Media

Save the Date: American Beverage Licensees Will Return to New Orleans for Annual Meeting March 29-30, 2020

BETHESDA, MD – SEPTEMBER 4, 2019 – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) announced today that it will return to New Orleans, Louisiana for the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting, taking place March 29-30, 2020. The meeting will be held at the Hilton New Orleans St. Charles Avenue and will include a range of speakers and networking opportunities for attendees and feature the latest news and trends in the beverage alcohol industry from leading industry experts.

As with previous ABL conferences, the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting will once again bring together beer, wine and spirits retailers from across the country – as well as representatives from the three tiers of the beverage alcohol industry. The meeting program will examine the key issues of the day facing independent beverage retailers including what can be expected in the wake of the Tennessee Wine Supreme Court case; regulatory and legislative developments in states; the evolving cannabis market and a host of other important topics that affect beverage retailers’ business and are shaping the beverage alcohol marketplace.

“New Orleans is synonymous with the beer, wine, spirits, and hospitality that have come to define a ‘golden age’ of beverage alcohol in the United States,” said ABL President J.J. Moran. “We look forward to welcoming bar, tavern and package store owners, as well as industry leaders, to the Big Easy as we examine the challenges, opportunities and emerging trends facing America’s independent beverage retailers.”

Additional information – including registration and room rates, speakers, schedules, and hospitality events – will be announced in the coming weeks and months. For the latest updates and information on the 2020 ABL Annual Meeting, be sure to visit the www.ablusa.org. The latest updates can also be found by following the #ABLMeeting20 hashtag on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than a 2.03 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 $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit www.ablusa.org.

U.S. Retaliatory Tariffs Could Cost up to 78,600 Jobs in U.S. Beverage Alcohol & Hospitality Sectors

Alcohol Trade Groups Urge USTR Not to Impose Retaliatory Tariffs on EU Spirits & Wines

 

AUGUST 5, 2019 – BETHESDA, MD – Up to 78,600 jobs in the U.S. beverage alcohol and hospitality sectors could be lost if distilled spirits, wine and non-alcoholic beer are included on the final U.S. list of European Union (EU) products targeted for retaliatory tariffs, according to an analysis by U.S. alcohol trade groups representing several beverage alcohol suppliers, wholesalers, importers and retailers included in a submission to the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

The proposed retaliatory tariff list is part of a long-standing dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding civil aircraft subsidies and is unrelated to the beverage alcohol industry.

In the submission, the groups reaffirmed their strong objection to tariffs and the inclusion of EU spirits and wines on the preliminary retaliation list emphasizing that it “will lead to negative unintended consequences for U.S. consumers, will cause a further decline in U.S. beverage alcohol exports and will result in a significant loss of U.S. jobs.”

They explained that imposing retaliatory tariffs on EU wine and spirits products harms both the U.S. and EU alcohol sectors since many companies have created complementary product portfolios comprised of both domestic and imported spirits, wine and beer brands to meet consumer demand.

According to the analysis, approximately 11,200 to 78,600 U.S. jobs could be eliminated if the U.S. moves forward in slapping tariffs on spirits and wine products imported from the EU. This estimate is a significant increase from the loss of jobs estimated in the group’s May 28th submission due to USTR’s decision to add Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey to its April 8 preliminary list of EU products, which included wine, liqueurs and cordials, and Cognac.

“If beverage alcohol products remain on the final U.S. list, the EU would certainly respond by keeping U.S. beverage alcohol products on its list, thus inflicting more damage on U.S. companies that export to this critically important market and hampering the export progress that has benefited our sectors and created good-paying jobs across the U.S,” the groups stated. The EU has threatened to impose tariffs on imports of U.S. wine, vodka, and rum.

The groups underscored that the impacts of retaliatory tariffs are accelerating and are being felt across the entire U.S. supply chain, from farmers to suppliers to retailers.

Since the EU’s imposition of a 25 percent tariff on American Whiskey last summer, American Whiskey exports have declined 19 percent. Additionally, China is imposing a 54 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. wine imports, which is contributing to a 57 percent decline in trade with China since the beginning of 2019.

Several small U.S. distillers and vintners have had their export orders canceled due to the tariffs and as a result, have put a hold on hiring and have cut back on grain purchases.

The joint comment was submitted by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, American Craft Spirits Association, American Distilled Spirits Association, Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Wine Institute, WineAmerica, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Wine and Spirits Shippers Association, American Beverage Licensees and the National Association of Beverage Importers.

The full text of the public comment can be downloaded here.

