Larry Cantrell (BBA 76) has survived the ups and downs of the commercial real estate development business and overseen the founding and proliferation of two successful companies, but the former Rebel offensive lineman gets most excited when talking about the Ole Miss Rebels’ return to Dallas for the 2010 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
For seven years, Cantrell has served on the Cotton Bowl Board of Directors and while it’s a job with both perks and rigorous responsibilities, he couldn’t be happier to see his alma mater’s ball club return to his adopted hometown.
“It’s a very historic occasion,” he said of the impending return trip. “After 73 years of being in Fair Park at the Cotton Bowl Stadium and Ole Miss playing the last game there and now being in the first game in our new stadium, Cowboys Stadium, it’s out with the old and in with the new, and Ole Miss is the one that’s doing that. We think that is a wonderful legacy for Ole Miss and something to be proud of.”
Cantrell was nominated to the board for what was originally a two-year term. But his enthusiastic involvement has seen his spot on the board renewed time after time. He also serves on the Cotton Bowl selection committee. It’s one of the many perks to be able to travel around to officially scout potential teams. But Cantrell says he always makes sure his name is on the list when it comes time to scout Ole Miss.
“I try to get back to Oxford every chance I get,” he said. “I’m a season ticket holder, so I get over there as often as I can.”
One of Cantrell’s many responsibilities is to serve as an official team host. This year he is the official host for Ole Miss. “It’s a real treat for me when Ole Miss is in the Cotton Bowl. It doesn’t get any better than that. “
Cantrell, a Covington, La. native who came to Ole Miss on a football scholarship in 1972, first moved to Dallas upon graduating with a degree in marketing. He entered the high-flying world of commercial real estate development and enjoyed an eventful career. But when the S&L crisis of the 1980s collided with an economic downturn, Cantrell found himself searching for a new line of work.
He connected with Dr. Bill Kellas, founder of The Center For Advanced Medicine in San Diego. Kellas, who holds a PhD in nutritional biochemistry, had developed a dietary supplement that he sold in his clinic, but didn’t have the business acumen to take it to market. That’s where Cantrell came in, as he put together a direct sales program that put the product in the hands of consumers, and supplemented it with sales in various clinics.
“I got in that business thinking it would be a short term thing to support that one product,” Cantrell said. “But the product line grew and the customer base grew. So here we are 14 years later. We’ve brought to market about 35 different health and wellness products, functional foods, dietary supplements and nutriceuticals.”
As the product line grew, the team also developed a patented process to harvest coffee fruit and produce a functional beverage called Sozo from it. The new company, Sozo Global, calls the resultant ingredient “coffeeberry” and decided to build a new company around it.
“Most people just know the bean, they don’t know the fruit,” said Cantrell. “Obviously the market dictates that people pull the fruit off the tree and just rip out the bean. But the fruit that surrounds the bean is a whole cornucopia of nutrition.”
Like most entrepreneurs, Cantrell is prone to speak in excited tones about his company and its prospects. But that level of excitement revs up even more when talking about Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl.