Great Lakes CEO, Bill Boor, Unexpectedly Out the Door

Dear Client:

Great Lakes Brewing is searching for a new CEO.

The industry newcomer that served as chief of the Cleveland-based brewery since late 2015, Bill Boor, has returned to the non-beer business world.

During Bill’s time at Great Lakes, the company maintained its position as a Top 20 BA-defined craft brewer, laid the groundwork for a possible expansion project on the Scranton Peninsula [see CBD 03-08-2017], and perhaps, most notably, introduced an employee stock ownership plan [see CBD 05-30-2018].

Unbeknownst to many, Bill jumped ship last month to become CEO of Cavco Industries, a company out of Phoenix that “bills itself as one of the largest producers of manufactured homes in the U.S.” per Crain’s Cleveland.

Bill, who has served as an independent member of Cavco’s board since July 2008, was reportedly named CEO of Cavco last month.

In a statement to Crain’s Cleveland, Great Lakes said it was surprised by the decision, but holds no ill will toward its former leader.

“Bill Boor’s departure was unanticipated but amicable, and we wish him the best of luck,” a company spokesperson told the outlet. “We are grateful for all of the positive contributions he made during his time at GLBC.”

We spoke to Bill just about a year ago. He told us they’d had a “tough start” to 2018, and had ended 2017 just slightly up, at 141,000 barrels.  

At this time, Great Lakes said it has no clear successor, but they’re on the hunt to find one.  “Our internal leadership team works closely together every day and will continue to do so as we move forward and search for a replacement,” the brewer told Crain’s Cleveland.

Recall when naming Bill as CEO a few years back, the founders of Great Lake Pat and Dan Conway said they “felt that after three decades, it might be better for the overall growth of the company to look outside of our four walls and bring in expertise that we thought we could use.” Bill — a former executive at Cliffs Natural Resources, Eagle Materials, and Centex Corp — fit the bill then. Will they search for another industry outsider this go-round? We shall see.

Stay tuned.

FAMED “HAZY” BREWER SEES LITE OFFERING TAKE TOP SPOT IN ITS BOSTON BACKYARD

Well, here’s another Boston brewer in the news: Night Shift Brewing is opening Connecticut next month with Sarene Craft Beer Distributors, the independent distributor they also use for the New York market.

It will be Night Shift’s fourth state territory to open. Co-founder Rob Burns told CBD he expects they’ll do a little more than 40,000 barrels just in that tight footprint this year. (That’d be more than double what they did in 2017.)

Rob said the new Connecticut territory has been “one of their most requested states.”

Recall, Night Shift has quite a diverse model, with two beer gardens in the Boston area (besides the tasting room at their Everett brewery). Rob estimates direct to consumer sales this year will be about 30% of their overall revenue.

Recall, they most recently opened an outpost in Lovejoy Wharf next to TD Garden, with a new 480-seat location that also features a coffee shop with house-roasted beans (“Look out for stand alone coffee shops in the future!” says Rob; they’ll also sell coffee online and wholesale).

Night Shift also has a distribution arm, through which they self-distribute in their home state (and carry about 30 other brands as well). And now they’ve secured an import license, too.

“We just had our first wines in from Europe last week,” Rob told CBD. “That’s kind of our next foray, wine and liquor from Europe.”

But most surprising of all to us?

This renowned maker of hoppy beers (hazy pale ale Whirlpool and IPA Santilli are rated as “exceptional” on BeerAdvocate, for example) is just now seeing Nite Lite, their craftier take on light beer, become its no. 1 volume brand in the company’s Massachusetts backyard. The 4.3% ABV brew, at 120 calories, has a “high malt-to-corn ratio, is unfiltered, unpasteurized, all natural, and excludes any preservatives or additives.”

And now they have a lime version, Lime Lite, that’s reaching beyond traditional craft.  

“We’re kinda excited we created this nice little monster,” Rob told CBD. “And we’re thinking Lime Lite will catch up fast.”

Rob says people have compared it to “a better version of Bud Light Lime.” How does he feel about that? “That’s exactly what we’re going for,” he says.

They’re not sure if it will be a year-round beer at the moment.  

“We kinda want to see where it goes,” said Rob, who points out: Bud Light Lime is year round; people drink Coronas with lime year round.”

So, any more new markets for the brewer?

“We don’t wanna get ahead of our britches,” says Rob. Rather they’ll look to “support what we’ve been building” in their markets, and really “dip our toes into Connecticut” before considering any other markets. Still he notes there are “definitely” some other New England/Northeast states they haven’t entered, the likes of which “might be small enough volumes [that] we might consider adding [them] later this summer.” But nothing is official.

Until tomorrow,

Jenn, Jordan, and Harry

“I don’t wear a watch. How do I know my time? I find that someone will always tell me.” – Michael Patrick King

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