NBWAas 73rd Annual Convention Celebrates American Beer Distribution Industry

CHICAGO, IL – Today the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) continued its 73rd Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Larry Del Papa, president of Del Papa Distributing Co., Inc., in Galveston, Texas, assumed the position of 2010-2011 NBWA Chairman of the Board. As Chair, Del Papa will lead the Association as it works to advocate for licensed, independent beer distributors and educate elected officials, regulators, media and the public about the important role of beer distributors and effective state-based alcohol regulation.

Noting that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Del Papa Distributing, Del Papa said, “In the beer industry, longstanding multi-generation distributors are the norm rather than the exception. We distributors have survived and thrived for generations because our businesses are much more than our livelihood, they are our way of life. Many of us grew up working beside our employees and our customers…. We are family businesses that are weaved in the fabric of our communities. Our value is seen and understood by the majority of our community leaders and by our elected officials at the state and federal level. Beer distributors are the face of the American beer industry. We are multi-generational family businesses who have built a strong and positive presence in our communities and across the United States. Our time-tested value and that of the American system of alcohol distribution is worth celebrating. It is also worth fighting to preserve.”


“For those of us who believe that the 21st Amendment, the three-tier system and a regulated alcohol industry provide social value, we are at a very unique, critical and even urgent time,” Del Papa continued. He shared two goals for the upcoming year. The first is for NBWA to expand its advocacy efforts on behalf of beer distributors and today’s successful system of effective alcohol regulation by addressing deregulatory litigation, increasing the public’s understanding of the reason for the American system of alcohol distribution and advancing federal legislation that will clarify the intent of Congress with regard to the primary authority of states to regulate alcohol. The second goal is to strengthen the relationship between brewers and distributors.


Rich Lozyniak, Chief Executive Officer of North American Breweries, Inc. (NAB), talked about how, at a time when the beer industry has seen stagnant growth, NAB has been able to grow across brands. Since its creation in 2009, NAB has grown from a very small company to a larger brewer with a portfolio of enviable brands. He also took the chance to extend a big thank you to the beer distributors in the room. “This is the greatest business in the entire world. It really is. It’s such a pleasure to work with you people. It really truly is a band of brothers,” he said. “We know every single day at 4 a.m. you load up your trucks and service your accounts with our beer. And it’s hard work.”

Nick Lake of The Nielson Company moderated the panel “What Does the Consumer Want?” The panel included Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery; Alex Joerger, Director of Wine, Beer and Spirits for Best Cellars, Inc./A&P; Greg Engert, Beer Director for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, including Birch&Barley/ChurchKey in Washington, D.C.; and Rick Steckler, President and Chief Operating Officer for Click Wholesale Distributing in Kent, Washington. These panelists from all tiers of the industry discussed how the current economic downturn and growth of the power retailer has shifted the way consumers shop for beer. They also discussed current on- and off-premise trends in consumer choices and how the consumer’s interest in choice and variety has continued to provide growth for craft beer.

The General Session concluded with a lively political point-counterpoint session with Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who gave an in-depth look at the upcoming midterm elections in November and the potential for change in the political landscape. Gillespie shared his predictions for Republican gains in Congress – including a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives – as well as in governorships and state legislatures across the country. McAuliffe spoke of the Democrats’ fundraising advantage and predicted Democrats would retain control of the House of Representatives.


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