OUR

team

Meet the team behind the relentless work.

jeff ernst

Chief Left Brain

Jeff fell into the spirits industry by a fortunate accident five years ago after three decades of entrepreneurial, national business development, and marketing leadership in various lifestyle industries including golf, skiing, cycling, and custom motorcycles as well as technology and higher education. Upon his entry into the spirits industry, he quickly discovered his intense passion for all things agave. Within a few years, he had established himself as a well-regarded industry leader and expert in the sector. As the Chief Left Brain of PKGD Group, Jeff leads the portfolio and strategic direction as well as overseeing the G4 and El Bandido Yankee brands. In the rare instance, he isn’t working, Jeff considers cycling, coffee, and cuisine his vices.

Shawn Miller

Chief Right Brain

30 years of varied business experience in Sales & Marketing, Training, and Entrepreneurship with companies as large as Caterpillar and as small as his family’s FLEX Fitness Center, which is one of the top independent weightlifting gyms in the world. Best-Selling Author of The New Face of Your Brand and tracked by some services among the top 0.1% of Social Influencers, Shawn has been a leader in Social Media Marketing since the creation of Social Media. Helped to launch G4 Tequila outside of Mexico, to 38 States and 7 countries in two years. As the Managing Member of PKGD Group, Shawn manages the HQ in Michigan and ensures that the back end of the business is as sound and accountable as the front end.

Mark Sorelle

Partner, VP South Region

Over 30 years of experience in the spirits industry.  Ranging from a mixologist, distributor sales management, supplier management, chain management, national sales, marketing consultant, brand creation and development, importer to the brand owner. As a Managing Member of PKGD Group, Mark manages our distributors and market managers in the Southwest Region for PKGD Group and our national chain manager. He is also the PKGD Brand Manager for Lobos 1707, Alkkemist Gin, and Saint Liberty Whiskey. 

chris risdon

Partner, VP West Region

Christopher Risdon has spent the last  20 Years in the Wine and Spirits Business within the scope of, Distribution, Manufacturing, Consulting. He was born into this business as his father was a corporate buyer for over 35+ years buying for the Wine and Spirits category. It is what has led him down the line of working within the Alcohol Beverage Industry.

Chris started with The World Class training at the Gallo Wine Company Los Angeles in 2001. He went on to work in the chain distribution channels of Youngs Market Company in California (S. Cal  & N. Cal Offices), Kendall Jackson (N. Cal Chains), Wine Warehouse (S. Cal Regional Manager). In 2008 he stepped outside the distributor world and became a supplier selling brands to On-Premise in Los Angeles for Progressive Brands owned then by the former CEO of Sunkist Growers Russ Hanlin.

He has direct success in building the RumChata brand from a 6k brand in California to a 46k brand within the scope of 12 months. He has assisted in building out brands like Canton, Sweet Revenge (Maurice Cooper), Dalmore Scotch, Jura Scotch, Compass Box Whiskey, Tequila Revolucion, and a multitude of Agave based Spirits since 2009. He has worked closely with the owners and family of Frank Gonzales (owner of the Xamay Distillery, in Jamay, MX) in building out new business and distribution in California.

He serves at PKGD Group as a managing member in which manages the Western States, as a liaison to ASE, our compliance partner. He also is the Brand Manager for Hacienda de Chihuahua, Diaz Bros Agave, and Cedar Ridge Distillery.

denise sanchez

Sales Marketing Project Manager

Denise serves as the Sales Marketing Manager for PKGD Group, where she ensures projects are running smoothly, and helps in the creative process from website building to social media. With over 15 years of experience in the spirits, and the hospitality industry. Working in all areas of hospitality from bartending/serving, brand ambassador, event management, and social media/design. Denise holds a bachelor’s degree in art and design from Columbia College of Chicago. Driven by the unrelenting pursuit of customer-driven focus, ideals and user experience. In her free time, Denise has a passion for all things creative, travel, and exploring places to eat and drink a Mezcal cocktail.

jim robb

Los Angeles Market Manager

A driven beverage specialist based in Los Angeles, California, manages sales teams and the market. Expertise in virtually every aspect of the beverage sales lifecycle. With over 20 years of outstanding experience as a beverage management professional Jim Robb has worked as a liaison between suppliers, distributors, and key retailers on a local, state, and regional management level. He worked with multinational brands like Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Nestle Waters, and Pisco Portón, among others. He possessed the distributorship relationships to strategically and sustainably amplify the footprint of brands nationwide.

Jim has introduced many products from major and minor brands to Republic National Distributing Company, Wine Warehouse, and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. With his long-standing relationships with upper management at the major distributors throughout the US and expertise in sales, business development, distributor development, and strategic sales planning, Jim hopes to elevate PKGD Group to the next level in California.

