Fireman’s Brew, a Los Angeles-based craft beer company founded by two firefighters, announced that it has further strengthened its executive leadership team with the appointment of industry veteran Don Lake as executive vice president, national sales.
With sales and marketing leadership experience across craft, import and domestic beer brands, Lake brings to Fireman’s Brew a wealth of experience in the industry, having previously held key leadership positions at Anheuser-Busch, Coors Brewing, Labatt USA, The Gambrinus Co. and Warsteiner-USA.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to have Don join the Fireman’s Brew team as our new EVP of national sales,” said Robert Nowaczyk, founder of Fireman’s Brew. “He brings with him both a wealth of beer industry knowledge, as well as experience in rapidly growing craft beer brands.”
An entrepreneurial business leader, Lake most recently served as president of Warsteiner-USA, where he oversaw national sales and marketing for one of the world’s oldest and most respected German breweries. Prior to this role, as national director of sales for The Gambrinus Co., Lake directed U.S. sales efforts, generating more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue and rapidly expanding the distribution network of its craft beer portfolio including Shiner, Trumer Pils, Bridgeport, Pete’s and Moosehead brands. During his 14 year tenure at The Gambrinus Co., Lake was instrumental in helping the company grow to become the fourth largest U.S. Craft Brewery by volume.
“Don has been living and breathing all things beer for nearly 40 years, driving the growth behind some of the major players in the beer industry,” explained Roger Baer, chief executive officer of Fireman’s Brew. “His impressive background, first-hand experiences and expert knowledge will play an integral role in helping Fireman’s Brew as we continue to expand our distribution footprint.”
In his new role with Fireman’s Brew, Lake will leverage his extensive industry knowledge and proven sales leadership track record to lead the continued expansion of this fast-growing craft beer brand into new markets. Over the past nine months, Fireman’s Brew has expanded distribution for its three handcrafted beers beyond its home state of California into Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Iowa, Virginia, Oklahoma and New York.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to join Fireman’s Brew,” Lake said. “With a compelling brand story, a portfolio of three award-winning craft beers and an intrinsic firefighter community connection, we have the potential to build Fireman’s Brew into a national brand.”
Speaking of national growth, the company also announced its expansion into three new states: Virginia, Iowa and Oklahoma. Through newly signed distribution agreements with Virginia Imports (VA), L&L Distributing (IA) and Quality Beverage (OK), Fireman’s Brew award-winning beers will soon be available at on-premise and off-premise locations throughout each state.
This news follows on the heels of the company’s successful rollout into six new states including: Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska and Rhode Island over the past nine months. In addition, Fireman’s Brew recently took home top honors at the 2013 San Diego International Beer Competition, earning a Gold Medal Ribbon for its signature Brunette (Doublebock) in the German-Style Bock category and a Silver Medal Ribbon for its Blonde (Pilsner-Style Lager) in the American-Style Lager category.
“2013 continues to be an amazing year of growth and achievement for Fireman’s Brew,” Nowaczyk said. “In just over six months, we’ve successfully launched Fireman’s Brew into Nebraska, Nevada and Rhode Island. And now with the addition of Virginia, Iowa and Oklahoma, we’re continuing towards our goal of developing Fireman’s Brew into a national brand. We’re excited for the opportunity to team up with our new distribution partners and connect with craft beer enthusiasts in each of these new markets.”
Be sure to check out this previous CBB profile of Fireman’s Brew’s growth strategy.