For 18 years, big kahuna and founder Freddy Bensch has been behind the velocity of SweetWater Brewing Co. It seems like only yesterday when the brand was putting the finishing touches on its new 250-barrel (bbl) brewhouse and $19 million expansion. It also feels like last month when we were congratulating Kim Jones on being promoted to CFO, but we suppose that was nearly two years ago. Man, time flies when you’re industry’s averaging almost 20 percent growth. To that point: Both Bensch and Jones have been important parts in that market growth, nationalizing Atlanta’s most famous craft brand.
Now, torches are being passed.
SweetWater Brewing has announced that Kim Jones has been appointed chief executive officer and Coors-come-craft vet Bill Waters has been named chief financial officer. Bensch will continue to serve as chairman and will remain closely involved in setting strategy and promoting the vision that remains SweetWater’s guiding principle: “Don’t Float the Mainstream.”
“The title is now official, but Kim has long been my right-hand in running SweetWater’s business. Now that Bill is on board, we have one of the most experienced senior leadership teams in the industry,” Bensch said. “I’m proud of the phenomenal business we’ve created, and look forward to drawing from Kim and Bill’s knowledge and experience to take SweetWater to the next level. We have plenty more streams to fish and I believe that Kim and Bill are the right team to deliver our brews to more good folks who love great beer.”
Together with other members of SweetWater’s management, Jones and Waters bring more than 125 years of combined experience with global beverage or craft beer companies. Both Jones and Waters have leadership experience in high-growth and well-established domestic and international consumer products companies.
“Since founding SweetWater 18 years ago, Freddy has been a driving force in establishing the culture, values and commitment to quality that both define and distinguish us — building the elements that have made us one of the leading craft beer companies in the U.S.,” Jones said. “As CEO, I intend to complement his vision by ensuring solid business operations and building a strong infrastructure for growth.”
Since 2013, Jones has served as SweetWater’s CFO and has overseen a period of significant growth for the company, both expanding the SweetWater portfolio and building the company’s employee base with strategic new hires. During her tenure, new releases of note include a Cork & Cage series of barrel-aged brews, and Take Two Pils — released in May of 2014, this pilsner has received national recognition, including “Top 20 Pilsners in the World” by Men’s Journal. Jones has significant background in accounting and finance and has overseen a portfolio of diverse experience that includes senior financial and management positions with SPANX Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co.
“SweetWater has significant runway in new and existing markets,” said Waters. “I believe the company is well-positioned for growth and am thrilled to be a part of this excellent team that will help navigate the company’s trajectory.”
Prior to joining SweetWater as CFO, Waters served as Chief Strategy Officer of Molson Coors Brewing Co. Previously, he worked in various senior finance and strategy positions, including CFO of Coors Brewing Co., CFO of Coors International and Global Controller, where he was a key player in driving the evolution of Molson Coors through both organic growth and M&A activities.