Mike's Hard Lemonade Announces Leadership Change

O'Neil departing, succeeded by former Pabst exec Kotecki

Kevin Kotecki

CHICAGO -- Mike's Hard Lemonade Co. has announced the resignation of president Philip W. O'Neil effective June 4, 2012. Kevin Kotecki, former president and CEO of Pabst Brewing Co., will succeed O'Neil, who is leaving to pursue new opportunities closer to home in Southern California.

Once the transition of leadership responsibilities is complete, O'Neil will continue to serve in an advisory capacity to founder and chairman Anthony von Mandl to focus on long-term vision and strategy for the company.

"Phil has been instrumental in building the mike's hard lemonade business across the United States. We are extremely grateful for his leadership and accomplishments and welcome him as a consultant on the business. He will always be part of the mike's family," said von Mandl.

"Now is the time for our next phase of growth at mike's, and we are fortunate to have an industry veteran like Kevin Kotecki to lead the company into the future. I look forward to his fresh perspective on the business and have high expectations of what we can accomplish under his stewardship," he said.

Since joining mike's in June 2007, O'Neil has led a "remarkable turnaround" of the company resulting in five years of double-digit growth, it said. In 2010, under his leadership, mike's was named Small Company of the Year by Beverage Forum.

O'Neil leaves the company in a dominant position of strength; mike's is currently the No. 1 flavored malt beverage (FMB) across all channels including food, drug, liquor and convenience store, where mike's now holds a market share of 29% (versus 4% in 2007.) The company currently ranks eighth among the top 10 beer companies in the United States.

"With the company's recent relocation to Chicago, Anthony and I agreed that now is the optimal time to turn things over to a new leader with a fresh perspective. I have a tremendous amount of pride in the brands we have built and everything our team has accomplished at mike's, and I will undoubtedly miss it. But at the same time, I'm exhilarated at the prospect of moving on to the next phase of my career. I leave knowing the company has a bright future and is in capable hands."

Kotecki joins the company most recently from Pabst, where he held the position of president and CEO and was responsible for the turnaround of the Pabst business. Previously, he served as vice president and general manager at Coors Brewing Co. He is a proven consumer products leader with deep experience in both marketing and finance with companies such as Proctor & Gamble, the company said.

Commenting on his new role, Kotecki said, "I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the mike's team and have the opportunity to build on Phil's success. The company has an amazing track record of success in creating a loyal and growing consumer franchise, and driving superior profitability for both distributor and retail customers. Mike's is poised for a new era of growth."

Chicago-based Mike's Hard Lemonade introduced mike's hard lemonade in 1999. Mike's core product line is comprised of premium malt beverages including mike's hard lemonade, mike's Harder lemonade, mike's Harder Punch, mike's classic margarita and mike's On The Rocks.