Food & Drinks

NRA’s Tom Bené SteppingDown To Run Breakthru Beverage Group | Cheers

Tom Bené, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, has resigned from his post to become president and CEO of national beverage alcohol distributor Breakthru Beverage Group. Marvin Irby, the association’s chief financial officer and chief people officer, will serve as interim CEO.

As Breakthru’s leader, Bené will advance the next phase of the company’s evolution focusing on growth and expansion, the company says, accelerating technology and innovation.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tom to Breakthru Beverage as our next President and CEO,” says Charles Merinoff, co-chairman of Breakthru’s Board of Managers. “Tom has a demonstrated history of leading organizations through periods of exceptional growth and innovation. His transparent, compassionate and inspirational leadership style struck us immediately, and we’re excited for him to continue building Breakthru’s culture of excellence and inclusivity.”

At the National Restaurant Association, which he joined in June 2020, Bené drove organizational and governance changes to improve overall engagement with its membership, the company says. He worked with large national restaurant brands and local operators in the restaurant, foodservice and alcohol beverage industries to navigate the impact of Covid-19.

For Sysco, Bené oversaw international expansion and numerous acquisitions, primarily of family-owned businesses, adding revenue to the top line.

“Tom brings invaluable expertise in distribution strategy and supplier and customer partnerships,” says W. Rockwell Wirtz, co-chairman of the Board of Managers. “We are confident that he will advance Breakthru’s position as an industry leader as we implement our growth strategy and continue to transform our business.”


Prior to joining Sysco in 2013, Bené spent 23 years at PepsiCo. He served in senior leadership roles including President of PepsiCo Foodservice and President of PepsiCo North American Beverages.

“I’m very excited to join Breakthru at such an important time for the company,” says Bené. “Breakthru’s strong positioning in the marketplace provides a springboard to accelerate growth. I look forward to working with the Board of Managers and the company’s talented leadership team and associates to capture the many opportunities ahead and exceed expectations for our suppliers and customers.”

To ensure a smooth transition, President and CEO Greg Baird will serve as an advisor to the company, supporting Bené’s transition through the end of the year.

“On behalf of the Board of Managers, I’d like to share my heartful gratitude to Greg for his leadership and achievements,” says Merinoff. “His steadfast commitment to our suppliers, customers and associates has set the foundation for Breakthru’s tremendous future. We wish him the very best in his upcoming retirement and look forward to celebrating his contributions to Breakthru.”

This follows recent news from Breakthru, the new distribution of CBD beverages, and the passing of Emeritus Raymond R. Herrmann.

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