Breakthru Beverage Group Announces National Accounts’ Leadership Team Hires

Breakthru Beverage Group has bolstered its National Accounts’ Leadership Team with the promotion of Gus Bozzo to Executive Vice President, National Accounts — a newly elevated position reporting directly to COO E. Lloyd Sobel — and the appointment of four senior leaders reporting to Bozzo.

Gus Bozzo

The expanded team allows the company to drive an increased focus on retail, on-premise, category development and national account client services, the company says. Today, national retail and on-premise customers account for nearly 30% of Breakthru’s overall beverage alcohol sales nationally.

“The investment in and expansion of our National Accounts team allows us to strengthen our position in a consolidating and demand-driven environment and establish a nimbler and more efficient service model across our North American footprint,” says Greg Baird, President and CEO of Breakthru Beverage Group. “This includesdeeper channel and customer focus, enhanced trade marketing, compliance and pricing management, e-tail capabilities, increased data and robust analytical capabilities. By better adapting to the changing market dynamics, we will drive incremental value for our suppliers and customers.”

Breakthru’s strategic moves are aimed to create a deeper customer focus through strategies that drive transformation from selling products to selling total beverage solutions and leveraging data to expand insights and reach.

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The newly filled positions include:

  • New to Breakthru, Ezra Henson will serve as Vice President, National Accounts Category Development, where he will lead the development and implementation of Breakthru’s 2020 Category Strategy and organizational design. Previously, Henson spent 10 years with Constellation Brands, most recently serving as Senior Director in Category Leadership, overseeing the Walmart and Sam’s Club accounts for Constellation’s beer, wine and spirits portfolio.
  • Joining the National Accounts team from within Breakthru, Cristina Desmond will serve as Vice President, National Accounts Retail. In this role she will oversee a team of national account directors and managers to develop and execute growth strategies with suppliers and customers. Desmond has been with Breakthru (via Charmer Sunbelt) since 2002, and most recently served as Vice President, Marketing, Sales & Promotions for Breakthru Beverage Pennsylvania.
  • Also new to Breakthru, Mike Maihen will serve as Breakthru’s Vice President, National Accounts On- Premise, where he will guide strategy and sales efforts to grow volume and value share. Maihen has spent the last 25 years with Brown Forman, where he has held leadership roles with increasing responsibility including Director of Retail Field Sales – U.S. National Accounts and Division Portfolio Manager.
  • Chris Houk will serve as Vice President, National Accounts Client Services. He will be responsible for leading the trade marketing, supplier digital platform, customer analytics and compliance across National Accounts. Houk assumes this position from within Breakthru, where he served as Director of Sales in Corporate Chains for Breakthru Illinois United Division. He has more than 15 years of experience in the beverage alcohol industry, including several years with Diageo before joining Breakthru Beverage Illinois in 2014.

“We are excited to bolster our team with a significant increase in resourcing and further build out of specialization in a number of key strategic areas,” says Sobel. “Combining expertise with market-based specialization helps us ensure we are driving success for customers nationally and locally with leading execution and compliance. We continue to make major investments in our people along with analytics, data and technology to enhance and accelerate overall business performance for Breakthru and our partners.”

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