Amid record sales growth, Armada-based cidery Blake’s Hard Cider has named Robert Sharpe COO.
A University of Michigan finance graduate who also holds a Master of Business Administration from George Washington University, Sharpe previously served on Blake’s board of directors. Sharpe’s day-to-day responsibilities will include designing and implementing business operations, establishing policies that promote company culture and vision, and overseeing operations of the company.
“Together with my brother Pete, we believe that Bob’s experience and guidance will be one of the final pieces to help us maximize and support the amazing talent of all of our truly valued employees,” says Paul Blake, co-founder of Blake’s Family of Co. “From the family’s perspective, we know our company has grown to a point that our team needs and deserves the structured leadership and guidance Bob will provide in order to achieve our vision for the Blake Family of Co. We are truly blessed to have him join us.”
Sharpe is the founder of TriPower Capital and SharpeView Ventures and was most recently the COO of the automated business funding platform Kabbage Inc. Bringing more than 10 years of experience in corporate finance and commercial banking, Sharpe has also been involved in philanthropic ventures throughout his career and currently serves on the board of the Isdell Center for Global Leadership.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to join the Blake’s team in this leadership role,” says Sharpe. “The company is experiencing dynamic growth in all aspects, and I look forward to using my skill set to make an impact on the continued success of the company. The Blake’s team has created a performance culture with tremendous respect for each other.”
This move comes in a time of sales growth for the company, as Blake’s Hard Cider finished the first quarter of 2020 up more than 60 percent in sales and hard cider shipments. According to IRI data through the end of March, Blake’s is up 94 percent with national and regional chains and 59 percent with independent retailers. Despite shelter-in-place orders and closing retailers affecting much of Blake’s market, the company has seen more than 30 percent market sales growth since mid-March.
“The times we are currently experiencing have a way of focusing everyone on what truly matters in life and in business,” says Andrew Blake, president of Blake’s Family of Co. “I am proud of the way the team has adjusted. Thanks to online shipping and our distributor and retail partners, our fans are still able to enjoy their favorite ciders. At the orchard, the team has worked tirelessly to support our local community by producing hand sanitizer, providing free meals to school children in need, offering drive-thru pickup, and supplying unique offerings like cider mill baked goods and our popular farm share program.”