Breakthru News

Breakthru Beverage Group Appoints Tom Bené as President and CEO

Breakthru Beverage News

Aug. 31, 2021

Breakthru Beverage Group, a leading North American total beverage alcohol distributor with operations across the United States and Canada, today announced the Board of Managers has appointed Tom Bené as President and CEO, effective October 4, 2021. As Breakthru’s leader, Tom will advance the next phase of the company’s evolution focusing on growth and expansion, accelerating technology and innovation and executing with excellence for supplier and customer partners.

Drawing on more than 30 years of leadership experience, Tom has a proven track record of driving growth and modernizing business models throughout his career. Most recently, Tom has served as President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. Previously, he served as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sysco Corporation, the global leader in foodservice distribution. Prior to that, he served as President of PepsiCo’s foodservice business.

Charles Merinoff, Co-Chairman of the Board of Managers, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Tom to Breakthru Beverage as our next President and CEO. 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.”

W. Rockwell Wirtz, Co-Chairman of the Board of Managers, stated, “Tom brings invaluable expertise in distribution strategy and supplier and customer partnerships. 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.”

As President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, Tom drove organizational and governance changes to improve overall engagement with its membership. In this important role, 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. While leading Sysco, Tom oversaw international expansion and numerous acquisitions, primarily of family-owned businesses, adding significant revenue to the top line. During Tom’s tenure, the company grew sales to more than $60B across a variety of countries. Prior to joining Sysco in 2013, Tom spent 23 years at PepsiCo, serving in senior leadership roles including President of PepsiCo Foodservice and President of PepsiCo North American Beverages. Tom earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas and is currently a member of the University of Kansas Business School Advisory Board. He previously served on the Board of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and has been an active member of a variety of charitable organizations, including the United Way.

Danny Wirtz, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Managers, said, “We are impressed with Tom’s leadership track record and his desire to embrace our multigenerational legacy of service and commitment to our people, portfolio and culture. We’re confident that he will enhance our key stakeholder relationships and take our organization to the next level.”

Tom said, “I’m very excited to join Breakthru at such an important time for the company. 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 Tom’s transition through the end of the year. 

Charles added, “On behalf of the Board of Managers, I’d like to share my heartful gratitude to Greg for his leadership and achievements. 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.”

About Breakthru Beverage Group

Breakthru Beverage Group is one of the leading alcohol wholesalers in the United States and the largest broker in Canada representing a full total beverage alcohol portfolio of spirits, wine and beer. Breakthru is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and supports a wide range of notable organizations as well as local charitable initiatives across its North American footprint.  Across all markets, Breakthru aligns a nimble and insightful approach to sales, marketing and operations. Family ownership is active in the business and committed to being stewards of heritage and champions of innovation. For more information, visit