A Conversation With New Iron City President, Ed Lozano

PITTSBURGH, PA – It was announced yesterday that the historic Iron City Brewing Company out of Pittsburgh was acquired by Uni-World Capital, a private equity firm from New York.

Brewbound was able to chat with the new President of Iron City, Ed Lozano, who brings 15 years of experience from both the Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic world. Lozano most recently spent six years with PepsiCo, and prior to that worked with Miller Brewing Co.

He commented on his plan for Iron City Brewing going forward, their marketing approach and even the potential to acquire or partner with other breweries.

Brewbound: How is your background going to help Iron City?

Ed Lozano: I know how a big beer city works. I worked in Miller’s corporate headquarters and worked on sales, reorganization task force etc so I got a very good understanding of how a national organization works. I have a city experience, a national experience and an international experience with Miller as well. I think my background, both small and large market, US and international sales and marketing, positions me well to help Iron City grow its business. I am going to pull from all of those experiences.

BB: What are some of your plans for growth with Iron City?

EL: When we were looking to acquire this business, we said, with the appropriate investment, and with the right marketing strategy and with wholesalers that are committed to managing and delivering fresh beer, we can turn this business into a tremendous growth opportunity. The way we are going to do that is A. Focus on core brands IC light and Iron City and refresh those brands and make them a little more relevant to the next generation of consumers. Once we come up with a strong marketing campaign, we are going to make sure that we invest appropriately so that consumers can see and feel the marketing and get reconnected with the brand. Job two is to take the other brands in the portfolio and invest behind them and accelerate their growth. The third area is that we will be exploring new beers in the mainstream category and the craft beer category. We will ramp that up in 2012. We will also selectively be looking at strategic merger and acquisition opportunities. We are open to mergers and acquisitions that make long term sense for a business.

BB: So you might try and acquire another brewery then?

EL: We will be looking at any business opportunity that makes sense for Pittsburgh and our investors.

BB: It sounds like you will start rebuilding regionally within Pittsburgh.

EL: Yea, we are not going to over-commit ourselves at the onset. We are going to focus on our home territory and make sure that Iron City and IC light are winning and are achieving the share that they deserve and that they had in the city of Pittsburgh and then we will look at expanding beyond that. We really want to ensure that we are a success in Pittsburgh.

BB: While the core brands might be the focal point, are you going to also try and get into the craft category?

EL: We are going to explore developing good craft beers. I am going to focus on marketing our core brands while our brewmaster develops craft beers. Don’t be surprised if in the next 6-12 months if you hear Iron City Brewing Co marketing some super-High Quality craft beers locally and possibly beyond. The state of pennsylvania has a tremendous amount of high quality craft brewers. Yes, it is a growing part of the business and we have a tremendous brewmaster who will be developing high quality craft beers in the near future.

BB: What key markets are you going to zero in on?

EL: Right now, (outside of Pennsylvania) west Virginia, Ohio, Carolinas and Maryland. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic areas. That is where we are going to focus.

BB: It seemed, for a while, like Iron City might not be around much longer. How do you feel about taking over?

EL: Well, I can tell you that I am inheriting a business that has had its challenges. I think that with the right strategy, marketing investment and rebuilding relationships with wholesalers, and supporting them- I think we are going to be in good shape. Hopefully in six months to a year from now, if we speak again, I will be able to confirm that we are on our way to growing the business.

BB: How are you going to get consumers to drink your beer?

EL: We have very strong distribution to begin with. The Iron City beer name is very well known here in the Pittsburgh region. What we need to do is remind the consumer, through marketing and investments, that the brand is here and available and its as good as it ever was. We are going to be very visible to the consumer going forward. With regards to the craft segment, we are conducting research to make sure we have our finger on the pulse of what consumers are looking for. I think they will be advising us on what they would like to see out of Iron City. They will probably provide insight, suggestions and ideas on other products they would like to see out of the Iron City Brewing Company.

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