Beverage Alcohol Industry Participates in 8th ABL Convention

Bethesda, MD – June 22, 2010 – America’s beer, wine and spirits retailers, along with representatives from every tier and segment of the beverage alcohol industry descended on Louisville, Kentucky on June 13 – 15 to participate in the 8th Annual American Beverage Licensees Convention.  The successful and exciting annual event featured speakers and presentations from beverage alcohol executives, industry trade association leaders, bourbon master distillers and social responsibility experts.
This year’s convention marked the first time ABL has held its signature event in Louisville, which is located in the heart of bourbon country and has a strong beverage alcohol industry presence.  One of the convention’s two General Sessions featured a panel discussion with eight bourbon master distillers, and was followed by a trip to bourbon country for distillery tours, tastings, and a reception.
“We wanted to show ABL’s support for a historic and American segment of our great industry by bringing the retail tier to bourbon country,” said Harry Wiles, ABL’s executive director.  “The new and exciting backdrop for this convention energized those retailers who made their way to Louisville to take advantage of its attractions and hospitality.”
The convention also focused on industry trends, alcohol-related legislative issues, responsibility programs and ways in which to market and succeed in an increasingly digital world. General Session speakers included Mark Brown, President of Sazerac; Bill Newlands, President of Beam Global Spirits & Wine; Dr. Peter Cressy, President & CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States; Craig Purser, President & CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association; Jim Rowland, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America; Brian Fischer, Vice President of Community Relations for The Charmer-Sunbelt Group; Rob Frederick, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for Brown-Forman, and a handful of other participants.
“The convention provided a chance for ABL members to network and meet with alcohol industry members with whom they might not otherwise be in contact,” said Wiles.  “With so many issues facing our industry, bringing together producers, wholesalers and retailers from the beer, wine and spirits segments is an invaluable opportunity to build industry unity and share ideas on how best to protect and promote retail businesses.”
Eddie Block, Partner of Republic National Distributing Company, was honored at the convention’s Final Night Banquet with ABL’s Top Shelf Award.  The Top Shelf Award is the highest honor given by ABL and recognizes those who have demonstrated excellence over their careers in the beverage alcohol industry and have a successful history of positive influence in their communities.  Mr. Block was joined by his family and more than 200 friends, business colleagues and convention attendees to celebrate his award.
Also honored at the convention were the Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year.  Nominated by ABL’s state and regional affiliates, the Retailer of the Year awards recognize dedicated ABL retailers who are the last to handle beverage alcohol products before they reach consumers, and are the face of the industry to millions of Americans who responsibly enjoy beer, wine and spirits. 
The ABL Board of Directors met during the three-day event to conduct association business and elect new officers.  Joining ongoing President David Jabour of Twin Liquors in Austin, TX and Vice President Skip Boise of The Tavern in Cortland, NY as officers are: Vice President Ray Cox of Elite Beverages in Indianapolis, IN; Vice President Austin Keith of Pinkie’s in Odessa, TX; Vice President Harry Klock of Stockman’s Bar in Harlowton, MT; and Treasurer Jonathan Grimes of the Pennsylvania Tavern Association. 
ABL’s 9th Annual Convention will take place June 11-13, 2011, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is open to all ABL and beverage alcohol industry members.