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Big Beer Exec Hired at Schlafly

Schlafly Hires Big Beer Exec
Schlafly Hires Big Beer Exec

Craft brewers in transition are looking for veteran help. The hiring of James Pendegraft as the CEO at the St. Louis Brewery continues the trend of veterans from major breweries taking the reins at smaller companies in the craft beer segment following a change in ownership.

Pendegraft most recently worked for North American Breweries and has been consulting with the St. Louis Brewery, makers of the Schlafly brand, since last fall. Sage Capital took a 60 percent ownership of the brewery in 2012 with co-founders Dan Kopman and Tom Schlafly retaining minority stakes.Pendegraft will replace Kopman, who becomes the co-chairman with Schlafly.

The purchase of smaller operations by private equity groups or larger brewers are invariably based on growing the brand to increase profits and to finance the purchase. Others to hire CEO's from major brewers after changes in ownership include Southern Tier Brewing Company and Goose Island Brewing Company.

Kopman will now oversee innovation, product sourcing, as well as relationships with partners and customers, while Pendegraft will focus on positioning the brewery for continued expansion.

"We certainly need to continue to grow," Schlafly said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, specifically citing “smart expansion” in viable markets, which now includes 14 states, D.C. and most recently, Chicago.

Production has increased to 60,000 barrels in 2014, up from 56,000 in 2013, a trend that shows no sign of slowing as the brewery searches for land to build a third production facility.