Local Teen-Owned Business Gains Momentum, Teams with Vending Company

HERMITAGE, Pa. — With the cut of a ribbon Tuesday, 17-year-old Cynthia Torrence will see her Niu by Talls low-sugar juice drink available in Dean Natural Vending machines.

The two local businesses collaborated on the project after Dean Natural Vending learned about Torrence, CEO of Niu by Talls, in an article by The Business Journal. Following months of discussions, organization and production, Niu will now be offered in Dean Natural Vending machines in 50 locations, said Robert Dean, co-owner and CEO of Dean Natural Vending.

“I’m so excited,” Torrence said.

The name comes from the Hawaiian word for coconut, which is the main ingredient of the three flavors: Tropical Berry, Tropical FlaMingo and Tropical Eden. The coconut water-based beverage is sweetened with stevia leaves, strawberries, pineapples, apples and lemons.

Cynthia Torrence, CEO of Niu by Talls.

Giving Torrence a starting point to offer her drinks, which are low-sugar and low-calorie, is a good fit for the vending company, Dean said. He’s optimistic consumers will be enthusiastic about the drink. 

“It’s one of the best, if not the best” healthy beverage Dean’s has ever stocked, he said.

Both companies have experienced growth over the last year, even through the pandemic. As Niu by Talls began working with Dean Natural Vending, the vending company doubled in size. Today, there are 16 employees who work out of the 25,000-square foot facility at 3100 Prosperity Place.

Recently, crews have wrapped up an 11,000-square-foot expansion. Between that and work on the original portion of the building, the investment was around $4 million, Dean said.

Niu is backed by a team of women, Torrence said. With the help of her mother April, Torrence said that when she attends university or college in New York or New Jersey, women will continue to operarte the company, and she will still serve as CEO.

Torrence’s entrepreneurship dates to a church fundraiser, when she and her mother created the beverage. It was such a hit that many people asked if she sold it, leading Torrence and her mother to figure out a way to do just that. 

Then in 2016, Torrence was invited to the eCenter@LindenPointe business incubator in Hermitage to take business classes. Eventually, she teamed with New Jersey-based Metabrand, a food and beverage consulting firm that handles production.

Upon their meeting about eight months ago, Dean said he made up his mind quickly to begin carrying Niu.

“We were super impressed with her,” Dean said, noting he made the decision in five minutes.

Going forward, if more young entrepreneurs have a healthful food product, Dean said the company would enjoy helping them out.

To help smaller businesses, Torrence said consumers are encouraged to purchase Niu through the Dean Natural Vending machines or local businesses carrying the beverage, then the company website.

For more information on Dean Natural Vending, visit DeanNaturalVending.com.

For more information on Niu by Talls, visit NiubyTalls.com

Pictured at top: On hand for the ribbon-cutting Tuesday were June Dean, co-owner and purchasing manager for Dean Natural Vending; Robert Dean, co-owner and CEO of Dean Natural Vending; Mercer County Commissioner Scott Boyd; Melinda Gosser, legislator aide for state Sen. Michele Brooks, D-50 Pa.; Anya Smith; Cynthia Torrence, CEO of Niu by Talls; Rochelle Green, guidance counselor at Hickory High School; Robert Hites, vice president of Dean Natural Vending; and Olivia Brown, executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce.