Former Topgolf COO Craig Kessler Named New CEO of Dallas’ Buff City Soap

Kessler helped Topgolf triple in size to nearly $1 billion in revenue, growing its venues from 25 to 70. Now he's bringing his track record of experiential innovation and franchise-building to the world of plant-based personal care.

Dallas’ Buff City Soap, a plant-based home and personal care brand franchise, has named Craig Kessler as its new CEO effective August 2nd. Kessler won’t have to move far—he joins Buff City from his post as COO of Dallas-based Topgolf, which tripled in size to nearly $1 billion in revenue under his tenure.

During Kessler’s time at Topgolf—the global sports and entertainment concept featuring high-tech driving ranges—he helped beef up the company’s operations, culture, and innovation pipeline. The company’s venues grew from 25 to 70, and Topgolf won Deloitte’s prestigious “Best Managed Company” award.

Before joining Topgolf, Kessler was an operating partner at Providence Equity Partners, helping to improve operations at its portfolio companies worldwide. Earlier in his career he was an operating partner for KKR, another global private equity firm.

Now the new CEO will bring his track record of experiential innovation and franchise-building to the world of plant-based personal care.

Joining a “one-of-a-kind business”

“I’m thrilled to join the Buff City Soap family,” Kessler said in a statement. “This one-of-a-kind business is building a loyal fanbase across the country and the opportunities for growth are remarkable.”

“I’m also very encouraged by the unwavering commitment from Buff City Soap’s deeply experienced franchisee base,” he added. “I’m fired up to work with the team and our franchisees to continue the company’s impressive growth.”

Wayne Moore, managing partner at Crux Capital and co-chairman of Buff City Soap, said in the statement that Kessler’s “proven leadership, visionary thinking and strong operational experience will be invaluable to the company as we continue to redefine a category of retail.”

“We’re pleased to have an incredible leader like Craig join Buff City Soap,” Moore said.

Buff City has had rapid growth of its own

Like Topgolf, Buff City Soap has been growing fast. Its franchisees have helped quadruple the brand’s footprint since 2020 to more than 115 stores in 21 states.

Buff CIty’s stores offer plant-based soaps, laundry, bath, and beauty products, many of them handmade daily in each store’s “Soap Makery.” The company was recognized in Entrepreneur’s Top 100 “Best of the New” franchise rankings. 

“Significant expansion” planned

Buff City Soap plans “significant expansion” for 2021 and beyond with a recent investment from growth equity firm General Atlantic.

“We believe that Craig will be instrumental in helping accelerate the company’s unit expansion across the U.S.,” said Mike Sutton, managing partner at Guideboat Capital Partners and co-chairman of Buff City Soap, in the statement. “We’re seeing incredible demand for our handmade and plant-based products and Craig’s experience building a global brand was essential as we embark on the next phase of growth.”

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