ABL Weekly – Issue 389 | July 5, 2019

ABL Weekly – Issue 388 | June 28, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court Invalidates State Durational Residency Requirements for Retail Liquor Licenses

JUNE 26, 2019 – BETHESDA, MD – The Supreme Court of the United States today affirmed by a 7-2 vote the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas. The Court found that Tennessee’s durational-residency requirements for retail and wholesale alcohol licenses are not protected under the Twenty-first Amendment.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, opens the door for future challenges to state alcohol laws, including possibly even basic residency requirements that differentiate between in-state and out-of-state interests. The Court’s decision also creates uncertainty for retail beverage licensees who have long participated in the state regulatory systems that make up America’s alcohol marketplace.

“It is disappointing that the Court did not recognize the full weight of the Twenty-first amendment and the societal intent of the Tennessee residency laws when balanced against the Dormant Commerce Clause,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.

“While today’s decision is not what those who recognize the importance of a well-regulated and orderly alcohol marketplace were seeking, beverage licensees must now recommit themselves to working with state legislators and regulators to adapt state-based alcohol regulatory systems that promote public safety in a manner that fits with the Court’s interpretation of the relationship between the Twenty-first Amendment and Dormant Commerce Clause.”

Justice Alito’s majority opinion noted, “That provision [Section 2 of the Twenty-first Amendment] allows each State leeway to enact the measures that its citizens believe are appropriate to address the public health and safety effects of alcohol use and to serve other legitimate interests, but it does not license the States to adopt protectionist measures with no demonstrable connection to those interests.”

However, the majority opinion also acknowledged the limit of its ruling, observing that, “Because we agree with the dissent that, under [Section 2], States ‘remai[n] free to pursue’ their legitimate interests in regulating the health and safety risks posed by the alcohol trade, each variation must be judged based on its own features.”

In acknowledging the legitimate role that States play in regulating alcohol, the Court confirmed “State law empowers the relevant authorities to limit both the number of retail licenses and the amount of alcohol that may be sold to an individual”; “the State could also mandate more extensive training for managers and employees and could even demand that they demonstrate an adequate connection with and knowledge of the local community”; and “the State of course remains free to monitor the practices of retailers and to take action against those who violate the law.”

In a strong dissent, Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, raised poignant questions about the implications of the ruling and the majority’s attempt to “‘rationalize’ the law and impose our own free-trade rules for all goods and services on interstate commerce.”

“What are lower courts supposed to make of this? How much public health and safety benefit must there be to overcome this Court’s worries about protectionism ‘predominat[ing]’?” asked Gorsuch. “Does reducing competition in the liquor market, raising prices, and thus reducing demand still count as a public health benefit, as many States have long supposed? And if residency requirements are problematic, what about simple physical presence laws?”

“In light of today’s ruling, and as we look to what the future may hold for the retail alcohol community, accountability, transparency and compliance will be of the utmost importance,” said Bodnovich. “ABL and its members remain committed to working with state and local regulators to promote responsibility and are resolved to be part of a beverage alcohol ecosystem that promotes a vibrant beer, wine and spirits marketplace that safely serves customers and communities.”

ABL Announces Staff Promotion: Matt Evans Promoted to Director of Communications & Public Relations

JUNE 25, 2019 – BETHESDA, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) is proud to announce the recent promotion of Matt Evans to Director of Communications & Public Relations. In his new role, Evans will direct the association’s strategic communications and work with members, industry stakeholders, the media and members of Congress to highlight the important role played by America’s independent beer, wine and spirits retailers.

“In his three years with ABL, Matt has played an integral role in the development and implementation of a number of initiatives and campaigns highlighting not just the economic impact our members have, but also the role they play with respect to community involvement and philanthropy,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “This promotion is a testament to the contributions Matt has made – and will continue to make – to ABL in support of its mission.”

Evans joined ABL in May 2016 as Manager of Communications & Public Relations, where he has been instrumental in enhancing the association’s social media presence, website and content management systems. During his tenure at ABL, the association has experienced triple-digit growth in key areas such as engagements, impressions and media views. He was also responsible for overseeing and managing the association’s shift to digital-only publications, including a weekly e-newsletter and quarterly membership magazine.

Alcohol Trade Groups Call on USTR to Remove Spirits & Wine from Retaliatory Tariffs List of EU Products

Analysis Shows Tariffs Could Cost up to 45,800 U.S. Jobs

Trade groups representing beverage alcohol suppliers, wholesalers, importers and retailers, submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) urging the removal of spirits, wine and non-alcoholic beer from its draft list of European Union (EU) products being targeted for proposed retaliatory tariffs.

