Crunch Time At Quaker Oats

Is there time for Smithburg to solve the Snapple mess?

Nearly 20 years ago, fast-track Quaker Oats Co. exec William D. Smithburg was content to borrow his boss's Colorado townhouse for ski trips with the eclectic group of friends he calls the A-Team. These days, the group still skis together, but its trips have become more daring. Instead of riding the chairlifts at Vail, the A-Team helicopters to remote peaks in British Columbia. And while these old buddies are careful not to get too competitive, the gung-ho, 58-year-old Smithburg usually takes the lead. "There's some pride in keeping at the front, and he's out front," says Chicago ad man and A-Team member F. Byron Nahser.

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