Friday, July 07, 2006

Pyramid makes a change at the top

Brewing company, which has locations in Berkeley and Walnut Creek, chooses a new CEO from its board
By Blanca Torres
Pyramid Breweries Inc. announced Monday that its president and chief executive, John Lennon, resigned and was replaced by Scott Barnum, a longtime member of the company's board of directors.
Barnum, 50, of Atherton has spent the past four years as chief executive of Cocoa Pete's Chocolate Adventures, a Campbell-based specialty-chocolatemaker. He is former president and chief operating officer of Pete's Brewing Co., a Palo Alto-based beermaker that was acquired by Gambrinus Co., the importer of Mexico's Corona, in 1998. He has served on the Pyramid board for seven years.
Pyramid has gained popularity thanks to its Hefeweizen, which has become a staple in Bay Area bars and is "on fire," according to Barnum. The company makes more than 20 types of beer, Thomas Kemper Sodas and beer lines made by Portland Brewing, a beermaker it acquired in 2003.
The news of the CEO switch comes two months after Seattle-based Pyramid, which operates alehouses and breweries in Walnut Creek and Berkeley, reported a 10 percent increase in sales during the first quarter ended March 31.
"The entire brewing industry performed exceptionally well during the first quarter, with the craft beer category continuing to flourish," said Lennon in a statement released in April. "Benefiting from this trend and our renewed focus in sales and marketing resources, the Pyramid Brand is successfully driving sales volume and revenue growth."
Lennon joined the company in August 2004 after spending three years as chief executive of Beck's North America. His career, spanning more than two decades, includes stints with Nestle, Guinness and Diageo, a premium-alcohol company.
During his time at Pyramid, Lennon made building the brand his mission to help the company grow in the tight and competitive specialty-beer market, which comprises about 3 percent of all beer sales in the United States, according the Association of Brewers.
George Hancock, the company's chairman, said in a statement that Lennon achieved his goal and that the company appreciates his service.
Lennon declined to comment on his departure, but did mention that Pyramid is "a great brand and a great company" and that he will move back to the East Coast to join his wife and family.
The company said in a statement that Lennon planned to pursue other interests; it did not elaborate.
"We are going to build off the foundation that (John Lennon) has created," Barnum said. "At this juncture, it would premature for me to say anything. There aren't any major changes expected."
Blanca Torres covers retail and consumer issues. Reach her at 925-943-8263 or at
Age: 50
Title: President and chief executive of Pyramid Breweries Inc.
Location: Atherton
Career: Barnum comes to Pyramid from Cocoa Pete's Chocolate Adventures, a specialty-chocolate maker. He previously worked for eBay Inc., Pete's Brewing Co. and Miller Brewing Co.
Education: Bachelor's in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., and a master's of business administration from Columbia University in New York

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