2023 Utah Business Leaders of the Year: Nicole Tanner
Founder | Swig
Utah Business is proud to present the inaugural cohort of our Utah Business Leaders of the Year award. These 12 honorees represent the greatest accomplishments of Utah’s business community in 2023 and were selected by the Utah Business editorial team.
It seems as if you can’t drive through any city in Utah without passing at least one Swig along the way—and soon, that’ll be true in other states, as well. In August 2023, Swig announced the successful signing of 250 franchise units across seven new markets just six months after launching multi-unit franchising in February.
It’s safe to say that the company—and founder Nicole Tanner’s role in it—has changed a great deal since the early days when she worked the drive-thru line herself and took orders on sticky notes.
“We’re so much more than a drink company. We’re sometimes the best part of a person’s day,” Tanner says.
She points to 2020 as the year that Swig really took off. During COVID-19, Swig’s drive-thru remained open. “Sometimes, we were the only human contact people had,” Tanner says. “They got out of their houses to get their Swig drink. We grew so much in 2020 and were very fortunate.”
2020 also marked the first year of Swig’s “Save the Cups” campaign, a give-back initiative where proceeds from certain drinks are put into a fund to help those dealing with the high medical bills associated with fighting breast cancer. The “Save the Cups” campaign has raised over $1 million, with the company raising over $300,000 in October 2023—the campaign’s most successful month to date.
“We’re so much more than a drink company. We’re sometimes the best part of a person’s day.”
It’s a cause near and dear to Nicole’s heart.
“I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer when I was just 37,” she says. “A friend of mine suggested I get my first mammogram out of the blue, and after putting her off for quite some time, I got one. I was lucky I did because my cancer does not respond to treatment. I was able to get surgery to remove it because we caught it so soon, which saved my life. … That’s why we’re so much more than a drink company. We’ve created this amazing movement, and I’m so grateful we can be a part of it—to help out others so authentically.”
It’s been win after win for Swig. In November 2022, The Larry H. Miller Company acquired a 75 percent stake in the drive-thru beverage chain “for nine figures,” according to Savory Restaurant Fund’s Andrew Smith. With 420 total franchise units sold at the time of this writing (and a goal to reach 500 by the end of 2023), it’s only onward and upward from here.
“There’s a lot that goes into opening a business. There’s a lot of sacrifice with your family and your time and a lot of scary moments along the way, but 2023 made it worth it. It’s the year I’ve hoped and dreamed for.”