People Moves: Dogfish Head CEO to Depart; Surly’s Head of Brewing Operations Steps Down

Nick Benz to Exit Dogfish Head


Dogfish Head CEO Nick Benz outside of the brewery

After 13 years at one of the country’s highest-profile craft breweries, Dogfish Head CEO Nick Benz will depart the organization at the end of the year, the company announced today.

Brewery founder and chairman Sam Calagione will takeover as CEO following Benz’s departure and, unlike other U.S. breweries who have recently gone through their own executive transitions, Dogfish Head will not look outside of the organization for a new CEO. Instead, the company has tapped a headhunting firm that will begin searching for a new president this week, Calagione told Brewbound.

“We are looking for someone who can be an awesome thought leader,” Calagione said.

Benz, who was named CEO just two years ago and previously served as the company’s COO and CFO, plans to spend more time with his family and travel throughout Belgium, Calagione said. He will also continue to consult with the company on a part-time basis in 2017, Calagione added.

“Nick has played an incredibly important role as a leader and brilliant business mind helping us grow in our own intentionally off-centered direction,” he wrote in a note. “His legacy is rich with accomplishments from overseeing the physical expansion of our state-of-the-art brewery to his stewardship of our collaborative culture. I think his greatest accomplishment has been nurturing, motivating, and growing the most talented and awesome team of leaders we have ever had in our 21 years.”

As CEO, Calagione said his immediate priorities would be to identify a new president and shift day-to-day focus away from areas such as new product development and brand ambassadorship to engage more closely with VP of Sales Todd Bolig and VP of Marketing Neal Stewart.

“As we build our 2017 plan around our innovative products and amazing people, I can honestly say I have never been more excited for the future of Dogfish than I am right now,” he said.


Dogfish Head’s Neal Stewart enjoys 60 Minute IPA from the can (via Neal Stewart Instagram)

That future includes completely redesigned branding for core offerings like 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA and Indian Brown Ale, among others, and new aluminum packages for 60 Minute, Flesh & Blood IPA and SeaQuench Ale.

“Our packaging had this feel of a library that had a bunch of interesting books, but maybe they weren’t organized in the most interesting way,” Stewart told Brewbound during an August interview. “We spent time looking at how the brand was representing itself on the shelf and we organized it to fit the craft consumer that we have today.”

And to help push the refreshed packages in 2017, Calagione said more than 50 new salespeople have been hired, including seven individuals specifically hired to call on larger chain accounts. The company also plans to open a number of new domestic markets in 2017, and explore export opportunities, he added.

“We have pretty much tripled our sales force in 2016 and we are committed to a year of strong growth in 2017,” he said.

Sales will still be flat in 2016, Calagione added, but some the company’s distributors are forecasting growth of between 9 and 17 percent for the Dogfish Head brand next year.

Surly’s Todd Haug Resigns

Minnesota’s Surly Brewing today announced that Todd Haug, the company’s head of brewing operations, has resigned after more than 10 years with the organization.

Haug will depart Surly to pursue “other opportunities and challenges in the industry,” the company said.

“Todd has been an incredibly influential part of Surly since the beginning and was instrumental in building the brewery from the ground-up, often with his own two hands; brewing, welding, making connections and forming collaborations to establish the irreverent brand it is today,” founder Omar Ansari wrote. “His talent is undeniable, and he will always be a huge part of who we are. He will be missed.”

Tony Bowker Joins Bank of the West’s Beverage Group

Bank of the West’s Beverage Group has added Tony Bowker to its roster.

Bowker is the former president of Virtue Cider and helped oversee that company’s sale to Anheuser-Busch InBev. He previously served as COO and CFO at Goose Island, and he has served on A-B InBev’s Craft Advisory Board.

His new duties call for him to “focus on building relationships with breweries, distributors, and beer clients to identify and support their business banking needs.”

“Tony’s knowledge and depth of expertise in working with and providing guidance to those in the beer industry will help grow this segment of our Beverage Group,” Adam Beak, head of the Beverage Group said in a release.

Editor’s Note: Brewbound assistant editor Justin Kendall contributed to this report.