Thirty-year food and beverage veteran Tom Bené will serve as the new president and CEO of Breakthru Beverage Group. Beginning Oct. 4, Bené will steer the total beverage alcohol distributor through its next phase of growth and expansion.
Bené joins Breakthru Beverage Group from his most recent role as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and, before that, as chairman, president and CEO of foodservice distributor Sysco Corp., where he helped the company grow global sales to more than $60 billion. He also spent 23 years at PepsiCo, working his way up to roles as president of PepsiCo Foodservice and president of PepsiCo North American Beverages.
According to Charles Merinoff, co-chairman of Breakthru Beverage’s board of managers, Bené’s background and skills align with the organization’s goals, structure and people. “Tom has a demonstrated history of leading organizations through periods of exceptional growth and innovation. His transparent, compassionate and inspirational leadership style struck us immediately, and we’re excited for him to continue building Breakthru’s culture of excellence and inclusivity,” he said.
“Tom brings invaluable expertise in distribution strategy and supplier and customer partnerships," added W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz, board co-chairman. "We are confident that he will advance Breakthru’s position as an industry leader as we implement our growth strategy and continue to transform our business.”
Bené joins other highly pedigreed leaders at Breakthru Beverage Group, which provides a broad portfolio of premium spirts, wine and beer brands totaling more than $5 billion in annual sales. Principal founder and co-chairman Wirtz led his family’s beverage business, Wirtz Beverage Group, serves as chairman of Wirtz Corp. and is principal owner of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team and co-owner of the United Center indoor arena in Chicago. Merinoff, principal founder and co-chairman of Breakthru Beverage Group, was previously chairman and CEO of the family-owned Charmer Sunbelt Group.
Breakthru Beverage’s retiring president and CEO Greg Baird will serve as a company advisor supporting Bené’s transition through the end of the year. Breakthru Beverage Group has corporate offices in New York, N.Y., Cicero, Ill., near Chicago, and Linthicum Heights, Md.