Upon breaking the news that A-B chief Dave Peacock has resigned from A-B, we received many thoughts from readers on the matter, from "they forced him out" to "he left because he didn't want to pressure wholesalers" to "he was the last of the Mohicans". BBD spoke with both Dave and North American Zone president Luiz Edmond about his departure. Here is an excerpt of their remarks:
DAVE PEACOCK ON HIS RESIGNATION. "Harry, I've thought about this for a long time. You know father worked here, and I never thought I'd be able to come into this company and do what I was able to do. It was amazing. I only have good memories. I wouldn't change anything over the last twenty years. What I've learned, the people I've met, it's just been great. I put in a call into August [IV] this morning. But I remember in 06 telling him, 'don't be surprised if I'm lucky enough to do well enough in my mid-40s that I'll check out after 2o years.' And that's where I am. I'm young enough to try something different. I also want to spend more time with my family...... And I plan on staying in St. Louis, a great city, and working on some civic projects and other projects that I'll spend time on. I told the Wholesaler Panel earlier that 'a retired husband is a wife's full time job.' So I'm not going to put my wife through that. I'll find something to do. And I couldn't thank Luiz and Brito enough. They've given me an opportunity to continue to advise the company. If I wasn't as confident as I am about where the company is going, and still have the opportunity to have an umbilical chord to the company, it would be hard for me to do this. It's been an amazing run, and I'm confident in the team.....The plan we've got going forward I think will blow people away. People will say I'm leaving because I don't like the path the company is taking or whatever, but that's not true -- I really want to reinforce that I believe in where this company is going."
LUIZ EDMOND ON DAVE. "We'd love to have Dave on board, but he has to make his own decisions. We respect that. We think it was best that he stay connected to the company, so that's why we proposed to him the advisory role, so that he will be able to help with all the knowledge and expertise and insights that he has. So at least we will have him around. I have to reinforce to you Harry that Dave over the last three years has been instrumental in the transition of this company..... I was very happy to have Dave help me, not only professionally in helping me run the North American business, but also individually with everything he did for me and my family. I'm happy we have a great relationship, and I want everybody to understand that. Of course, some people will have a different opinion, but we were very lucky to have Dave on board here for the time we had him."
Dave's official position and title of president [not CEO, as I said yesterday] will not be replaced. Rather, Luiz will take on some of Dave's responsibilities, as well as vp sales David Almeida, vp marketing Paul Chibe, and vp wholesaler dev Don Johnson. Ameida and Chibe are joining the management committee of the North American Zone. If it's okay with the Beer Institute, Dave will continue as chairman of that organization until a new chairman is named in July.
From a personal standpoint, Dave Peacock was an unusually versatile chief executive. I would email him a complex question about a Pennsylvania law or the increase in physical distribution of Ultra in Kentucky, and he would respond easily while also talking with a distributor, texting Joe Buck on his other phone, and writing a speech for Samcom on his third phone. I'm quite sure he had four hands, although I've never actually seen the extra two. Dave is also a straight shooter, and even when the news was unpleasant or sensitive, he never shied away from returning my calls or emails. He has such a dry deadpan, that even I sometimes would be at a loss on whether he was joking or not. When I spoke to him on the phone yesterday, I said, "Hey, big news," and he deadpanned, "what news?" He also usually spoke without notes or prompter, something that is anathema to today's scripted top executives. Accessible to a fault, and constantly in motion, he quite simply worked himself very hard.
Several wholesalers have suggested to BBD that Dave is leaving for only one of two reasons: 1. the new tone from A-B, as expressed in Dallas, may have hastened Dave's decision to exit stage left rather than continue to be an unpopular messenger; or 2. He was driven out because he's a part of the old culture. If these are the only two choices, I would tend to pick the first. Don't really know. I would also suggest a third alternative: he's 43 years old and rich with a young family, so maybe he's just leaving to live a better life, ie not on the road. If I were ever able to leave the beer business, which would obviously be out of the question until they put me in the ground for many reasons, I'd be tempted to leave all you bloody curmudgeons and hang around my hot wife and kids too. Regardless, we'll certainly miss Dave around the beer business.
