NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, Eric Best, general manager/partner of Bob Hall LLC in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, assumed the position of 2014-2015 chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) at the association’s 77th Annual Convention at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. As chairman, Best will help guide the association as it advocates for licensed, independent beer distributors and educates elected officials, regulators, media and the public about the value of beer distributors and America’s effective system of state-based alcohol regulation.
“The beer industry is a fountain of opportunity,” Best said. “How many people, just like me, have found their dream job in this business? Distributors, small brewers, big brewers, marketing people, craft bar owners, craft specialty store owners… the list of opportunities are pouring out of this industry.”
“We are fortunate to work in an industry where vision, innovation and hard work are still rewarded,” Best continued. “We need to take a moment to appreciate the people, past and present, who have been pioneers of our industry… the entrepreneurs and workhorses in every tier that have and continue to contribute to our industry’s remarkable prosperity. We also need to take a moment to appreciate this country, the laws, the regulations and the three-tier system – where all tiers can thrive.”
“Opportunity abounds in our industry, but despite the mutual success of all the tiers, the system is under siege,” Best said. “Lawmakers, regulators and other influencers are being besieged with criticism of the three-tier system and the regulatory infrastructure which has so successfully served the public interest for decades. Decision makers – especially the younger generation – need to be educated on the historical significance of our laws. They need to know why the laws are as relevant today as they were when originally conceived and enacted.”
Best encouraged all distributors to be engaged in educating themselves, their customers, legislators, regulators and other influencers on the importance of the independent, three-tier distribution system and state-based regulation to sound public policy, economic prosperity and the creation of opportunities.
President of G&M Distributors, Inc. Adam Vitale moderated a panel of beer industry experts and observers – ranging from a Wall Street analyst to an advocate of Main Street beer distribution businesses – who discussed“Main Street Fueling Wall Street.” Participants included Mike Mazzoni, senior partner of Seema International Ltd.; Benj Steinman, president of Beer Marketer’s Insights; Trevor Stirling, European beverages analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein Limited; and John Williams, executive director of the Beer Industry League of Louisiana.
The panel addressed the globalized, yet intensely local, beer industry from all angles, examining the current risks and opportunities that exist in today’s marketplace – from Wall Street attempts at guessing the next big merger to understanding the industry landscape on Main Street and across state capitols.
The panel discussed the current state of the three-tier beer distribution system in the United States, with Trevor Stirling highlighting his analysis that the number one risk factor facing the global beer industry is the loss of the three-tier system in the United States. He noted that the three-tier system benefits brewers of all sizes and minimizes retailer dominance.
John Williams also emphasized the regulatory value of the three-tier system and beer distributors, describing the underlying public policy behind the system, which promotes public health and safety. The unintended benefits that have resulted from this public policy include “opportunities for larger breweries and small breweries alike,” he said.
The general session concluded with a presentation by one of America’s most well-known political couples,James Carville and Mary Matalin. The duo discussed today’s most pressing political issues and provided a behind-the-scenes look at Washington politics and a preview of what to expect from this year’s midterm elections.