Gabby Rooney

Central Texas Market Manager
Gabby has worked in the spirits and hospitality industry for the last decade, ranging from bartender to state manager of Texas. Originally from Minnesota, she moved to Austin six years ago after college. Working briefly in the tech industry, she realized that the hospitality industry was where she preferred to be. Gabby has a love for all spirits with a particular interest in the whiskey and agave worlds.

Juan Arboleda

National On-Premise Spirit Specialist

Juan proudly served in the United States Navy from 2001 to 2005. After receiving an honorable discharge in 2005, Juan followed his passion and began working in the hospitality industry. He got his start at Employees Only and Macao Trading Company as a doorman. In 2011, Dushan Zarik of Employees Only offered Juan an apprenticeship at Café Tallulah, a project he was consulting for, located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Juan quickly advanced and became the principal bartender within the year. Juan was eager to learn and further develop his skills as a bartender so he simultaneously became the bar back at Los Americanos in Tribeca and within 3 months became the bar manager. In 2013, Juan took the next step in his career and became the Mixologist and Beverage Director for Blackwood Hospitality – a leading hospitality consulting firm in New York City. At Blackwood, Juan is responsible for hiring and training bar staff, designing and developing the cocktail program and menus, ordering, inventory, and meeting with industry brand ambassadors on projects. Since joining the Blackwood Hospitality team, Juan has assisted in the opening of 20 different restaurants and bars including The Harold, East-side Cantina, WhiskeySocial, Gentilly, Da Capo, Oxbow Tavern, Maxwell’s Chophouse, and Shoo Shoo. He was also the Beverage Director for The Hotel Indigo Newark restaurant’s Alva, Skylab, and Darrow’s Farm Fresh Takeout. Each project he meticulously crafts unique cocktails, beer, and wine menus, bar design, and drives it all home by training the staff on culture and presence behind the stick. Outside from consulting, Juan has appeared in numerous T.V. shows, online blogs, and magazines including The Daily News, Chilled Magazine, Imbibe, liquor.com, Manhattan Digest, Thirstymag.com, Uproxx.com Fuse tv, and FIOS1 to name a few.

Alexis ramirez

Northeast Regional Manager

Entering the hospitality world in 2005, Alexis Ramirez has experienced corporate restaurant structure as well as a high volume environment, where his love of cocktails started. Seeking more of a challenge, he ventured into NYC and joined Blackwood Hospitality, where he developed skills in bar design, training, and cocktail culture. His training grew further from principal bartenders at Macao Trading Co. and Employees Only. He moved up the ladder quickly to become a valued part of the bar roster. He learned how to build a team and elevate them to be the best versions of themselves; to be rockstars. He travels the world, studying the distilling process of different spirits, his favorite, being Agave. He now represents some of the best artisanal tequilas. His passion and expertise has been sought out by numerous bars, where he consulted and brought his know-how, charisma, and unique sense of style to the table. In the future, Alexis hopes to continue being innovative behind the bar or various establishments, as well as his own.

Nate blury

Midwest Regional Manager

Nate Blury is the Co-Founder of the Original Tin Cup Co. He also works in the spirits industry as a consultant, and started a VLOG called, “Cocktail and Conversation.” Nate is also a part of the U.S. Bartenders Guild and DrinkGR, [a Grand Rapids-based organization of Cocktail Enthusiasts]. When he isn’t bellied up to a bar you can most likely find him playing with his Dog, Banksy, or traveling with the love of his life.

Jorge Cherriz

Southeast Regional Manager
Brooklyn born, raised in Barcelona, Spain, from the age of twelve. Jorge graduated from the University of Memphis, TN, with a bachelor’s degree in Business in 2007 and a master’s degree in marketing in 2010. He later went on to work for Bacardi in Tennessee, and then he found himself working in cosmetics, where he worked for L’Oréal Paris for some time. In 2014 he started his career in the service industry in a new concept restaurant where he found his passion for spirits.
 
In 2015 he moved to Sarasota, Florida, to work for the Ritz Carlton Hotel as a hospitality manager. He spent three years in Florida, winning awards and traveling around the state. In 2018 he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, with the opportunity to be part owner of Haymarket whiskey bar, and it reached the top 10 whiskey bars in the country at the time. He developed e-commerce, organized a barrel program, staff training, plus generated one of the most successful campaigns for social media marketing, pushing Haymarket and Louisville, KY out to the world. He was nominated for the ROSE award (Recognition Of Service Excellence), where he was the second place among forty-nine excellent people. In 2018 he moved to Michigan to pursue another restaurant development that became one of the most important in the state for craft cocktail bars. He met Shawn Miller from PKGD, started consulting as a Brand Ambassador and is now back in Florida acting as the State Manager.