After operating for nearly a year without a CEO, the Canarchy Craft Brewery Collective has appointed long-time beer executive Tony Short to its top leadership post.
The Fireman Capital-backed brewery consortium — whose brands include Oskar Blues, Cigar City, Deep Ellum, Perrin Brewing, Three Weavers, and Utah Brewers Cooperative (Wasatch and Squatters) — had been without a chief executive since last May, when David Pillsbury exited the company after about six months on the job. At the time, Canarchy promoted chief operating officer Matt Fraser to the role of president.
Short now joins a Canarchy executive leadership team that includes Fraser and Todd Whitbeck, who quietly joined the organization as chief financial officer and head of business development in June 2018 after serving as CFO of Waterpik for nearly four years.
Speaking to Brewbound, Fraser said Canarchy wasn’t actively looking to fill the CEO role but began discussions with Short due to his existing relationships with members of Canarchy’s board.
“He’s just a perfect complement to the team that we have in place,” Fraser said. “We think he can be a humongous asset coming in and continuing to execute the strategy that we have in place.”
Short brings more than three decades of experience in the beer industry to the role, including serving as president of Major Eagle, one of the largest beer wholesalers in Florida, and working 24 years for Anheuser-Busch, where he served as vice president of business and wholesaler development.
“Our founders have implemented a thoughtful and successful strategy in assembling a remarkable portfolio of craft beers,” Short said via a press release. “I look forward to leading the execution of this vision and to supporting the Canarchy team, their wholesalers, and their retailers in satisfying beer drinkers’ needs for years to come.”
Short will take the helm on April 29, and Fraser said he expects the role to “naturally evolve” as the company works to identify the key areas where the former wholesaler executive can help the company the most.
“We’ll figure that out, and I’m pumped about the opportunity to work alongside him,” he said.
Short’s addition to Canarchy comes after a 2018 in which the group outpaced the growth of the overall craft market. The Brewers Association (BA) ranked Canarchy the eight-largest craft brewery in 2018, with the group’s breweries combining to ship about 420,000 barrels of beer.
The company’s positive trends have carried over to 2019. According to research firm IRI, off-premise dollar sales for Canarchy offerings increased 30.5 percent, to more than $17.9 million, through March 24. Additionally, dollar sales of Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA increased 71.6 percent, to nearly $6.7 million, through the first three months of 2019.
“We’ve got a ton of momentum behind us right now,” Fraser said. “We’re on track to produce over 500,000 barrels in the next 12 months. I can see us breaking a million-barrel marker here in the next two or three years through organic growth, innovation, new products and adjacent products. We’ve had tremendous success so far in our hard seltzers, and then continuing to add new partnerships to the collective.”
According to Fraser, Canarchy’s hard seltzer brands — including Perrin’s Clear Coast and Oskar Blues’ Wild Basin — have performed “exceptionally well” in rate of sale. Squatters Craft beers’ Grandeur Peak hard seltzer launched earlier this month, and Deep Ellum’s Blind Lemon hard seltzer is also set to debut in the coming months. Fraser added that the company plans to expand Wild Basin’s distribution nationwide in May.
In the meantime, Fraser said Canarchy is beginning to operate as a more effective singular entity instead of a collection of multiple brands. To that end, he said Whitbeck has been “instrumental” in building the company’s back office infrastructure, including transferring all of its breweries’ operations to a single database.
As for adding additional partners to the collective, Fraser said the company is “first and foremost” seeking out “good people and good brands.”
“They’ve got to pass the first two to really even get the conversation going,” he said. “If they pass the first two, if you just look at a map of the United States, we don’t have a presence in the Pac Northwest, in the Chicago area or the Northeast. From a geographic standpoint, we’d love to add partners in those areas.”
Although nothing is imminent, Fraser said “there’s always conversations going on.”
A press release with additional details is included below.
CANarchy Appoints Industry Veteran Tony Short as CEO
Leading national craft brewery collective attracts alcoholic beverage industry veteran
LONGMONT, Colo. — CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, a disruptive collective of like-minded craft brewers, has selected industry veteran Tony Short as its CEO. At the helm of the collective, Tony will accelerate the stellar momentum of the industry’s eighth-largest and fastest growing craft brewery and lead the collective into its next phase of growth.
Short brings to CANarchy more than 30 years of executive management experience at both the supplier and distributor tiers. In 1986, Short joined (then) Anheuser-Busch, where he spent 24 years formulating and executing wholesaler strategy, honing distributor relationships, and gaining invaluable beer industry knowledge, eventually rising to the position of vice president of business and wholesaler development. He recently served as president of Major Eagle Inc., operator of one of Florida’s largest beer distributors.
With his proven track record and long tenure in the beer industry, Short enhances CANarchy’s existing leadership team, comprised of Matt Fraser, President and Chief Operating Officer and Todd Whitbeck, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Business Development. Whitbeck joined CANarchy in June 2018, bringing with him over 25 years of corporate finance, operations, and management experience, having most recently served as CFO of Water Pik, Inc.
“Tony’s pedigree is a perfect complement to our CANarchy team, and we are very fortunate to have him as our CEO,” said Fraser. “His wealth of experience and industry relationships will be instrumental in continuing to successfully implement the strategy we’ve put in place. Tony’s stewardship will allow us to accelerate CANarchy’s growth trajectory, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside him.”
Short is joining CANarchy at an opportune time for the collective. In the first quarter of 2019, CANarchy is seeing strong momentum, defying the craft beer industry’s current sluggish trends. The collective’s promising start in 2019 makes it the fastest growing craft brewery among the Top 50 Craft Breweries in YTD IRI retail scan data for the first three months of the year, growing at 31.0%.
“Tony’s beer mojo is exactly what CANarchy needs for this next phase of growth,” said Dale Katechis, founder of Oskar Blues Brewery. “Tony joining our company is a testament that we might be doing something right around here – you don’t attract this kind of talent if you’re not. Plus, I gave him the five-beer test and he aced it!”
“Tony is hands down the right person and coming in at the right time. He can take what we have created to beyond our expectations, all the while leading us.” said Joey Redner, founder of Cigar City Brewing.
“I’m excited to share my experience with the talented CANarchy team and to bolster our breweries’ ability to provide high-quality, innovative flavors to consumers everywhere,” said Tony Short. “Our founders have implemented a thoughtful and successful strategy in assembling a remarkable portfolio of craft beers. I look forward to leading the execution of this vision and to supporting the CANarchy team, their wholesalers, and their retailers in satisfying beer drinkers’ needs for years to come.”
All sales statistics refer to IRI retail scan data as of March 24, 2019. The industry ranking is according to the Brewers Association’s Top 50 Brewing Companies by Sales Volume list for 2018.
About CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective
Founded in 2015, CANarchy is a disruptive collective of like-minded brewers dedicated to bringing high-quality, innovative flavors to drinkers in the name of independent craft beer. The portfolio of craft breweries, partially funded by Fireman Capital Partners, includes Oskar Blues Brewery, Perrin Brewing, Company, Cigar City Brewing, Squatters Craft Beer, Wasatch Brewery, Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Three Weavers Brewing Company. CANarchy was ranked No. 8 on the BA’s list of the 2018 Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewers as ranked by sales volume. The CANarchy platform brewed over 421,000 barrels in 2018, reaching all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., parts of 17 countries spanning five continents. For more information, visit https://www.canarchy.beer.