Beverage alcohol executive to lead MGP Ingredients

by Josh Sosland
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ATCHISON, KAS. — Gus Griffin, a longtime executive of the beverage alcohol industry, has joined MGP Ingredients, Inc. as the company’s new president and chief executive officer, effective July 28.

Most recently executive vice-president of Next Level Spirits, a California-based maker, importer and distributor of  premium wine and spirit brands, Mr. Griffin spent the largest part of his career, a period spanning 24 years, with Brown-Forman, a global wine and spirits company with annual sales of about $4 billion.

The selection of Mr. Griffin concluded what MGPI described as an “extensive nationwide search” to fill the position vacated in December with the departure of Tim Newkirk. Mr. Newkirk’s exit ended a contentious dispute within the MGPI board. Since December, Randy Schrick, vice-president of engineering, and Don Tracy, vice-president of finance and chief financial officer, had led the company on an interim basis.

“We are very pleased and excited to welcome Gus to our company in such an important capacity,” said Cloud L. “Bud” Cray, chairman of the MGPI board. “We feel equally fortunate to have found someone who wholeheartedly embraces MGP’s philosophy and culture of teamwork and places a high value on community support and involvement, as well as effectively meeting customers’ needs.  Gus’ business credentials and achievements are extraordinarily impressive, and we have the greatest confidence in his abilities to create added value for all stakeholders as he leads MGP into the future. While his multiple talents have primarily been focused on the development and execution of beverage alcohol growth strategies, we are certain his expertise will not only greatly benefit our distilled spirits business, but our ingredients business segment as well.”

Mr. Griffin joined Brown-Forman in 1987 as a merchandising representative and held a series of brand management roles of growing responsibility from 1990 to 1997.

In the 10 years that followed, Mr. Griffin held management positions in Australia and Southern Europe as well as at the company’s Louisville headquarters. Also during this period, Mr. Griffin became vice-president and managing director for West Main Interactive, a Brown-Forman subsidiary focused on the digital and relationship marketing arena.

In 2007, Mr. Griffin was promoted to senior vice-president and global managing director for the company’s Southern Comfort brand. A year later he was named senior vice-president and managing director for the Jack Daniel’s brand franchise.

Mr. Griffin left Brown-Forman in 2011, and for the next two years was a brand and business consultant for Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Nashville, Tenn.

A Pennsylvania native, Mr. Griffin graduated from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., where he received a bachelor of arts degree in economics in 1982 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1987.
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