Industry News

Ninkasi Brewing Announces New CEO

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Ninkasi Brewing Company co-founder Nikos Ridge is stepping down as CEO, with Cheryl Collins stepping into the role of new chief executive officer effective May 1, 2017. Nikos founded the brewery in 2006 with Jamie Floyd, who now serves as the traveling founding brewer abroad. Nikos is not leaving, though; he will take on the role of brewery president and remain on the board.

More from a press release:

Ninkasi is now the 33rd  largest craft brewery in the United States with operations based in Eugene, Ore. (Brewers Association, 2016). Since its beginning, Ridge has been at the brewery’s helm moving from roles in production and sales to directing and leading day-to-day responsibilities as the company’s CEO.


“The first 10 years of Ninkasi were about inventing ourselves as a company: bringing to life the vision Jamie and I both had, to now a brewery employing over 100 people,” says Ridge. “The next chapter of Ninkasi is about taking the capabilities and teams we’ve built and aligning them even more to better serve our customers and craft beer fans.”


Current chief operations officer, Cheryl Collins, began her career with Ninkasi in 2012 and has held senior roles at the brewery including VP of organizational development and chief people officer. With over a decade of organizational leadership experience, Collins has been recognized for her exceptional contributions to organizational development: she received the Recruiter of the Year Award from the University of Oregon, the Manager of the Year Award from the Willamette Chapter Credit Union Association, and two national awards from the Credit Union National Association for development and execution of training programs. She has been featured in industry publications as a thought leader for small business best practices and last year appeared as the keynote speaker at the Oregon Manufacturers’ Summit.


“Nikos and Jamie have done an amazing job building Ninkasi to what it is today; it’s an immense honor to become the next CEO,” states Collins.  “I look forward to continuing our commitment to our core purpose– Perpetuate Better Living—and working with our teams to develop innovative approaches to how we do business.”


During her time at Ninkasi Collins spearheaded employee recruitment, training and onboarding programs, implemented Continuous Improvement strategies and best practices across brewery operations, fostered teambuilding activities to nurture organizational culture, implemented safety protocols and initiatives, facilitated leadership development, contributed to employer branding, and helped oversee the leadership and implementation of company strategies.


“Cheryl has worked closely with every department across Ninkasi and is a pivotal force in pushing our teams to their full potential,” says Ridge. “Her leadership, coaching and strategic focus make this transition an obvious step forward.”


“It’s inspiring to be a part of a community with the level of commitment and engagement we see here at Ninkasi,” explains Collins. “You feel, believe and know you are part of something bigger than yourself; that level of inspiration is what we strive for every day.”


“This transition marks a milestone as we continue to evolve into a more mature company,” states Ridge. “Now that we have established ourselves with world class brewing facilities and an exceptional team, Cheryl’s leadership will focus on strengthening our capabilities in an ever-changing industry.”


Effective May 1, 2017, Ridge will assume the role of president and will remain a member of the brewery’s board, contributing to company strategy while deepening his daily focus into operational and strategic improvements.


Read more about additional changes on-tap at Ninkasi on the official Ninkasi blog.

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: [email protected]

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