Behind every beer brand you drink is an impressive team of beer professionals — brewers, barkeeps, bussers, canners, sales reps, CEOs, COOs, lab techs, interns and everyone from marketing and HR teams to warehouse and restaurant workers. “Beer professional” encapsulates a wide variety of jobs and skill sets, and breweries are constantly making moves to secure great employees and industry leaders. Oftentimes, it’s not even a beer pro, but a food or technology wiz that’s needed. Craft breweries and their suppliers and trade associations have many facets and require specialized employees. Here are a few of the big personnel headlines from the craft brewing industry in the last month plus. Send your beer pro news to [email protected].
Massachusetts’ Bent Water Brewing promotes Joe Companion to vice president of sales
Bent Water Brewing Co. recently announced the promotion of longtime craft beer sales veteran Joe Companion to vice president of sales. Companion’s promotion is the latest move by Bent Water to refine and scale its operations and management to further capitalize on its recent growth.
In his role as vice president of sales, Companion will lead the brewery’s relationship management and strategy with its external distribution partners. The brewery currently distributes in Massachusetts, Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The transition to this leadership role started more than a month ago as Companion began complementing his duties leading distribution strategy in Vermont and New Hampshire with national responsibilities overseeing distribution in other key states.
“Joe has shown a remarkable relationship management skill set,” commented Aaron Reames, president and cofounder of Bent Water Brewing. “His deep experience in the distribution business combined with his highly organized approach have already helped us expand our volume through distribution partners — and helped them take market share. Joe’s win together philosophy will build a strong foundation for the future success of our sales teams.”
Companion has an accomplished background with 26 years of sales success on both the wholesaler and brewery sides of the beer industry, working at highly respected organizations such as Mass Bay Brewery (Harpoon), von Trapp Brewery, and Farrell Distributing. Under his leadership, the Harpoon portfolio saw significant growth in western Massachusetts and von Trapp experienced double digit yearly growth during his respective tenures.
“I’m honored to be part of the Bent Water team and excited about what the future holds for us,” said Companion. “Culture has always been a focus for me, and there’s a great team and sense of camaraderie at Bent Water. I’m looking forward to playing an even bigger role in our next stage of growth.”
Companion will report to Drew Yeager, chief operating officer, who will also play a critical role in managing the brewery’s sales relationships. In sales management, Companion is complemented by Patrick Paulick, director of sales and operations, who brings more than 25 years of craft beer sales management experience to oversee the sales and delivery execution of Bent Water’s self-distribution territory in eastern Massachusetts. Prior to joining Bent Water, Paulick served in sales leadership roles at Brooklyn Brewery, Mass Bay Brewery (Harpoon), and True North Ales.
Bent Water Brewing is a Lynn-based brewery that focuses on consistent, quality craft beers. Founded in 2015 by Massachusetts North Shore residents, Bent Water operates on a 30-bbl system and proudly utilizes Lynn’s superior water source. For more information, please visit http://www.bentwaterbrewing.com/.
Virginia’s Selvedge Brewing has been helmed by a new head brewer for a few months new (Josh Skinner)
Back in August (sorry, sometimes we gotta sit on people news because we don’t get a ton in — SO SEND SOME), Selvedge Brewing in Charlottesville, Va., welcomed Josh Skinner as its new head brewer. Skinner comes to Selvedge from Champion Brewing, where he served as head brewer and director of brewing operations. At Selvedge, Skinner will return to small batch brewing. While he has no shortage of ideas for new styles and new beers, when it comes to Selvedge’s flagship beers, he aims to stay true to the classic styles that have stood the test of time. Quality and innovation have always been paramount to the vision for Selvedge and Skinner looks forward to building on that foundation.
Drinkability is at the core of Skinner’s brewing philosophy, and he relishes in developing beers that invite another sip. With Skinner at the helm, Selvedge customers can look forward to a diverse tap list. He is eager to explore a wide range of lagers, different styles of IPAs, branch out into mixed and wild fermentation, and continue to develop Selvedge’s barrel-aging program.
A self-professed lager nerd, this is where Skinner’s passion lies — from super pale to just shy of a stout — noting that every step in developing a lager is critical. “With a lager, you can’t hide from mistakes,” he said.
Skinner enjoys incorporating local and regional ingredients into his beers as much as possible. A lover of food himself, he’s energized by the prospect of collaborating with Chef Tucker Yoder who is executive chef at The Wool Factory, which operates both Broadcloth, an ingredient-driven restaurant, and the taproom of Selvedge.
Skinner grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and studied archeology at Radford University. His homebrewing hobby turned into his full-time career in 2012 when he joined the team at Blue Mountain Brewery and enrolled at the Siebel Institute of Technology, a professional brewing program based in Chicago. He made the move to Champion Brewing just as they were beginning a major expansion and played a crucial role in the brewery’s growth for eight years.
Brian Crawford named president and chief executive officer of the Beer Institute
The Beer Institute — one of the nation’s oldest trade associations representing brewers, beer importers and beer industry suppliers — just announced the appointment of Brian Crawford to president and chief executive officer of the trade association. Crawford joins the Beer Institute from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), where he is executive vice president of government affairs.
“I am delighted Brian has joined the Beer Institute, which serves as a critical voice for our industry. The beer industry has seen significant category growth and with Brian’s leadership, we will be able to accelerate that momentum with leaders in Washington and help ensure beer companies are positioned to best serve our customers, consumers and communities,” said Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Anheuser-Busch and chairman of the Beer Institute. “Brian brings deep experience across government and public affairs, as well as a strong foundation driving policy outcomes, making him uniquely qualified for this important role.”