The preliminary list of targeted EU products, which was announced by the USTR April 8, includes brandy, liqueurs and cordials, wine and non-alcoholic beer, as well as many other EU products. The issuance of the proposed list is part of a long-standing dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding civil aircraft subsidies and is unrelated to the beverage alcohol industry.

In the submission, the groups stated they “strongly oppose the inclusion of beverage alcohol products in the proposed retaliation list” and warned that the tariffs will have numerous unintended negative consequences, including on U.S. jobs, U.S. consumers and on U.S. companies that export to the EU, some of which already face retaliatory tariffs to that market.

The proposed retaliatory tariffs on certain beverage alcohol products imported from the EU would impact nearly $6.8 billion in imports and could lead to a loss of approximately 6,600 to 45,800 U.S. jobs, according to an analysis by the Distilled Spirits Council.

The groups pointed out that many U.S. companies–from farmers, to suppliers to retailers–are already being negatively impacted by the imposition of retaliatory tariffs by key trading partners on certain U.S. distilled spirits and wines resulting from other trade disputes, and that additional tariffs will only inflict further harm.

They cited, for example, that several small U.S. distillers and wineries report that their export orders have been cancelled after spending years of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars building up demand for their products in overseas markets. As a result, some U.S. distillers and wineries are holding off on expansion plans and new hires.

The EU responded to the U.S. draft list with its own preliminary list of U.S. products that it would target for retaliatory tariffs in a related WTO dispute, which included wine, rum, vodka, and brandy.

The groups stated, “We are gravely concerned that this escalation would compound the negative impact of the tariffs on a sector that is already feeling the damaging impact resulting from unrelated trade disputes.”

The groups concluded, “U.S. beverage alcohol producers have benefitted from the U.S. efforts to open up markets for our exports, which has been a tremendous success…We strongly urge the U.S. and EU to reach a negotiated settlement in this dispute and avoid the implementation of new tariffs.”

The joint comment was submitted by American Beverage Licensees, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, American Craft Spirits Association, American Distilled Spirits Association, Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Wine Institute, WineAmerica, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and National Association of Beverage Importers.

May Is National Tavern Month

Bar & Tavern Owners Urge Americans to Put Aside Differences & Raise a Glass in Celebration of Tavern Month

APRIL 30, 2019 – BETHESDA, MD – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) is proud to recognize May as National Tavern Month. Since 1953, Tavern Month has provided an opportunity to support local beverage retailers; promote the responsible service and enjoyment of beer, wine and spirits; and educate the public about the history, traditions and economic impact of the hundreds-of-thousands of on-premise beverage licensees throughout the United States.

The “American Spirit” of individualism and entrepreneurial courage is embodied in the traditions of neighborhood bars and taverns. Whether for celebrating or commiserating, get-togethers and spending time with friends are a hallmark of the bar and tavern business. While getting to know customers’ first names has become somewhat of a novelty in today’s fast-paced world, it remains an integral part of running a successful bar or tavern.

“The local tavern offers a much-needed place to put aside our differences in politics, sports and anything else that divides us – while connecting us with our friends and communities around a shared sense of conviviality and hospitality,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “From the Revolutionary War to our modern Digital Age, local bar and tavern businesses have held fast as an indelible part of America’s cultural fabric.”

The American bar and tavern, commonly referred to as the “Friendliest Place in Town,” personify both community spirit and social culture: central tenets to the civic framework of our nation. Whether a multi-generational, family-owned tavern; a new wine bar; an upscale lounge; or the corner bar, these establishments provide their customers with the same central function: serving as the place where members of the community join together over a pint of beer, glass of wine or their favorite cocktail.

While much has stayed the same, the culture of bars and taverns continues to evolve. With a strong emphasis on responsible consumption, it is vital for bar and tavern owners to operate their establishments with an eye toward responsibility. In order to provide the safest and friendliest atmosphere for their patrons, these owners and operators strive to employ innovative and effective methods of age verification, crowd control, and server training.

According to the 2018 Economic Impact Study of America’s Beer, Wine & Spirits Retailers, direct retail alcohol sales for on-premise, licensed establishments account for nearly 1.5 million jobs; $38.8 billion in direct wages and benefits; and more than $80.5 billion in direct economic impact annually. When including all sales by on-premise, full-service restaurants and drinking places, those numbers climb to 6.9 million jobs; $175.9 billion in direct wages and benefits; and over $363.3 billion in direct economic impact.

