, available since May, is an electrolyte-filled beverage called Perform. Unlike Gatorade, it's sodium-free because, Bikoff says, "there is no magic to salt." Twenty major league baseball players are endorsing Perform, including former All-Stars Jim Thome of the Phillies and Torii Hunter of the Twins.

Things I Can't Live Without

Apple iPod, $399: "My wife got me this to watch slide shows of my baby daughter, and I also use it to stay on top of pop culture. We don't do focus groups, but I take pictures to capture a place, person, or even a vibe. The iPod lets me carry my music and photos at all times."

A custom-made refrigerated car trunk, $50,000: "I carry bottles of our water everywhere, but it's always better served cold. I dreamed up this trunk for my 2005 Mercedes-Benz S600 and had a specialty shop in Queens build it for me."

Lacoste polo shirts, $157 for two: "I try to play tennis four days a week, and I need to look good on and off the court. These were originally designed for tennis and evolved into streetwear."

...and What I Covet

Marquis Jet card, $299,900 for 25 hours on the Gulfstream IV: "As we continue to grow, it would be great to go wherever I want, whenever I want. The transcontinental plan would be the ultimate luxury without having to worry about the problems that come with ownership."

Last updated: Sep 1, 2005




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