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Lifeway Foods CEO Preps for the Post-Greek Yogurt Boom

Have you read Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In? Thoughts?

Smolyansky: I've read parts of it, but I think it's absolutely true. I think it's important that we do create female titans. I think we need more women in Fortune 500 companies in the CEO [position] and the C-suite. We have to do that. We have to push that middle management of females up into the C-suite.

What's next for Lifeway?

Smolyansky: We are launching in the U.K. That's our big initiative, so we're launching in London at Harvey Nichols in May. On the horizon, I talked about those long-term goals. I really see Lifeway as being a global brand. That's one thing, but we've also launched a series of other new products just in the last couple of months, offering more of these healthy products for kids. I really see that as a problem for kids and families right now. Those are the big things and looking to just expand our distribution into places that don't normally see them. Hotel minibars would be a huge opportunity for us.

It sounds like you could be an acquisition target at some point.

Smolyansky: I'm young and my brother's young, so I think we still have a lot of things that we can bring to the table at Lifeway that I think we're looking at things out of the box. I think we're doing things that the big companies are only dreaming of doing and we're doing it really quickly and nimbly.

[Some companies], it takes them five years to launch anything new. I think they're super late to the table and I think it's been proven. I don't want to name names, but if you look at some of the big companies in the yogurt category, they were blindsided by the success of Greek yogurt and had their market share taken away. So I don't think that just because you're a big company, that that's something of value. It might be the biggest hindrance.

We were one of the first companies and brands on social media. We were on Facebook and Twitter in 2007 when it was only Whole Foods, Comcast (CMCSA) and Starbucks (SBUX) on social media. That's been a huge benefit to us. These companies are just now starting to develop their social media strategies.

I think as long as they can continue to provide a really good value to shareholders, there's no reason why we should consider selling at this point. We're being asked by the big companies to help them. So it's been interesting.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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