The man at the helm of Darling Brew & our Managing Director
Managing Director Tewie Roos boarded the good ship Darling Brew as Managing Director in January 2020. Some may call this bad luck just before COVID-19, but we like to think that it was the most fortuitous thing that could possibly have happened.
See, if there was anyone who was up to the challenge of navigating a South African craft beer brand through the storm of COVID-19 lockdowns that were to come, it was this seasoned captain of industry.
Born and bred in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal, Tewie gained his tertiary degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pretoria in 1994 and cut his teeth working for SAB, which provided a fantastic foundation for his subsequent career in the FMCG industry.
Over the course of the next 27 years, he filled various international roles, gaining vast experience living and working with different cultures, and encountering unique business challenges in every country in which he resided.
This included assignments in Tanzania, where he worked as Group Engineer for TBL, and Nigeria, which he accessed with protected entry to manage the Krones agency in West Africa. This was no small feat - anyone who knows anything about business will tell you that Nigeria is a tough nut to crack.
However, within three years Tewie had managed against all odds to get the business triple-bottom-line compliant, generate 400% growth and receive a clean report on all business transactions. In fact, Krones Germany was so impressed that they bought the agency back since it had by then exceeded the South African subsidiaries’ turnover.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the bold moves that Tewie has made throughout his career. However, the Nigeria job is important, because this is where he made the connection with Mario Delicio, who also happens to be the main investor in none other than Darling Brew, and approached him to hold his current position.
Tewie believes that the strength of the Darling Brew brand is rooted in its strong team and the innovative spirit that runs throughout the business.
"The various commercial- and operational roles I held at executive management level within the brewing- and beverage manufacturing sectors across various international brands provided me with the opportunity to learn from the best in the industry. In this way, I was able to assess and retain strategies that worked well in both developed- and emerging markets across Africa, Eastern Europe, Europe, and the Middle East.
"The most important thing I learned in this time, which rings true across all continents and industries, is that the strength of the team you build will always be your distinguishing factor. Technology can be bought and can give a business a tremendous competitive advantage if it is correctly utilised and maintained, but the attitude and aptitude of your teams determine the quality and sustainability of your operations," he explains.
When COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and the South African alcohol trade ground to a halt due to hard lockdown measures implemented by the government, the Darling Brew team buckled down and innovated where they could, with Tewie's expert guidance.
"The various levels of COVID-19 lockdowns that impacted the alcohol sales and industry, in general, played a pivotal role in how we steered our business over the last two years," says Tewie.
"During the first round of hard lockdown, we did a risk analysis and started developing three new non-alcoholic beverages. It also gave rise to our Lockdown Lager, which was an unfiltered trial run for JUST Beer premium lager that has now been brought to market. A limited amount was manufactured and sold in numbered bottles.
"Additionally, we shifted our focus to our social media channels, to develop those appropriately and finetune our messaging, along with a strong push in terms of online sales by means of a user-friendly e-commerce platform and refreshed web presence in general."
Tewie says that he is very proud of how hard the whole team worked extremely during each level of lockdown to ensure that the business continued to develop, and cut any needless expenses without retrenching any of its valued personnel.
"It is this continued determination and innovative spirit that has allowed us to band together and thrive despite all the challenges that have come our way. The future looks bright for Darling Brew with this team in its corner," says the proud Managing Director of Darling Brew.