Duvel Moortgat and Boulevard Brewing hire a new president

Seraf De Smedt

Seraf De Smedt. // Courtesy Duvel Moortgat

Duvel Moortgat USA, the parent company of Boulevard Brewing Company, announced that Seraf De Smedt will take over as president of the U.S. operation effective immediately. De Smedt previously served as the chief finance and administration officer for Duvel Moortgat since 2013. 

In his new role, De Smedt will work with the Duvel U.S. leadership team while continuing his oversight of the Duvel global finance team.

John McDonald, founder of Boulevard Brewing Company will return to retirement with this transition. McDonald was operating as interim president of Duvel in late January after Boulevard and its parent company were wrapped up in a scandal about workplace abuse at the brewery

“Since Boulevard became part of the Duvel Moortgat family of breweries in late 2013, Seraf has been an instrumental leader for our company,” said McDonald. “He has always worked closely with our U.S. operations, so having him take over the reins as president gives me great confidence that we are set up for a successful future. Seraf’s leadership style is collaborative and thoughtful. Combined with his finger on the pulse of the company from a global perspective, I retire knowing this next chapter for our company will be led exceptionally.”

In his new role, De Smedt will split his time between Belgium and the U.S. The U.S. leadership team will oversee daily operations for the U.S. breweries and the national sales team. 

Leading that team are Boulevard veterans Bobby Dykstra, executive vice president of sales and marketing; Rick DeBar, general manager of Brewery Ommegang; Steven Pauwels, brewmaster of Boulevard; Dali Grabar, director of engineering for Boulevard; Julie Weeks, vice president of communications and culture; and Stephanie Walker, the new director of human resources.

After the Boulevard harassment scandal, both Dykstra and McDonald spoke to The Pitch and accepted responsibility for the workplace abuse and rampant sexism. Dykstra went so far as to describe the situation as a “multi-system failure.”

McDonald came back to Boulevard after the brewery’s top executive, Jeff Krum, resigned in the midst of public backlash. After Krum—who had a direct hand in ignoring the workplace harassment—resigned employees released a statement discussing how Krum added to the toxic and harmful work environment at the brewery. In the letter, employees said Krum’s personality characterized the company with “his indifference, ego, pride and lack of humanity.” 

As part of his return to Boulevard, McDonald promised to remain at the company until the brewery had a leader they could count on. In the video, McDonald also said that firing the executives and employees responsible for the abuse was a tough decision. In talking with The Pitch, McDonald then said that he wanted to make sure Boulevard was a safe and exciting place to work. As part of doing so, he implemented new conduct training and hired Stephanie Walker, the new director of HR. 

“I look forward to the adventures ahead and want to wholeheartedly thank John for the crucial role he played these past months,” says De Smedt. “He leaves big shoes to fill, so I count on the entire leadership team to do so with me.”

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