This May, join ABL and its state bar and tavern association affiliates nationwide in embracing the historic and modern roles of the American bar and tavern, the hardworking individuals who strive to keep the doors of their businesses open, and the jobs and support they provide to those in their communities. Celebrate Tavern Month this May by raising a glass to the American bar and tavern – #TheFriendliestPlaceInTown.

To learn more about #TavernMonth or to find ways to show your support, please visit www.ablusa.org/advocacy/tavern-month.

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American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than 2.03 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 $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit www.ablusa.org.

Seventeen Independent Beverage Licensees Recognized As “Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year”

APRIL 5, 2019 – BETHESDA, MD – Seventeen independent beverage licensees from states across the country have been recognized as Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year. Nominated by their state licensed beverage associations for commitment to their state associations, dedication to the beverage alcohol industry and their success in business, these licensees were honored in a ceremony at the ABL Annual Meeting on March 25, 2019.

For more than two decades, the Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year awards have celebrated retail beverage licensees who engage in the responsible sale and service of beverage alcohol, are committed to their state beverage associations, and demonstrated excellence in innovative retailing. ABL congratulates all of the honored businesses and licensees for their outstanding and continued contributions to their state associations, the industry and their communities.

“America’s independent beer, wine and spirits retailers support a dynamic and exciting industry, while striving to both encourage and promote the responsible enjoyment of beverage alcohol by adult consumers,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “These retailers have gone above-and-beyond the call of duty in their businesses, their state beverage associations, and their communities with their commitment to outstanding beverage alcohol sales and service.”

The 2019 Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year awards were presented by Michael Rasp – Brown-Forman’s Nevada State Manager. Rasp, who also presented the awards at the ABL Honors Gala in 2017, thanked the independent beverage licensees for their contributions to the alcohol beverage industry – highlighting the important role that independent retailers play in the continued success of the industry.

The 2019 Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year Honorees include:

  • William Johnston III | Liquor Express & Craft Beer Store | Huntsville, Alabama
  • Grant McCabe & Scott McReynolds | Rounders | Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Dennis Dinsmore & Joe Henry | Wyatt’s Wet Goods | Longmont, Colorado
  • Mike Kelley | Beach Liquors & Wine Merchants | Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
  • Art Ohmer | Gilligan’s Party Beverage Center | Savannah, Georgia
  • Bruce J. Hampton | Dutch Hollow Barn | Belleville, Illinois
  • Todd Antz | Keg Liquors | Clarksville, Indiana
  • Eric Hall & James Fogle | Mammoth Liquors | Campbellsville, Kentucky
  • Michael Ball | Silver Run Liquors | Westminster, Maryland
  • Gary Rogow | ABC Liquors | California, Maryland
  • Harry Patel | Heller’s Liquor Mart | Chelsea, Massachusetts
  • Mertice Marottek | Buckhorn Bar | Poplar, Montana
  • Angelo Marracino | Clarence Liquor Mart | Clarence, New York
  • Josh & Morgan Hammond | Buster’s Liquors & Wines | Memphis, Tennessee
  • Ervin Lee | L & M Retail Ventures, LLC | Dallas, Texas
  • Jerry Day | Second Shot Saloon | Fennimore, Wisconsin
  • Van Galloway | El Marko Lanes | Casper, Wyoming

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American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers.  Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than a 2.03 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 $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes.  To learn more about ABL, visit www.ablusa.org.
About Brown-Forman: For more than 145 years, Brown-Forman Corporation has enriched the experience of life by responsibly building fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s & Cola, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Finlandia, Korbel, el Jimador, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Canadian Mist, Herradura, New Mix, Sonoma-Cutrer, Early Times, Chambord, BenRiach, The GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh. Brown-Forman’s brands are supported by nearly 4,600 employees and sold in approximately 160 countries worldwide. For more information about the company, please visit www.brown-forman.com. Brown-Forman reminds you to please drink responsibly.

J.J. Moran of Four Winds Liquor & Lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming Elected ABL President

J.J. Moran | ABL President
J.J. Moran | ABL President

APRIL 4, 2019 – BETHESDA, MD – John P. Moran, Jr. (“J.J.”), owner of Four Winds Liquor & Lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was elected President by the American Beverage Licensees (ABL) Board of Directors on March 24, 2019. Moran will serve as the 9th President of ABL – the nation’s leading national association dedicated to representing the interests of America’s independent beer, wine and spirits retailers.

