SAUGATUCK, Mich. (WOOD) — Saugatuck Brewing Company’s new CEO is ready to grow the business and meet changing consumer trends.
John Miller is taking over as the new president and CEO, the company announced earlier this month. He has decades of experience in the beer industry, having started in it right after college.
He worked for Anheuser-Busch for 22 years and most recently worked as the general manager and operating partner of Double Eagle Distributing. He’s told News 8 he loves the fast-paced environment of the industry.
“I can make a living selling beer, are you kidding me?” he joked. “It’s a fun business, it’s a fast moving business, it’s very consumer focused. And so I’ve always found that to be interesting as trends change and people’s drink decisions change.”
He said that people’s ‘taste profiles’ are changing, so he’s going to work with their brewing and marketing team to “re-envision our portfolio.”
“(We’ll) do what we do really well and continue to do that, but not be afraid to stretch ourselves beyond what we normally do,” he said. “There’s a lot of exciting opportunity out there … consumers are demanding some unique beers. … When you’ve got the brewery team that we have here, there’s nothing they can’t do.”
Miller said his focus will be the local community, but he’s also looking to expand in markets like Chicago, Indiana and Ohio.
“I plan as a company to double down on some of those markets, because I think there’s a tremendous amount of brand equity. People understand, they know what Saugatuck is. They know what Western Michigan’s all about.”
He said there’s a handful of markets that are “special” when it comes to beer, and West Michigan is at the top of that list.
“There’s just a long history and passion in the beer that they brew here,” Miller said. “It’s just one of those markets where the people really support their local products and there’s a lot of pride in the products they make and a lot of history.”
As a beer drinker himself, he tends to prefer lagers, “but I’m working in a company like this where we’ve got such an amazing portfolio. I’ve really been branching out into some of our stouts and some of our IPAs. … I’m fortunate enough to work with a company that’s got a whole portfolio kind of ranging the whole gamut.”
The people of Saugatuck Brewing are great, he said, and he’s excited to be a part of the team. Miller is taking over for Ric Gillette, who has served as the president and CEO since 2009.
Saugatuck Brewing also has a new CFO, Brad Mixan.
“I’ve been homebrewing for more than 30 years now and in the financial world for almost 25 years, so being able to combine those two passions has been so rewarding,” Mixan said in a release.