GETTING TO KNOW LUIZ EDMOND MORE
A-B's North American Zone president, Luiz Edmond, who has been very hands-on with ABI's largest unit, A-B, is taking a larger role with the US company. But really he's already taken the lead role with the company since the beginning. Yet little is known about him outside of ABI. (He will be speaking at our Beer Summit next month, so we'll get to know him more there).
So who is Luiz Edmond? He has stayed largely in the background, so here are a few facts. Luiz's areas of expertise lie in branding, acquisitions and construction of new plants. He is a Brazilian citizen with a production engineering degree from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. He joined Brahma, which later became InBev in 1990, where he held various positions in commercial and direct distribution departments. He moved up through the InBev system and formed a close relationship with chief Carlos Brito. He was appointed Zone President Latin America and AmBev's CEO in 2005. In 2008 he became the Zone President North America and according to St. Louis Business Journal, Luiz is the most influential person behind the changes in operations and corporate culture at A-B. "He seemed like someone who might have grown up in San Francisco," an associate director of Stanford's Sloan master's program once said after a visit. He's obviously very bright and very driven.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT DAVE
Several top notable beer industry executives wrote in to BBD to give their impressions of Dave Peacock as he prepares to leave the industry. As is typical for this industry, even staunch competitors showed class in honoring him:
"Dave Peacock is a first rate executive and a good spokesman for his company and the industry. His loyalty was manifest in everything he did. I wish him great personal success and happiness." -Tom Long, MillerCoors
"Dave Peacock seemed dedicated to building relationships with craft brewers and felt like a signal from AB that they had entered the modern management era in terms of inclusiveness in the industry. And he's a good guy with whom it was fun to share a few beers." -Kim Jordan, New Belgium Brewing Co.
"The Beer Institute is deeply grateful for the years of leadership and service Dave has dedicated to the entire industry as President of Anheuser-Busch. No one in the industry is better-liked or respected and that reputation is well-deserved. On a personal note, I'm grateful for the confidence and support he has shown me from my very first day on the job as President of the Beer Institute. I will always look to him as a role model as I continue to work on behalf of our great industry." -Joe McClain, The Beer Institute
"For many beer distributors and others in the industry, Dave has provided a sense of consistency and confidence. He understands that if an organization is to succeed, relationships and trust matter. His leadership will be missed, and we wish him all of the best." -Craig Purser, National Beer Wholesalers Association
"Dave and I worked through some difficult times in brewer-distributor relations. He was always straight-forward, professional, and kept his commitments. I have great respect for Dave. He will be greatly missed during what I would call 'a relationship building period of time.'" -Phil Short, former NBWA chair, PA Short Distributing Co.
"Dave was a very positive influence at AB, but unfortunately not so with ABI, due to forces beyond his control. He will be missed, but he definitely made the correct decision for him and his family. I wish him all the best." -Kevin Bartholemew, Ben E. Keith Beers
"I have enjoyed my professional relationship with Dave which has evolved into a friendship. Dave has always been approachable, available and straightforward in his dealings with me and others. In my view, he is well liked because he is open to input, he is sincere with his feedback and he values relationships. Dave has been good for the A-B system and good for the beer industry overall. I appreciate the good working relationship I have enjoyed with him and I will miss his daily presence in this great industry." -Larry Del Papa, former NBWA chair, Del Papa Distributing Co.
AMERICAN AIRLINES TO OFFER FREE BEER and wine on overseas flights starting February 1 (but not spirits). The complimentary beer and wine will be offered in the main cabin on international flights between Europe, Asia a few South American destinations and the US. "Our customers asked for complimentary beer and wine, and we listened," said Rob Friedman, American's vp of marketing. Alleluia.
STARBUCKS INTRODUCING BEER/WINE in Atlanta and Southern California stores by the end of 2012. The stores will be in addition to the Chicago and Oregon stores already announced in the evening day-part concept. "As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about," said Clarice Turner, svp of US operations. "At select stores where it is relevant for the neighborhood, we are focused on creating an atmosphere where our customers can relax with a friend, a small bite to eat and a cup of coffee or glass of wine." Alleluia.
Until tomorrow, Harry
"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life."
THE 10TH ANNUAL BEER INDUSTRY SUMMIT will be held February 20-21, 2012 at the historic Hotel del Coronado near San Diego. Tickets going fast. Check the schedule of great speakers here: http://tinyurl.com/6otpt4r
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