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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tim Owens Steps Down As CEO of Drinks Americas (DKAM)

There are those funny moments. You know, like when the lottery is at an astronomical jackpot and you find yourself clacking away at the calculator trying to figure out what you'd reap if you actually got lucky enough to be the winner of it all.

Tim Owens, former CEO of Drinks Americas Holdings which has a connection with Mexican beer maker Cerveceria Mexicana, and distributes Day of the Dead craft beer among a few other brands stepping down, opens me up to one of those moments.

I love beer, man.

Earlier I was writing about the success of The Boston Beer Company and the one thing that makes Samuel Adams a great brand, and The Boston Beer Company a great company. It's Jim Koch and his love and passion for making great beer.

He's also quite keen on how to effectively run a company. That helps greatly too.

Drinks Americas Holdings has made some decent inroads getting its beer into various retail outlets such as The Fresh Market, Kroger, Walmart, and Walgreens. Even some 7-Eleven stores have taken to stocking Day of the Dead craft beer. When you're small, this is a big step. Unfortunately the company's stock price has suffered, and the company has had difficulty really turning the Day of the Dead brand into something spectacular.

I think it can be.

But that will take the leadership of someone like a Jim Koch. Someone who has a passion for beer, and who knows how to both bring that beer to market, and turn Drinks Americas into a strong player in its industry.

Day of the Dead and Drinks Americas has been a story more than 6-years in the making in a sector of the brewing industry that for many other companies has been the fastest growing sector for a very long time. When you are in beer, and enjoying double digit growth, that's something to be happy about.

So why hasn't Drinks Americas gotten there? I think, and while I am not begrudging Tim Owens, that his guidance simply was not enough to drive the company forward. His reasons for leaving were disclosed as "concerns over health issues." But I tend to think there is more behind the scenes that is happening that lead Mr. Owens to his decision than is being told.

Most of the Board of Directors is gone aside from Moreno, who is now the interim CEO of the company.

What is says to me is that there is sea change occurring. And I think with the inroads already made, fresh blood might be exactly what the doctor ordered to take this company to the next level.

It won't be easy. In order to attract talent at the CEO level you need to lay an attractive enough offer on the table. Especially if you may want to try and get someone into the CEO's seat who has a strong background with a major product launch with a larger company.

It's what made me think, just for a second. Yes. I do in fact love beer. Heck, I could probably buy the lion's share of this company and just seat myself. But what the heck do I know? I like drinking beer, and while I am passionate about the world of marketing and business, I am an investor. Not a businessman. So of course, that would not be nearly enough to take Drinks Americas to the next level as enticing as the prospect would be to at least try and do it.

I am confident that Moreno has some ideas as to where he wants to take the company next. But even still, I won't be adding any shares to my position until I know who the new CEO will be, and until I hear his ideas and get a clear view of his vision for where he plans to go with the brands and the company as a whole.

In the meantime I suppose I can sit back, crack open a cold one, and ponder the possibilities.


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