2018 ABL Annual Meeting a Rousing Success
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nearly 200 Beverage Retailers from Across the Country Join ABL in New Orleans for Association’s 16th Annual Meeting
March 19, 2018 – Bethesda, MD – Beverage retailers and their hospitality industry partners from across the country joined together in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 11-13 for American Beverage Licensees’ (ABL) 16th Annual Meeting. Speakers addressed a wide range of topics and themes impacting beverage retailers, including: impaired driving; music licensing; technology; the alcohol retail landscape; industry and legal updates; policy, regulation and licensing; and hot topics in retail.
“The past year has a seen a number of major shifts in areas directly impacting beverage retailers – from mergers and acquisitions in the producer and distributor tiers and the ‘new’ retail landscape, to impaired driving and regulatory and policy changes at the state and federal level,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “The breadth and scope of this year’s programming is a reflection of these changing times and our efforts to position our members for success in navigating the future of the beverage alcohol industry.”
Tom Cole, President & CEO of Republic National Distribution Company (RNDC), delivered the keynote address and shared his unique perspective on industry issues, including the recently announced merger of RNDC with Breakthru Beverage Group. The next speaker was Brandy Nannini, Vice President - Government Relations & Traffic Safety for the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, who discussed a range of policy updates related to traffic safety and impaired driving.
Attendees also heard from Elizabeth Frazee, Co-Chair of the MIC Coalition, who provided an update on the current state of music licensing – including a number of bills currently before Congress. Closing out the morning’s general sessions, Cris Fowler, Vice President – SMB Sales for ECR Software Corp. and Paul Fisher, Vice President – Sales for Intellicheck, provided attendees with overviews on how retailers can best utilize technology in their businesses – from payment processing to age verification systems.
Following the Annual Luncheon, sponsored by MillerCoors, the afternoon’s sessions focused on four themes: updates from the producer tier; liquor privatization and marijuana regulation; the changing alcohol retail landscape; and the last decade in beer.
The afternoon sessions began with a presentation from Jim McGreevy, President & CEO of the Beer Institute and Kraig R. Naasz, President & CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council, who shared their thoughts on recent policy developments impacting producers, what their members are focused on and where retailers should be engaged in the coming year. They were followed by Rick Garza, Director of the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board, who discussed the regulatory perspective of privatizing the state’s liquor retailers and how regulators developed a regulatory infrastructure for recreational cannabis.
One of the most-talked about sessions featured Danelle Kosmal, Vice President - Beverage Alcohol Practice at Nielsen, and Matthew Crompton, Associate Client Director at Nielsen-CGA, who discussed the “new normal of the alcohol retail landscape” and reviewed the results and trends from a recent survey of more than 15,000 beverage retailers. For the day’s final session, Chris Furnari, Editor of Brewbound, discussed the last decade of beer and what retailers can expect to see in the coming years.
Opening the final day of the ABL Annual Meeting was Jim Webster, Managing Partner of Webster Powell P.C., who discussed recent and ongoing legal cases that have a direct impact on beverage retailers, and what alcohol law challenges may be next on the docket. Jim was then followed by Jake Hegeman, Vice President - Legal & Regulatory Affairs for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and Paul Pisano, Senior Vice President & General Counsel for the National Beer Wholesalers Association, who provided attendees with updates on recent developments and trends related to policy, regulation and licensing, and how business owners can work with regulators and legislators to ensure a robust marketplace and level playing field for all.
Closing out ABL’s annual meeting was the Retail Hot Topics Panel, which provided attendees with insights into hot topics and trends for both on- and off-premise beverage retailers. The session was moderated by ABL President Steve Morris and featured a panel of four retailers who fielded a range of questions from the moderator and audience: Jodi Blakley, Owner of the Mecca Bar in Fairbanks, AK; Terry Harvath, Owner of the Wishing Well Bar & Grill in Appleton, WI; David Jabour, President of Twin Liquors in Austin, TX; and Mac Thurston, President & General Manager of Mac’s Beer & Wine in Atlanta, GA.
In addition to the informational and educational sessions, the 2018 ABL Annual Meeting also provided ABL with the opportunity to honor 16 retail beverage businesses from across the country who make a difference in the beverage alcohol industry. These businesses and their owners were each recognized as a 2018 Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year and were presented their awards at the 2018 ABL Honors Gala. Also honored at the evening’s gala was Mark Brown, President & CEO of Sazerac, who was presented with the 2018 ABL Top Shelf Award, the highest honor presented by America’s beer, wine and spirits retailers, and which recognizes those who have demonstrated professional excellence in the beverage alcohol industry and have had a positive influence in their community.
The ABL Board of Directors also elected four beverage licensees to the ABL Executive Committee during the Annual Meeting. These individuals, each serving two-year terms, will lead the association towards meeting its strategic goals and initiatives. The new officers include:
Treasurer: Mat Dinsmore | Wilbur’s Total Beverage | Ft. Collins, CO
Vice President Off-Premise: Bob Kreston | Kreston Wine & Spirits | Wilmington, DE
Vice President On-Premise: Terry Harvath | The Wishing Well & Bar & Grill | Appleton, WI
At-Large: Jeff Vogt | JV's Downtown Bar & Grill | Waterloo, IL
ABL thanks the following 2018 ABL Annual Meeting Event & Honors Gala Sponsors: B4; Bacardi USA ; Basil Hayden's Dark Rye ; Bayou Rum ; Bluecoat American Dry Gin ; Brown-Forman; Bushmills Red Bush Irish Whiskey; Constellation Brands; Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka ; Don Q Grand Anejo ; Few Spirits ; Glenfiddich; Hendrick's Gin; Koskenkorva Vodka ; National Association of Beverage Importers; MillerCoors; Southern Comfort; Presidents' Forum of the Distilled Spirits Industry; Texas Package Stores Association; Tito's Handmade Vodka; Wild Turkey Bourbon; and Window Jane Bourbon.
About American Beverage Licensees: ABL is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate as many as 1.94 million well-paying jobs. ABL’s thousands of on-premise and off-premise licensee members are independent and often family-owned establishments. The beverage retailing industry pays over $25.3 billion in federal taxes and $18.36 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit www.ablusa.org.
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