Columbia Distributing, one of the country’s largest beverage wholesalers with operations in Oregon, Washington and California, yesterday announced that CEO Gregg Christiansen would retire in 2018.
“I’ve had a great run,” Christiansen said in a press announcement. “I’ve been fortunate to work in this industry for over 30 years. I’ve worked with very talented people and helped build many excellent brands. Most importantly, I’ve had fun doing it.”
Christiansen, who served as the company’s CEO for the last 15 years, will remain with the company as “board chairman” when he officially retires on January 2, 2018, providing “leadership and direction on short- and long-term business strategies, the company said.
Over the next 18 months, Chris Steffanci, the current president of Columbia Distributing Washington outfit, will take over as CEO of the organization. During the transition period, Steffanci will begin leading Columbia’s entire business — which includes more than 3,000 employees serving over 20,000 retail accounts in Oregon, Washington and recently-acquired territories in California.
“I’m extremely proud to step into this role, and more importantly, I’m honored to partner with Gregg to make this transition a positive one for the entire company,” Steffanci said in the release. “Gregg’s vision and passion for this business, our people and our brands, is how we’ve become one of the most successful distributors in the country.”
Christiansen first joined the Portland, Oregon-headquartered wholesaler in 1996 as the vice president of sales. As CEO, he oversaw the company’s acquisition of California distributor Mesa Beverage, and its own sale to San Francisco-based private equity firm, The Meritage Group LP, in 2012.