Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) today announced that Kurt Widmer, the co-founder of Widmer Brothers Brewing and the current chair of the CBA board, would resign at the end of the year.
In an effort to support the transition as CBA’s board of directors selects a new chairperson, Kurt Widmer — who started the brewery with brother Rob Widmer in 1984 — will remain in his role through December 31, 2015 and assume the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus upon exiting, the company said.
“Many of us who set the foundation for today’s booming craft beer market are thinking about the next chapter in our lives, and my wife Ann and I have been discussing the fact that there’s still a lot we want to do,” Widmer said in a statement.
Kurt Widmer, 63, said he has no immediate plans to alter his ownership stake – he and younger brother Rob collectively own about 2.2 million shares, or 11.6 percent of CBA’s common stock, according to company filings.
Rob Widmer, who is not a board member, has no plans to depart CBA.
In a statement, Kurt Widmer assured shareholders of the timing of his departure by saying that he felt “really good about where CBA is today.”
“Looking back on how CBA has grown from two craft beer companies to a powerful alliance of great beers, brands, breweries and partners, I couldn’t be more confident in the future,” he said. “The focus, expertise, and vision of the leadership team, under the helm of Andy Thomas, are further proof that CBA, its people, and its shareholders are in great hands.”
The company, with Kurt’s help, is already reviewing prospective replacements, he said, adding that he expects his departure to have “very minimal impact” on daily business activities.
Widmer cited a desire to travel and spend time with family as the key drivers in his decision to step away from day-to-day responsibilities, which included strategic planning and budget assessment.
Kurt Widmer, together with brother Rob and a third sibling, also own a portion of the property that CBA leases in Portland, Ore.. That arrangement will continue for the foreseeable future, he said.
CBA was formed in 2008 through the merger of Redhook Brewery and Widmer. The two companies sold stakes to Anheuser-Busch in exchange for mandated access to the larger company’s nationwide network of wholesalers.
A-B currently owns 31.7 percent of CBA’s outstanding common stock and controls two of eight board seats.