March 21, 2004 by

Brian Maxwell


Categories: Business, Sports

Brian Maxwell, a former world-class marathon runner and the founder of the multimillion-dollar PowerBar empire, died on March 19 from a heart attack. He was 51.
Although Maxwell was born in London, he grew up in Toronto and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975 with a degree in architecture. He was an outstanding student athlete on the school’s track team who went on to represent Canada in many international competitions as a long-distance runner. Once ranked the No. 3 marathon runner in the world by Track and Field News, Maxwell served as a member of Canada’s Olympic track team when it boycotted the Moscow Games in 1980.
Maxwell invented the PowerBar after he was forced to drop out of a 26.2-mile marathon race at the 21-mile mark. He did some research and learned that was the point where the body ceased burning carbohydrates and began burning muscle tissue. So he and his wife, Jennifer, worked to devise a portable, tasty source of energy. They began selling PowerBars out of their kitchen in 1987. Within a decade, the popular energy bar company grew to $150 million in sales and 300 employees. They sold the company to Nestle SA in 2000 for a reported $375 million.
In the final years of his life, Maxwell sat on the board of directors of Coolsystems Inc., a sports medical device startup in Berkeley, Calif.

7 Responses to Brian Maxwell

  1. Shawn Chouinard

    I worked for Brian for over six years. At one time I was the warehouse supervisor for PowerBar. I had the privlage in knowing his Mom an Dad, wife and some of thier children and a neise. They all are very nice and caring people. Brian had an open door policy. He was always willing to talk to people and hear any concerns that they had or ideas. He cared about his employees and I am shocked and sadden to hear about his death. The world has truly lost a kind, compasionate, forgiving and caring man.
    Brian you will truly be missed.
    Jennifer, May Jesus send the Holy Spirit to comfort you and the children during your time of loss. My church and I will be praying for you all. Please call if I can do anything to help. 916-331-2816.
    Respectfully Submitted,
    Shawn Chouinard

  2. Alan Winship

    Having worked with Brian for 3 years at PowerBar, I have great memories of my time there (and running with Brian). It was obvious to me that Brian really cared for his family, employees and his company and was a very generous and caring man with his time and resources. My one regret was that I didn’t contact Brian after he sold PowerBar to just tell him how much I appreciated him. He will be greatly missed! Jennifer: My thoughts and prayers to the Lord (Matthew 11: 28-30) are with you at this time – Alan

  3. Russ Williams

    When my eldest son was a 13 year old Junior mt. bike racer on the GIANT Team, Brian took a chance and sponsored him. Chris had a great relationship with Brian and PowerBar. He learned aspects of business and dealing with people that he has put to good use in his business even today.
    Our family appreciates Brian and will remember him with fondness.

  4. Mike Porter

    I don’t know a thing about Power Bars…as they came long after my time knowing the Runner Brian.
    Tough, gritty, bemused, accepting, patient, focused determination….and a willingness to give it a go…Win or lose – we would always run again. I have raced him on the streets and in the sand…and now I wonder how it is his time is over so soon but his time has moved on and his feet will run no more…May Brian rest in Peace.

  5. Tim Graney

    I first met Brian back in 1978 at my running store in San Francisco. He had designed a shoe for Nike called the LD 1000. Unfortunately the shoe only worked for Brian and not too many other folks. He was such a great runner and competitor. I also remember him being quite a voracious eater. When he was training it would not be uncommon to see him with a hot dog in one hand and an ice cream bar in the other and washing it all down with a beer. He was intense and very bright. I am saddened to hear of his passing. Rest in Peace.

  6. Jeff Knight

    I was a partner/President in FiBar/Natural Nectar, which was a competitor to PowerBar. I believe our two companies trail blazed mass merchandiser’s for the natural food industry. Brian was a true inspiration/pioneer to anyone entering the nutritional sanck bar category. As we use to say in the biz,”PowerBar was nexus, and Brian the crusader. Great competitor, greater man.
    Jeff Knight

  7. John-Hans Melcher

    Brian sent me a personal letter after I sent him a ‘hard’ piece of a PowerBar that almost cracked my tooth. He explained how the ‘hard’ pieces on the belt sometimes sneak in a bar….and then included 4 PowerBars along with his communication.
    This man took the time for people. What more can we ask for? I hope I can emulate his spirit. Even tho it is 2009 now….I still remember his caring for a single customer, Me.
    John-Hans Melcher
    Santa Fe, NM

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