Last week, one of the biggest and best trade shows in the beer business was held in the glitzy convention capital of Las Vegas. The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) held its 76th Annual Convention and Trade Show from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 at Caesars Palace, offering 23 educational seminars, almost 300 exhibitors and a busy craft beer section.
“We are all aware of the fact that the beer distribution industry is changing right before our eyes,” NBWA President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Purser told distributor attendees. “We’ve said it before: You are transforming from brand dependent beer wholesalers into independent, brand building distribution companies. All of you are taking on new products, building new alliances and reevaluating what works and doesn’t work.
“Your story is unique because of that important role that your business plays, not on Wall Street, but on Main Street. You are the trucks that run up and down local roads. You are the ones who regularly visit the corner pub or the popular restaurant. You are the ones who provide quality jobs and solid wages to men and women across your community. America’s beer distributors are America’s Main Street.”
For the second consecutive year, one of the big highlights for the 4,000 attendees was the opportunity to hear from the leaders of five U.S. breweries and importers who appeared together on one stage for a discussion moderated by Donna Spagnola, president and chief financial officer of Central Beverage Co. in Broadview, Ill., and former chair of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois. The discussion included Sam Calagione, president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Luiz Edmond, president North America for Anheuser-Busch; Bill Hackett, president of Crown Imports LLC; Tom Long, chief executive officer of MillerCoors LLC; and Dolf van den Brink, president and chief executive officer of Heineken USA.
The tradeshow itself featuring products and services from nearly 300 exhibitors, including more than 500 labels of imported and domestic beer, non-alcoholic beverages, warehousing technology, financial services software and promotional products.
NBWA honored several talented industry leaders at the convention. The NBWA Life Service Award is presented to beer distributors who have dedicated a lifetime of service to the industry, community and fellow distributors. The first NBWA Life Service Award was presented to Joseph “Joe” DeMarco, chairman of the Board of Directors for High Grade Beverage based in South Brunswick, N.J. DeMarco has run High Grade Beverage in New Jersey since 1961. A second NBWA Life Service Award was presented to Bill Olson, president of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI). Olson began his career with ABDI in January 1985, working as an advocate for beer distributor interests and state-based alcohol regulation. He has served as president of the Wholesale Beer Association Executives and has been an active representative on the NBWA Industry Affairs Committee. For more award news, check out this web page here.
Twenty plus educational sessions were also a part of the big show; topics ranged from “Understanding Social Media: The Evolving Beer Business” to “Emerging Brewers and the Business of Craft Beer” to “The Current Beer Distributor Lending Environment.” In fact, there was so much going on at the convention and trade show, that you might just want to watch the videos above and below to catch up on the latest distributor news, trends, products and players at the NBWA’s 76th Annual Convention and Trade Show.