Blake’s Hard Cider Continues Growth in 2020 and Names Chief Operating Officer

ARMADA, Mich. — Blake’s Hard Cider (BHC), one of the fastest-growing cideries in the U.S., and largest in the Midwest, continues to report record sales growth, despite COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders in all of BHC’s distribution markets.

BHC finished the first quarter of 2020 up more than 60 percent in sales and up over 62 percent in hard cider shipments. According to IRI data through the end of March, Blake’s has the best dollar growth trend for all Top 20 U.S. hard cider companies. IRI data also reveals BHC is up 94 percent with national and regional chains and 59 percent with independent retailers. Despite the COVID-19 crisis closing all retail establishments in Blake’s footprint, BHC’s market sales growth is up more than 30 percent since shelter-in-place orders were issued in mid-March.

“The times we are currently experiencing have a way of focusing everyone on what truly matters in life and in business,” said Andrew Blake, President of Blake’s Family of Companies, which comprises BHC and Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill. “I am proud of the way the team has adjusted. Thanks to online shipping and our distributor and retail partners our fans are still able to enjoy their favorite ciders. At the orchard, the team has worked tirelessly to support our local community by producing hand sanitizer, providing free meals to school children in need, offering drive-thru pickup and supplying unique offerings like cider mill baked goods and our popular farm share program.”

To support the rapid growth, Robert Sharpe has joined the Blake Family of Companies as its chief operating officer and steps into his new role effective immediately. His day-to-day responsibilities will include by not limited to, designing and implementing business operations, establishing policies that promote company culture and vision and overseeing operations of the company and the work of executives.

Sharpe brings extensive consulting and executive leadership experience in the global food and beverage industry. With an expertise in operations, growth strategy and supply chain optimization, Sharpe recently served on the Blake’s Board of Directors. He also founded TriPower Capital and SharpeView Ventures, companies in which its principals invested time and capital in companies requiring additional strategic growth or turnaround consulting.

Prior to his most recent work, Sharpe was chief operating officer of Kabbage, Inc., an automated business funding platform. He has also held several c-suite positions within global consumer goods and marketing companies including president, COO, CEO and board member. Sharpe also brings more than 10 years of experience in the corporate finance and commercial banking industry. He has been actively engaged in philanthropic causes throughout his career and currently serves on the board of Isdell Center for Global Leadership.

“Together with my brother, Pete, we believe that Bob’s experience and guidance will be one of the final pieces to help us maximize and support the amazing talent of all of our truly valued employees,” said Paul Blake, co-founder of Blake’s Family of Companies. “From the family’s perspective, we know our company has grown to a point that our team needs and deserves the structured leadership and guidance Bob will provide in order to achieve our vision for the Blake Family of Companies. We are truly blessed to have him join us.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join the Blake’s team in this leadership role. The company is experiencing dynamic growth in all aspects and I look forward to using my skill set to make an impact on the continued success of the company,” said Sharpe. “The Blake’s team has created a performance culture with tremendous respect for each other. Blake’s has a unique authenticity, connection to the community, approach to being good stewards of the land, and I look forward to helping accelerate the momentum they already have going.”

At one time in his career, Sharpe notes he spent time as a hog farmer and looks forward to working at the orchard in Armada. He considers himself a food and drink purist and as such, his favorite Blake’s Hard Cider is Lite Apple Classic.

A graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in finance, Sharpe also holds a Master’s of Business Administration from George Washington University.

Established in 2013, Blake’s Hard Cider is an independent, family-owned and operated craft cidery and the largest in the Midwest. Grown, brewed and packaged entirely on an 800-acre orchard in Armada, MI, Blake’s Hard Cider was founded on the value of its almost 75-year farming history.

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