NBWA Convention Highlights Role of America's Beer Distributors and Three-Tier System

LAS VEGAS, NV – The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) kicked off the first full day of its 74th Annual Convention and Trade Show today at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

NBWA Chairman of the Board Larry Del Papa reflected on the goals he laid out for 2011 including increasing the Association’s advocacy efforts and strengthening relationships with brewer partners. Del Papa cited progress on both of those fronts stating, “If we as a unified industry will stand tall together to promote and, when necessary, defend the regulated three-tier system, then we will prevail.”

NBWA President Craig Purser talked about changes and transformation in the beer industry. He described the successes achieved by the pursuit of a distributor focused agenda including the education of policymakers at all levels about the three-tier system, the formation of new relationships and coalitions, and improved dialogue and new commitments to the system from industry partners.

Purser also discussed the importance of brand building to the future of the beer industry stating, “It’s the brands that make this industry. Distributors are in the brand building business. So are brewers, and so are retailers. Maintaining a three-tier system that includes independent distributors is good for everyone. It is good for brewers of all sizes looking for access to market.”

“Laws that support the separation of the tiers allow both new brewers and established brands to have a choice when it comes to distribution,” Purser continued. “Regulations that promote an independent three-tier system provide retailers, large and small, with a brand portfolio that works to meet the need of customers and promotes robust inter-brand competition. And the same laws that delicately balance competition with effective alcohol control facilitate the public’s interest in promoting health and safety. Put simply, all of these laws together and the system itself, works to preserve the equity in these great brands.”

Bump Williams of Bump Williams Consulting moderated a panel of craft brewers – including Nikos Ridge of Ninkasi Brewing Co., Bob Sullivan of Boulevard Brewing Co., Rod Tod of Allagash Brewing Co. and Dick Yuengling of D.G. Yuengling & Son Co. – entitled “Growing through Distribution: Craft Brewers on the Move.” The panel focused on brand building and partnerships, with discussion of what challenges breweries face as they move from state-wide to regional to national distribution, how brewers can keep up with present demand yet look forward to adding new territory and what independent beer distributors can be doing to help them grow.

The General Session program concluded with remarks by Eric Greitens, a Navy SEAL, Rhodes Scholar and the award-winning author of "The Heart and the Fist." Using personal anecdotes from his travels, Greitens drew from his experience as a humanitarian and Navy SEAL lieutenant commander to address leadership, team building, overcoming adversity and the power of service.

Following the General Session program, the Trade Show opened with new products and services from 275 different exhibitors on display. Some of the products on display included imported and domestic beer, non-alcoholic beverages, warehousing technology, fuel management systems, financial services software and promotional products.

NBWA’s 74th Annual Convention and Trade Show continues Tuesday, October 18 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.


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