By Published on .

Joe Martino, who went from sales and marketing jobs for the nation's top two beer companies directly to a stop in a federal prison, has been named the new marketing and sales chief of G. Heileman Brewing Co. as the brewer readies substantial changes to its product portfolio.

Mr. Martino in 1988 was found guilty of conspiracy and filing a false tax return while at Anheuser-Busch. Heileman said last week he had "paid his debt to society" in serving a 10-month, 10-day sentence.

"Mr. Martino was a young man when the events occurred of which he was accused and convicted," said a company spokesman. "What is past is past, and we have absolute confidence that Joe's conduct will be above reproach. We hired him based on his outstanding qualifications and are delighted to have him aboard."

Mr. Martino was convicted at age 38 of taking kickbacks from suppliers while head of sales for the nation's largest brewer. But observers at the time said Anheuser-Busch pursued him and two others, in part, because Mr. Martino left the company and, in part, because of their vocal, though never-proved charges that other A-B executives had taken kickbacks.

At the time of his trial in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Mr. Martino was VP-marketing for Miller Brewing Co.

Since 1990, Mr. Martino has been president of Homestar, a St. Louis manufacturer and retailer of aluminum siding products.

Heileman said Mr. Martino, who started Dec. 5, has the new post of senior executive-sales and brand marketing. He has been reunited with Tom Koehler, former VP-sales at Miller and now Heileman's senior VP-sales.

Heileman Co-CEO Russell Cleary said Mr. Martino "has a unique background in the brewing industry, having successfully held high-level executive positions at the nation's two largest brewers. Joe's marketing skills are widely recognized, and he is respected by beer wholesalers throughout the industry."

Mr. Martino's arrival follows the departure of Jim Dwyer as senior VP-marketing and the upcoming departure of group brand manager Chick Powell, who was in charge of Colt 45 malt liquor. Mr. Martino joins the brewer as Heileman moves to improve the mix of its regional brand portfolio, which has traditionally been subject to heavy discounting.

Chairman and Co-CEO William Turner last week offered new details of Heileman's plans to market higher-price extensions of its popular-price and premium-price brands next year. He said the new brands would include an Old Style Grenadier in the Midwest, Rainier Yakima in the Northwest and Lone Star Sabinas in Texas. The beers will be advertised through the Richards Group, Dallas.

Heileman has already started marketing Henry Weinhard Boar's Head Red beer nationally-its first attempt to market a superpremium complement for a premium brew.

Most Popular
In this article: