LOS ANGELES — Drew Kennedy, the president of Premiere Sales Group who was widely regarded as one of the top salesmen in adult entertainment, passed away suddenly this morning. He was 32.
“He was just a good guy, a gentle giant. It’s really sad,” said Dusty Urban, a 28-year adult industry veteran who was a close friend of Kennedy’s for the past 14 years and had just hung out with him Wednesday night. “He just didn’t wake up this morning. He was a loving, caring guy.”
A native of Palmdale, Calif., who was in his 15th year in the business, Kennedy took the reins of the Santa Clarita-based Premiere in 2013 as one of the youngest CEOs in adult, managing a multimillion-dollar annual sales volume. He got his start at the age of 18 working at the Premiere Sales Group warehouse for his brother-in-law Keith Repult and sister Samantha, then-owners of the well-known distribution company.
Kennedy soon worked his way up to a career in sales, where on the strength of his word and business acumen he quickly built a robust account base. In 2013, he purchased Premiere Sales Group from the Repults.
“I’ve known him forever, the kid was a monster sales guy,” Steve Volponi, the VP of production and sales for Devil’s Film, told XBIZ Friday night. “He just had a gift. He was a good-looking kid. The buyers loved him and this kid just pounded the fucking phones. He knew how to get it sold. He knew how to close the deal. He was definitely a closer.”
Volponi said he had just spoken with Kennedy by phone on Thursday, when they talked about a number of topics, including the idea of pitching a feature article about Kennedy’s growing career.
“He told me, ‘I’m glad we patched everything up business-wise, I’ve always respected you and loved you and always thought you were a great sales guy,’” Volponi recalled. “I told him, ‘we should do an article. You’re a smart kid, the best sales guy in the business. You sell massive amounts of shit. You own Premiere. Maybe we do an article about you and the new Premiere.’”
Volponi was on the golf course today with Airerose Entertainment VP Adam Hasner when they received the sad news and couldn’t believe what they’d heard.
“He had a lot of friends,” Volponi continued. “He was an amazing buyer and an amazing salesman. He knew what to buy and he knew how to sell it and he sold it in large quantities. It’s sad… I got really choked up about it. I was not expecting that after the day I was having with Adam. Me and Adam were looking at each other in disbelief. I just talked to him yesterday.”
Kevin Beechum, the 30-year industry veteran who owns K-Beech Video, also had just spoken with Kennedy a day ago. Beechum told XBIZ Kennedy had said he would be joining him at Beechum’s son’s auto race this weekend in Willow Springs, Calif.
“I’ve known Drew since back in the days when Dusty used to sell him and then he’d come to the [AEE] show and we’d have [former MMA fighter] Chuck Liddell with us and he’d get a picture with Chuck,” Beechum said Friday night. “He was just a good all-around kid.
“I was talking to him Thursday because we were doing this deal and then I told him about the race thing. I think he just got a new Camaro. Nothing was wrong.”
Kennedy, who had recently moved back to Ventura, Calif., after residing for several years in Valencia, in June of 2014 briefly acquired Elegant Angel from founder Patrick Collins and was named the new president. But due to legal circumstances that were out of his control, the deal fell through less than a week after it was announced.
Last year under Kennedy's leadership, Premiere generated more revenue than it had in the previous six years. Kennedy also was part owner of a frozen yogurt shop in Ventura County.
Kennedy’s father Mike told XBIZ Friday night, “He was a good kid, a very loving person and he fought with his demons. I don’t know what else to say… He was one of the best-hearted people I’ve ever known. He was my friend and I don’t know how I’m even going to deal with this. ... All I know is my son is gone.”
Pictured: Drew Kennedy, left, and Keith Repult.