Blaze Life Holdings (BLH) has tapped Anheuser-Busch veteran Shreyas Balakrishnan as CEO. Balakrishnan's nearly 20-year career at Anheuser-Busch (AB) spanned leadership positions across Brewing and Distillery Operations, Distribution, Sales, and M&A. Since 2019, Balakrishnan has served as President of Cutwater Spirits, acquired by AB in 2019. Under his leadership, Cutwater Spirits has become the #1 RTD Cocktail Brand in the U.S. - with distribution in all 50 states and internationally (UK, Canada, Australia). Prior to Cutwater, Balakrishnan served Elysian Brewing Co. as President and General Manager, where he took a regional brand based in Seattle and orchestrated its national expansion. Under his leadership, Space Dust IPA quickly ascended to become the fastest-growing IPA in the U.S.
BLH's renewed focus on distribution comes at a critical inflection point in the California cannabis market, with brands and suppliers fleeing the state and dominant Distributors folding almost overnight. BLH is modeling its route to market operations more off the regulated alcohol industry and three-tier system than the fragmented supply chain of the current cannabis industry.
In his role as CEO, Balakrishnan will lead BLH as it accelerates its efforts in beverage manufacturing, distribution, and brand development. "I am grateful for the invaluable experiences and skills gained over the last two decades at Anheuser-Busch," said Shreyas Balakrishnan. "The deeply ingrained culture of ownership and not taking shortcuts carry over to my journey into the dynamic cannabis industry and my role in scaling the companies of Blaze Life Holdings. I'm extremely excited to be helping lead and shape the future of cannabis beverages alongside the incredible team at BLH."
BLH's Delta Bev co-packing facility is scheduled to begin production in Q4 2023. The Canoga Park Los Angeles facility will be the world's largest cannabis beverage manufacturing plant - with 14 times the capacity of the current California market. As part of its efforts to optimize the supply chain, BLH's distribution arm, SuLo Distro, will operate out of the Canoga Park facility - solving for first-mile movement and the significant warehousing costs currently burdening the market.