CICERO, Ill. — Breakthru Beverage Group has announced the appointment of Melissa Calderwood as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer effective June 1, 2020. Calderwood succeeds industry veteran Gene Luciana, who has served as the company’s Chief Financial Officer since the inception of Breakthru Beverage Group after joining Charmer Sunbelt Group in 1992. Luciana intends to retire later this year but has agreed to serve in a strategic advisory role
for several months to ensure a smooth finance transition and offer guidance to Breakthru leadership on a number of special projects on behalf of the company.
“Gene has been an invaluable member of the beverage alcohol industry for nearly 30 years and we are grateful for his many contributions that have helped shape this industry and launch and grow the Breakthru business,” said Charles Merinoff, Co-Chairman of Breakthru Beverage Group. “His leadership and insights, combined with his commitment to integrity and optimism, have been foundational to our company’s success.”
“Gene’s unparalleled creativity, problem-solving and negotiation skills have driven a number of successful acquisition deals, including the merger between Charmer Sunbelt Group and Wirtz Beverage Group,” added Greg Baird, Breakthru Beverage Group President & CEO. “He has been instrumental in driving the growth and expansion strategy of the Charmer Sunbelt Group and Breakthru Beverage. Under Gene’s watch Breakthru has implemented SAP and a state-of-the-art Mobility platform across the enterprise, among other major strategic initiatives he has championed. I am grateful that Breakthru will continue to benefit from Gene’s expertise during this transitional period and look forward to welcoming Melissa’s strong leadership and diverse financial expertise to this role. I am confident Breakthru will continue to thrive under her direction.”
Calderwood joins Breakthru with 25 years of financial experience across multiple functions, industries and countries. Most recently Calderwood served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of five operational businesses at media and entertainment company, iHeartMedia, including financial and strategic oversight for National Sales, the syndicated Networks and the Live Events business.
Previously, Calderwood held multiple finance and strategy roles at Diageo, including serving as Finance Director for the Catalyst Division, with a portfolio of 27 brands generating $250 million in sales value, and as the North American Business Development lead within the Global Business Strategy Group. Prior to Diageo, she has held management roles at the General Motors Treasurer’s Office and at PricewaterhouseCoopers. A Sydney, Australia native, Calderwood is a graduate from the University of Sydney and received an MBA degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
As Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Calderwood will be responsible for maintaining the financial integrity of the business across its North American footprint and ensuring best in class performance and the management of strategic growth plans. Calderwood will serve as a key leader in building Breakthru’s position of strength and promoting the company’s core values and priorities throughout the organization.
“Breakthru has established itself as a leading North American beverage wholesaler through its nimble approach to business and unmatched sales and logistics expertise dating back generations. Gene Luciana is a legend in the beverage alcohol industry, and I hope to build on his abundant successes while leveraging the insights I’ve gained from my years both in the beverage alcohol space in addition to other industries of which I’ve served,” said Calderwood. “I’m excited for the opportunity to continue to drive Breakthru’s business forward and to return to an industry I know and love.”
“I am grateful to have been a part of such strong, ethical family-run companies,” added Luciana. “Breakthru Beverage Group is a company governed by an unwavering commitment to strong ethics and a sense of integrity. It has been an honor and a joy to be a part of this organization.”
About Breakthru Beverage Group
Breakthru Beverage Group is one of the leading alcohol wholesalers in the United States and the largest broker in Canada representing a full total beverage alcohol portfolio of spirits, wine and beer. Across all markets, Breakthru aligns a nimble and insightful approach to sales, marketing and operations. Family ownership is active in the business and committed to being stewards of heritage and champions of innovation.
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