The calendar hasn’t quite flipped to February, and already there have been a number of key transitions at some of the industry’s top beer companies.
Just yesterday, Sweetwater announced that recently appointed CEO Kim Jones had parted ways with the Atlanta-based brewery. Now, out West, longtime New Belgium sales director Joe Menetre is departing the Colorado-headquartered craft brewery after about 18 years, Brewbound has learned.
Menetre will remain with the company as a consultant for an unspecified period of time while current national field sales director Michael Corrigan transitions into the role of national director of sales. Corrigan will continue to oversee national field sales and will also assume leadership of on- and off-premise chain sales.
“Joe has been with New Belgium for 18 years, and during that time has been a valued contributor to our company and a good friend to many of us,” CEO Christine Perich said in a statement. “I’m confident he will be successful as he moves on to other endeavors, and we wish him nothing but the best.
Meanwhile, Adam Lambert, another longtime beer industry sales executive who left Dogfish Head for a position at the smaller New Holland Brewing in December 2014, will depart for Anheuser-Busch InBev this month. Lambert will join Virtue Cider as its vice president of sales on Feb. 15 and report to founder Greg Hall. A-B InBev, via its Goose Island subsidiary, acquired the Michigan-based cidery last September, adding the brand to its growing High End division.
“I am intrigued by what they have going on,” he told Brewbound. “There is a neat play between craft cider and craft beer. It is an interesting piece of the business that I want to sink my teeth into.”
Lambert, who relocated to Michigan upon his departure from Delaware’s Dogfish Head, was instrumental in helping New Holland grow sales by 24 percent in 2015. He also helped the Michigan-based craft brewery retool its look, open four new markets and integrate 29 new distributor in both new and existing markets.
Lambert’s experience managing sales and distribution at outfits like New Holland, Dogfish and Rogue is part of what attracted Anheuser-Busch, and Virtue, said Hall.
“We needed someone to come in and manage sales and Adam was our number one target,” Hall told Brewbound. “That fact that he has been living in Michigan for the last year, sold craft on both coasts — and sold the top end of craft — was huge for us.”
Lambert joins Virtue at a critical time too: the company recently grew production capacity to about 30,000 barrels and began bottling at the Goose Island Brewery in Chicago. Previously a draft-focused operation, Virtue is just beginning to expand its market presence with 750 mL bottles and is also planning to rollout 12 oz. offerings this Spring.
Lambert will oversee sales and distribution management in the 15 or so markets where Virtue products are currently sold. He’ll also work alongside an army of about 200 street reps now focused on selling A-B InBev’s high-end portfolio — which includes the Goose Island, Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Elysian, Golden Road, Breckenridge and Four Peaks craft brands.
“I am an avid learner and a lot of me is excited to see how the high end group and Virtue interacts with the largest beverage company in the world,” he said. “I hate to be leaving New Holland and timing is never perfect, but I am really intrigued to see how a business like ABI runs. Hopefully I can contribute.”
Elsewhere, longtime-beer industry executives at Constellation Brands are transitioning into new roles.
Bill Hackett, who joined the company in 1984 and currently serves as president of its beer division, will take a step back from day-to-day operations and assume the newly created role of “Chairman of Beer.” He will continue to report to Rob Sands, Constellation’s president and CEO, and remain a member of the executive management committee.
In his place, Paul Hetterich, who joined in the company in 1986, has been named president of beer. Bruce Jacobson, who currently serves as chief sales officer for the beer division, has been promoted to chief commercial officer.
And at Boston Beer Company, longtime board member Pearson Cummin, III, 73, will retire from the board on Feb. 10.
Cummin has served as a director of the company since it went public in 1995. According to a press statement, Cummin was an early backer in Boston Beer through the 1987 investment by Connecticut-based venture firm Consumer Venture Partners. He also served on the company’s advisory committee beginning in 1993.
“On behalf of Boston Beer and my fellow Board members, I want to thank Pete for his dedication, vision, and contributions to the company virtually since its inception,” founder and chairman Jim Koch said via a press statement. “Pete has helped guide Boston Beer through significant periods of change, from our days as a fledgling startup, to our initial public offering, and through several periods of tremendous growth. While his presence on the board will be sorely missed, we respect his decision to retire and wish him the very best.”