Dogfish Head CEO Nick Benz to Depart Company

Austin Ray

THE GIST
After being tapped for the role just two years ago, Dogfish Head CEO Nick Benz is departing the company, according to Brewbound. In turn, founder Sam Calagione will takeover as interim CEO. Benz, who has been with Dogfish Head for 13 years, having held multiple executive titles throughout his decade-plus tenure, will reportedly stay on in a part time consulting capacity in 2017.
 
WHY IT MATTERS
Benz had originally been brought on board in 2003 as the chief financial officer and was promoted to COO in 2006. In 2014, he was named CEO, a role that hadn’t technically existed within the company at the time. Previously, Calagione held the titles of president and chairman of the board. Now, Benz plans to spend more time with family while traveling throughout Belgium.
 
“Nick has played an incredibly important role as a leader and brilliant business mind helping us grow in our own intentionally off-centered direction,” wrote Calagione in a note obtained by Brewbound. “His legacy is rich with accomplishments from overseeing the physical expansion of our state-of-the-art brewery to his stewardship of our collaborative culture. I think his greatest accomplishment has been nurturing, motivating, and growing the most talented and awesome team of leaders we have ever had in our 21 years.”
 
The shakeup comes two years after the company sold a 15% stake to LNK Partners, a private equity firm. On that note, this is hardly the first example of executive movement occurring after a craft brewery takes on private equity money, or otherwise sells to a larger corporation.
 
Less than a year after Ballast Point sold to Constellation Brands (for a whopping $1 billion), founder Jack White, COO Yuseff Cherney, and two more executives departed the company. More recently, this past July, it was reported that VMG Consumer Partners had invested $90 million into a limited partnership with Stone Brewing. Two months later, Greg Koch stepped down as CEO and assumed the title of executive chairman.
 
The executive shuffle at Dogfish Head is a bit unique, however, in that it represents the company’s original leadership returning in a day-to-day capacity. It doesn’t seem as though the company has immediate plans to hire a new CEO (Calagione did not return a request for comment by press time), but it doesn’t seem to be of imminent concern. Rather, Dogfish Head has hired a headhunting firm to fill the role of president vacated by Calagione.
 
“We are looking for someone who can be an awesome thought leader,” Calagione told Brewbound.
 
In his capacity as CEO, Calagione will relinquish some of his brand ambassadorship and product development duties, according to Brewbound, and instead work closely on the sales side of things as the company looks to spur growth and explore new markets in 2017.
 
—Dave Eisenberg
 
READ MORE
People Moves; Dogfish Head CEO to Depart; Surly’s Head of Brewing Operations Steps Down [Brewbound]