Spirits Executive to Lead New Belgium as Next CEO

After an nine month search, New Belgium Brewing has found its next CEO.

The Fort Collins, Colo.-headquartered company, which also operates a brewing facility in Asheville, North Carolina, today announced that Steve Fechheimer, the former chief strategy officer at Beam Suntory, would take over as CEO in mid-August.

Fechheimer will supplant New Belgium founder Kim Jordan, who originally stepped down as CEO after 25 years in late 2015 but had recently been leading the company following the departure of her successor, Christine Perich, who abruptly left the organization last October.

“We are so excited to welcome Steve to New Belgium,” Jordan said in a press release. “His expertise at strategy development and execution in the high-end world of spirits, coupled with our 26 years of solid brewing and branding, is a perfect setup for the kind of dynamic future New Belgium is planning.”

The announcement also comes just days after Ruairi Twomey, who had been serving as New Belgium’s vice president of marketing, left the company. News of Twomey’s departure was first reported by Beer Marketer’s Insights, a subscription-based trade publication. A search for his replacement will be underway shortly, Jordan confirmed to Brewbound.

When Fechheimer takes over as CEO next month, Jordan will transition back into her role as executive chair of the brewery’s Board of Directors and continue to oversee “long-term strategy and vision.”

Fechheimer, who held various executive positions with Beam Suntory, the world’s third-largest premium spirits company, will be tasked with overseeing “New Belgium’s executive team, short-term strategy, industry leadership, and day-to-day operations,” the release noted.

“Steve is smart and driven while also being approachable, and we’re all excited about the perfect cultural and business fit,” Jordan said via the release. “We took our time to find a terrific candidate and feel very lucky that we’ve done just that.”

As chief strategy officer for Beam Suntory, Fechheimer “led organic growth initiatives such as route-to-market design and distributor negotiations,” the release noted. He also worked on acquisitions and global partnerships during his eight years with the spirits company.

“New Belgium, with its incredible history and heritage, has an amazingly bright future, and I look forward to working with Kim, the leadership team and all of the nearly 800 coworkers to build upon our great foundation,” Fechheimer said in the release.

New Belgium, ranked as the fourth largest craft brewery in the U.S. by trade group the Brewers Association (BA), also promoted Joe Davis, who had been serving as general counsel, to the role of chief operating officer.

Jenn Vervier, the company’s director of sustainability and strategy, was also named the interim vice president of marketing following Twomey’s departure.

In May, New Belgium brewmaster Peter Bouckaert announced plans to leave the company after 21 years. The company has not yet named a replacement.

New Belgium grew five percent in 2016 and brewed about 958,000 barrels of beer, according to BA records. The company recently filled out a national distribution footprint after entering Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont earlier this year.

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