Pete Carr: Building growth as president of Bacardi North America
As president of Bacardi North America, Pete Carr oversees the stateside operations of the largest privately held, family-owned spirits company on the planet. It’s a demanding job that starts before the sun rises and concludes hours after sunset.
“My days either start in an airport or in a gym here,” he said. “It usually ends at a bar, having a cocktail, listening to people or talking to bartenders so I can get their insights and ideas. Our best ideas don’t come from consultants. They come from people that serve our brands, day in, day out.”
In the hours between, he said, “it’s crazy,” full of meetings, strategic planning, data analyses and communications with other leaders in the company, which in its 158 years has developed a portfolio of more than 200 brands and labels, including key acquisitions like Patrón tequila, Grey Goose vodka and Bombay Sapphire gin.
Each brand is marketed differently, based on its unique history and cultural connections across the world. Culture is vital in marketing and creating brand loyalty, he said, but it’s also equally as important in running a company like Bacardi.
“You hear that culture trumps strategy any day of the week. As a matter of fact, it eats it for lunch, once you get the culture right within an organization,” he said. “We have a 96% rating of engagement with our primos – the employees at work here – because it’s all family, which is phenomenal. It all starts with how you treat people, what opportunities you give them to develop.”
In that same “spirit,” Bacardi this year donated $5 million to Florida International University to create a new education program tailored to the spirits industry.
The new program, set to launch at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, is “a great opportunity for” the company to give back to the community while also helping Bacardi brands to be many drinkers’ first choice for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages alike.
“What better way to get young bartenders, teach them how to make cocktails and then go out into the hospitality business?” he said. “They end up in a bar, a restaurant – at the Fontainebleau – and Bacardi is the perfect pair for that.”
Mr. Carr sat down with reporter Jesse Scheckner.
The interview, recorded by Jahmoukie Dayle, can be viewed below.
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