Simon Thorpe Steps Down as Pabst Brewing CEO

Pabst Brewing Company today announced a number of executive changes, including the departure of chief executive officer Simon Thorpe, whose time with the company lasted 21 months.

In a press release, the company said Thorpe, along with chief operating officer Brian Bousely, had stepped down from their roles.

Pabst Chairman Eugene Kashper, who along with private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners and other investors purchased the company in 2014 for a reported $750 million, will reassume the CEO role.

“These were not easy decisions –- and to be clear, this was not about cutting costs -– but rather about becoming laser focused and unleashing the potential of our iconic brands in our platform as well as driving a truly entrepreneurial, small company mindset,” Kashper said via the release.

When Thorpe was hired, Kashper told Brewbound that he viewed the chairman and CEO positions as two separate roles, saying “the chairman and CEO roles should be split,” and that his “experience and personality would be more suited to the chairman role.”

Today’s announcement is the latest in a string of organizational changes at Pabst.

Just five months after he was hired, Thorpe –- the former president of Duvel Moortgat USA -– was tasked with reorganizing Pabst’s leadership team. At the time, Rich Pascucci, who had served as Pabst’s chief growth officer, and Bruce Muenter, who was the company’s chief sales officer, were laid off. Six other employees, including a regional vice president, were also terminated.

Five months later, in September 2017, Pabst tapped Matt Bruhn as its new CMO, letting go of longtime CMO Dan McHugh in the process. According to today’s announcement, Bruhn will relinquish that role, and instead begin serving as general manager in charge of “all day-to-day commercial operations, including marketing, sales, and people & culture.”

Two other key Pabst employees also departed the organization last year, including chief strategy officer Chris Barrow and regional vice president Terry Hopper.

Then, in January 2018, Pabst cut 18 percent of its workforce, a move that resulted in the elimination of 70 positions.

“After careful review, we believe it is in our best interest to take a series of strategic actions now, in order to reduce complexity, cut costs, simplify priorities, and reallocate resources, so that Pabst is well positioned for success as we go into 2018,” Thorpe said at the time.

All of this comes as Pabst is embroiled in a $400 million lawsuit against MillerCoors over a contract brewing arrangement that is slated to expire in 2020.

A press release with additional details about Pabst’s latest executive shuffle, including the hiring of former Stone Brewing vice president Ron Kane, is included below.

LOS ANGELES, CA – September 5, 2018 – Pabst Brewing Company (“PBC”), North America’s largest privately held brewing company, today announced a series of leadership changes. Simon Thorpe, Chief Executive Officer, and Brian Bousley, President and Chief Operating Officer, are stepping down from their roles, effective immediately. Eugene Kashper, Chairman of the Board, will return to the role of Chief Executive Officer and remain Chairman of the Board. Kashper previously served as CEO from November 2014 through November 2016.

In addition, the company announced that:

  • Matt Bruhn, Chief Marketing Officer, will now serve as General Manager. Matt will be responsible for all day-to-day commercial operations, including Marketing, Sales, and People & Culture.
  • Ron Kane, currently Vice President of Supply Chain & Distribution at Stone Brewing, will be joining PBC as Chief Supply Chain Officer. Ron has run large production facilities, handled logistics, purchasing and other aspects of operations. After over 25 years in the beverage industry and a distinguished career at Nestle and Monster Energy, Ron brings many invaluable skills that will help PBC strengthen its supply chain operations in the coming years.
  • Chief Sales Officer Brian Smith will now join the company’s Executive Leadership Team. Brian has made great strides in taking Pabst’s sales organization to the next level and will work together with Matt to ensure PBC is able to deliver seamless execution in the marketplace.

“We have made good progress in 2018 as we strive to premiumize our core brands and develop an impactful innovation pipeline for the future. Nevertheless, we felt the need to take a critical look at the structure of our leadership team and ultimately decided to make several changes in order to simplify how we operate and drive greater clarity and accountability,” Kashper stated.

“These were not easy decisions – and to be clear this was not about cutting costs – but rather about becoming laser focused on unleashing the potential of our iconic brands and our platform, as well as driving a truly entrepreneurial, small company mindset.”

“On behalf of the entire team, I’d like to thank Simon and Brian for their contributions to the growth and development of Pabst over the years,” Kashper continued. “They both joined PBC at a crucial time and worked hard to move our organization forward. We are thankful for everything they’ve done and wish them the best as they pursue new opportunities.”

ABOUT PABST BREWING COMPANY

Since 1844, Pabst Brewing Company has been American-owned and operated, and is North America’s largest privately held brewing company. Pabst’s portfolio includes iconic brands with deep ties to America’s heritage, such as its flagship Pabst Blue Ribbon and others such as Lone Star, Rainier, Schlitz, Old Style, National Bohemian, Stag, Stroh’s, and Old Milwaukee. Our company, our people, and our brands are committed to making a positive impact and connecting communities across the country.

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