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March 1, 2018 | last updated March 1, 2018 1:35 pm

Maine Beer Co. hires a CEO to take it to 'next level'

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Daniel, left, and David Kleban, co-owners of Maine Beer Co. in Freeport, have hired a craft brewery veteran to be the company's CEO. The brothers, who are members of the Mainebiz 2017 Next List, said the hiring of Steve Mills will help their company keep pace with its rapid growth.

Maine Beer Co. has hired as its CEO a craft brewery veteran with more than two decades in the industry and management experience that will help the Freeport brewer keep pace with its rapid expansion.

Steve Mills comes to Maine Beer from Uinta, a Utah brewery that sold more than 93,000 barrels last year. Mills starts this week, according to Anne Marisic, marketing and events coordinator for Maine Beer.

She said Mills' presence will add management depth to the growing company.

"We went from six people and 3,000 barrels to a staff of 35," she said Thursday morning. The company expects to produce about 18,000 barrels this year, co-owner and founder David Kleban told Brewbound magazine.

The company is wrapping up a 24,000-square-foot expansion of its U.S. Route 1 Freeport brewery, and adding a 30,000-square-foot storage and distribution site in Westbrook.

Marisic said the company wants to take advantage of its potential, while maintaining its commitment to its "do what's right" philosophy, as well as commitment to quality, staff and customers.

Maine Beer Co. was founded by brothers David and Dan Kleban in 2009, and moved into space on Industrial Way in Portland in 2010. It moved to Freeport in 2013. The Kleban brothers were among Mainebiz's 2017 Next honorees.

Dan Kleban in October said the business was growing so fast it was hard to keep up. "We can't make any more beer," he told Mainebiz. "We're busting at the seams."

David Kleban told Brewbound the rapid growth "is not something we anticipated … We're not professional managers, and we admit that."

Marisic said the company needed someone who could be at the brewery to oversee the day-to-day operation as the Klebans find their commitments increasing.

"Steve brings a really great background," she said, as well as understanding what is important to the company.

Mills told Brewbound he's known the Klebans "from the beginning."

"They had such awesome vision for what they wanted Maine Beer to be," he said, citing its focus on the customer, "exceptional quality," and the fact it's part of the 1% For the Planet program, in which 1% of its revenues go to charitable partners, most of which are focused on the environment.

"And look at what they've built," he said. "It's all about doing what's right. I'm looking forward to contributing wherever I can."

Uinta, like Maine Beer Co., began in a garage, in 1993. The company has distribution in more than 30 states, and sold partial ownership to a private equity firm, The Riverside Co., in 2014, shortly before Mills became CEO.

Mills was vice president of sales and distribution for Duvel Moortgat USA, a division of the Belgian brewer; prior to that, he held executive positions at a Duvel Moortgat company, Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City, Mo., according to his LinkedIn profile.

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