“The past two years have been pivotal to the future of our industry, and selecting a new chief executive of the Beer Institute has been particularly important as we look to the road ahead,” said Gavin Hattersley, CEO of Molson Coors Beverage Co. and vice chairman of the Beer Institute. “Whether that means challenging aluminum tariffs or advocating fair tax rates for beer, I have no doubt that Brian has the experience, passion and integrity necessary to lead us into an exciting next chapter.”
The Beer Institute Board of Directors announced Crawford’s selection at the start of the Beer Institute Annual Membership Meeting, a members-only meeting held in Chicago. His official start date at the Beer Institute will be December 5. The position of president and chief executive officer has been vacant since May, after the departure of Jim McGreevy.
Crawford will lead and represent the Beer Institute before lawmakers, regulators, news media and in public forums both inside and outside the Beltway.
“I am incredibly honored to join the Beer Institute team and become part of the vibrant American beer industry. It is clear that the beer industry is strongest when we work together to strengthen and grow the beer category for brewers and suppliers, consumers and communities alike. I look forward to starting and working every day to promote the more than two million hardworking Americans whose jobs rely on beer,” said Crawford.
Brian Crawford serves as executive vice president of government affairs for the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He joined the association in February of 2014 after serving more than eight years as a senior staffer on Capitol Hill. He was promoted to be department head in late 2017.
In this role, Crawford leads the association’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and with key administration policymakers and stakeholders on priority issues including short-term rentals, workforce career development and technology and distribution. He also oversees the lodging industry’s largest political action committee, HotelPAC, ensuring that the association’s political voice is strong and united by investing in federal candidates who support the industry.
Crawford came to AHLA following eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives, having served five as chief of staff to U.S. Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17). He previously served as the deputy chief of staff for Florida Congressman Ric Keller (FL-08) and held senior roles in other national trade associations.
Online alcohol wholesaler Provi hires former Facebook executive as new SVP of strategic partnerships
Provi, which touts itself the largest ecommerce marketplace for the beverage alcohol industry, recently announced its new SVP of strategic partnerships, Andy Berman, to deepen relationships with wine, beer, and spirits suppliers through the company’s digital B2B offerings. Berman previously served as head of Americas, audience network at Facebook and was most recently an executive at GoPuff. Berman brings over a decade of technology and online marketplace experience to Provi.
In this role, Berman will help accelerate Provi’s mission of strengthening connections throughout the three-tier system with digital offerings for large, mid-size and emerging suppliers. Provi’s online marketplace supports suppliers’ three-tier ecommerce strategies and trade advocacy programs by increasing awareness, education and product accuracy to on- and-off premise retailers.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Andy Berman to further unlock new opportunities for brands of all sizes,” said Provi’s Founder and CEO Taylor Katzman. “Andy’s extensive marketplace experience will help fuel our mission of a connected marketplace across buyers, distributors and suppliers.”
Provi’s online marketplace simplifies the complex process of ordering wholesale alcohol by connecting buyers, distributors, and suppliers all in one place. With over 1,400 distributor integrations, Provi’s three-tier compliant solution enhances brand visibility and education for licensed trade buyers on the marketplace.
“I am excited to apply my knowledge to the beverage alcohol industry and further support Provi’s mission of propelling the sector forward, through digital advancements,” stated Berman. “Online solutions, like Provi, have the ability to positively transform the overall growth and innovation of beer, wine, and spirit products. I’m thrilled to have a direct impact in how suppliers will develop and enhance their go-to-market strategies.”
Andrew Levy, who previously filled Provi’s SVP of Strategic Partnerships role, has been promoted to SVP of strategy overseeing efforts across corporate development, commercial partnerships, and industry affairs. Levy, who brings with him nearly two decades of beverage alcohol experience including his former role as Constellation Brands Vice President, will further embed Provi as an industry resource and active member of the industry. Levy’s department will focus on giving back to the hospitality industry and providing education around the digital transformation of the sector.
Both Levy and Berman will report directly to Taylor Katzman.
Safe Bars has a new executive director — Amie Ward
Safe Bars is a nonprofit with the mission to help bars, restaurants, breweries, and other alcohol-serving spaces create safe and welcoming cultures for patrons, and safe and respectful workplaces for staff. Its curricula empowers women, girls, LGBTQI+ people, and others targeted for harassment, abuse, and assault. The Safe Bars Board of Directors recently named Amie Ward the new executive director of Safe Bars, assuming the role from founding director Lauren Taylor, who has been at this work for more than 40 years.
“We are absolutely thrilled to appoint Amie as our new executive director,” said Dr. J Jackson-Beckham, president of the Safe Bars Board of Directors. “The first thing that anyone will see in Amie is her boundless energy and genuine commitment to the work of preventing gender-based violence.”
Ward will manage day-to-day operations for one of the nation’s leading providers of active bystander and deescalation training and education for hospitality industry professionals. Ward has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years, having begun as a dishwasher in a Maryland crab house and hitting her stride running high-volume bar programs and events. Ward’s passion for health, wellness, and safety in the service industry inspired her to launch The Healthtender, through which she travels across the United States to educate bartenders on how to care for themselves mentally and physically and teaches free movement classes for bartenders internationally.
Safe Bars came to our attention first via the Safe Bars P.A.C.T. Initiative, focused on helping craft breweries develop codes of conduct and provide Safe Bars Certification Training. The core of Safe Bars training is being able to pick up on problems and take action. If staff sees disrespectful behavior, it is within their power and responsibility to do something about it. It creates a safer environment and also results in better business. Learn more right over here.