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Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease to retire

The Brewers Association (BA) president and CEO Bob Pease has announced plans to retire in early 2025, after 32 years at the helm.

The association dedicated to advocating for small and independent American craft brewers is now on the lookout for a successor to take on the role.

Pease joined the BA in 1993 as a customer service manager and worked his way up to operations director before being promoted to vice president in 1999 and then COO in 2010 before reaching the rank of CEO in 2014. During his tenure, he turned around and solidified the organisation’s financial standing, from debt servicing to over US$23 million in reserves.

Speaking about his plans to step down, Pease said: “Over the last three decades, I have witnessed the BA grow from a small, narrowly focused association to one that is now a power player on important issues facing the industry domestically and internationally. Throughout my time at the helm of the BA, we have helped our members navigate explosive growth and unprecedented challenges. In doing so, we have put the BA on the map as a political force.”

In 2004, the BA pointed out that Pease established the association’s export development programme, building it from the ground up and helping grow the global craft beer revolution for nearly two decades. Since the initiative’s inception, US craft beer exports have increased from approximately 16,000 barrels to over 230,000 barrels and from US$3 million to over US$71 million.

Key roles

Then, in 2007, Pease worked with members of Congress to create the House and Senate Small Brewers Caucus—which has grown to become one of the largest member caucuses in Congress.

He also played a key role in devising and executing the strategy to provide federal excise tax relief to craft brewers through the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), which was enacted in 2017 and made permanent in 2020.

Pease said he was “proud of all that we have accomplished” in the association during his time, especially in relation to excise cuts.

He said: “I am particularly proud of the historic excise tax cut that empowered brewers to reinvest in their businesses and resulted in an annual tax savings of more than US$80 million.

“Making the federal excise tax cuts permanent was a two-decades-long effort that finally gained traction when all the leading trade groups, guilds, and member breweries banded together.”

Unwavering advocate

In 2017, Pease and the association’s public relations and marketing committee and staff additionally launched the independent craft brewer seal. Now, to date, nearly 5,000 breweries have adopted this mark, which helps consumers differentiate beer made by small and independent craft brewers from those from big commercial beer businesses.

Leah Cheston, owner of Right Proper Brewing Company and chairperson of the BA’s board of directors added that he has been “an unwavering advocate for small and independent brewers, and his accomplishments will leave a lasting impact on us all”.

She said:”He spearheaded the organisation during a critical time for the industry, growing the craft beer market share to 13% and supplying countless tools to help the craft brewing community thrive, from professional resources and tax savings, to hosting world-class events.

“We thank Bob for his steadfast leadership and look forward to partnering with him to ensure a smooth transition and search for his successor.”

The board has retained Kittleman & Associates to lead the search for Pease’s replacement.

Speaking to the drinks business, a spokesperson for the BA confirmed that “the search for Bob’s replacement is organised into three phases. First, the BA and Kittleman & Associates will define the role of the next CEO and how this role translates into content knowledge, business acumen, career experience, and personal attributes. This phase will begin with conversations with members of the BA’s board and select staff”.

Then, the spokesperson told db: “After these interviews and input sessions are completed, the search committee will meet to discuss the input from these interviews, strategy, milestones, and deliverables throughout the search. Then, the BA and Kittleman & Associates will draft a ‘position guide’ that describes this opportunity and the profile of the ideal CEO candidate.”

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