irginia ABC CEO Travis Hill speaks during an ABC Board of directors meeting on March 20, 2023. (Meghan McIntyre/Virginia Mercury)
Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority CEO Travis Hill is stepping down from his role, nearly two months after Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration criticized ABC’s rising operating costs and declining profits.
“It has been an honor to be a part of reimagining and innovating Virginia ABC in service to the commonwealth of Virginia,” stated Hill in a Thursday morning press release in which he announced he had informed Youngkin of his decision to leave. “I know the authority is well positioned to play an integral role in continuing to make Virginia a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
After joining ABC in 2014 as its chief operating officer, Hill started leading the state-owned liquor monopoly in 2018 during its transition from an agency to an authority. That change exempted ABC from certain state requirements, allowing it more flexibility to run like a business.
“Travis has helped ABC navigate the complex transition from a department to an authority, led the push to modernize operations and established a new state-of-the-art distribution center,” said ABC Board Chairman Tim Hugo in the release. “ABC and Virginia will always owe Travis Hill a great debt for his outstanding tenure at the helm.”
This July, Youngkin administration officials told ABC’s Board of Directors that while the authority has undergone significant change and investments in recent years, it isn’t generating the additional funding for Virginia that was originally intended when the General Assembly approved the shift away from an agency.
According to the administration, the authority’s profits and contributions to state coffers have declined in recent years while operating costs have increased $135 million since 2017.
“We understood that doing these investments would come at a cost for reduced profit growth,” Hill said during the meeting. “It was certainly understood that it was going to help us in the long term.”
Hill’s decision also follows the recent resignations of the authority’s chief transformation officer and director of communications.
Last month, Hill informed ABC employees in an internal email that Chief Transformation Officer Elizabeth Chu would step down from her role this September. Chu started working at the authority in October 2021.
“While Elizabeth thrived in building a solid foundation for successful ABC transformations now and into the future, she is taking time off to focus on her family,” he said.
In the weeks leading up to Hill’s departure in November, the CEO told ABC employees in an internal email that he “will work with the Youngkin administration and our board of directors to facilitate a smooth transition that places Virginia ABC in a position to realize the opportunities before us.”
ABC intends to conduct a nationwide search for Hill’s replacement.
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