Distilled Spirits Council CEO Will Step Down at Year’s End

After nearly 16 years of service to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), CEO Dr. Peter H. Cressy announced his desire to step down at the end of 2015.

Cressy, 73, shared his decision with the DISCUS Board of Directors at its annual meeting last week, according to a press release.

“It has been a great privilege to be CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council and to have worked with such outstanding member companies whose commitment to both social responsibility and market modernization has been remarkable,” Cressy said.

A Search Committee led by DISCUS Vice Chairman and Moёt Hennessy USA CEO Jim Clerkin — and including Cressy — will begin a national search in the near future. Discussions are underway to select a search firm.

During Dr. Cressy’s tenure, the spirits industry increased its market share 25%, while supplier revenues more than doubled from $10.7 billion annually to over $23 billion. Sunday sales were passed in 17 states, for a total of 38, and liberalized tasting laws were passed in 35 states for a total of 45.

Additionally, since 2001, the Council has defeated 355 out of 384 major tax bills at the state and local level and has had zero tax increases at the federal level.

Cressy instituted a focus on evidence-based policies, utilizing sound science, and public transparency regarding the industry’s advertising and marketing Code of Responsible Practices. He also developed relationships and open lines of dialogue with regulators, government officials and leaders of industry sectors.

In addition, Cressy fought globally for reduced tariffs, open markets and fair treatment of U.S. distilled spirits in trade agreements. He also launched an export program that conducted promotions around the globe, often with the full support of U.S. ambassadors, and that contributed to over $1.6 billion in U.S. spirits exports in 2014 — the fifth straight record year.

Cressy oversaw the $1.6 million dollar reconstruction of George Washington’s Distillery at Historic Mount Vernon, including a ribbon-cutting with Britain’s Prince Andrew in 2006. He also oversaw the industry’s ongoing relationship with this estate, where its annual industry Spirit of Mount Vernon dinner has raised over $3.25 million for advancing the educational mission at Mount Vernon.

Dr. Cressy, a retired Navy Rear Admiral and a former Chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has said he intends to return to the University where he is a tenured professor of management. He also plans to continue to serve on a number of corporate and nonprofit boards.

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