Elected as part of the association’s 17th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, Moran will serve a two-year term, leading the association as it advocates on behalf of independent on- and off-premise beverage retailers from across the United States in its efforts to defend and support beverage licensees and a strong and robust Three-Tier System.

“As an association, we are extremely fortunate to have J.J. serve as our next president,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “J.J.’s passion for, and commitment to, our industry – of which he has been actively involved in for over forty years – is unquestionable. Having been on the frontline of an ever-evolving industry during that time, and thanks to his understanding of the fundamentals that have made the beverage alcohol business so attractive to consumers and communities alike, I can think of few individuals better positioned to lead ABL during this time of industry evolution.”

Moran has been a member of the ABL Board of Directors since 2013, serving as both Vice President On-Premise and Vice President Off-Premise. He was also a member of ABL’s Communications & Membership Committee from 2014-2019, serving as Co-Chair from 2016-2019. He is actively involved at the local and state level, having joined the Wyoming State Liquor Association (WSLA) in 1994 and served as WSLA President from 2013-2014. He has also served as Treasurer and Vice President of the WSLA during his 25-year membership.

Moran has owned and operated Four Winds Liquor & Lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming for 43 years, having purchased the license and opening the business with his father J.P. in 1976. In the ensuing decades, Moran built the business into one of the leading retail establishments in Cheyenne.

“I know it has been said by my predecessors, but it truly is an honor, privilege and a humbling experience to be elected by my peers to serve as the next president of American Beverage Licensees,” said J.J. Moran. “Having witnessed firsthand the many challenges retailers face every day – whether from legislative, regulatory or public pressures – I look forward to working closely with the ABL Executive Committee, Board of Directors and staff during my term as we strive to build our association and continue to represent the interests of independent, Main Street beverage retailers from across the country.”

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American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers.  Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than a 2.03 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 $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes.  To learn more about ABL, visit www.ablusa.org.

ABL Annual Meeting Focuses on ‘Challenge of Change’ for Independent Beverage Licensees & Alcohol Industry

APRIL 3, 2019 – BETHESDA, MD – Independent beverage licensees and their hospitality industry partners came together on March 24-26, 2019 for American Beverage Licensees’ (ABL) 17th Annual Meeting at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. During the meeting, attendees networked with their peers from across the country while also learning about emerging trends and ongoing issues affecting the beverage alcohol industry.

“For bar, tavern and liquor store owners, change is occurring in their industry faster than ever before. Social and business norms are being tested and beverage licensees will play a key role in determining what the future beverage alcohol marketplace looks like,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “This year’s ABL Annual Meeting challenged attendees’ self-awareness by addressing provocative but relevant issues that beverage retailers are currently facing – or will face in the near future.”

The annual meeting featured two keynote addresses from longtime industry veterans who shared their wisdom and ideas from the beer and spirits industries, respectively.

Keith Villa, Brewmaster & Co-Founder of CERIA Brewing Company, shared his unique perspective on the beer industry, from discussing his vision as the creator of Blue Moon more than two decades ago, to starting his own brewing company that incorporates cannabis into products and the challenges and opportunities that come with being at the forefront of an emerging product marketplace.

Peter Angus, Executive Vice President of U.S. & Canadian Sales for Tito’s Handmade Vodka, discussed the rapid rise – and exceptional success – of Tito’s over the past decade, and how culture, quality and commitment have made their product the number one on- and off-premise distilled spirits brand in the United States. Peter also emphasized the vital role that independent retailers continue to play in the success of not just Tito’s but the industry as whole.

With a Supreme Court case pending and state legislatures debating hundreds of bills that would affect the beverage alcohol industry, a handful of industry attorneys were on hand to breakdown the legal issues of the day and alcohol regulatory trends in the states.

Scott Keller, Partner with the law firm Baker Botts, LLP and Michael Madigan, Managing Shareholder of law firm Madigan, Dahl & Harlan, P.A., provided attendees with an overview of legal cases currently in the courts that have the potential to upend the traditional Three-Tier System of beverage alcohol in the United States, including the current U.S. Supreme Court case of Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair.

A panel discussion on key issues facing state alcohol regulators, including the challenges they face in the ever-scrutinized world of licensing and enforcement, featured Jake Hegeman, Vice President – Legal & Regulatory Affairs for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America; Matthew Botting, General Counsel for California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; and Neal Insley, Senior Vice President & General Counsel for the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

Meeting speakers also addressed a variety of important trends in beverage alcohol media; mobile sales platforms and data; sports gaming; impaired driving policy; and sexual harassment in the hospitality workplace.

ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich led a Q&A Session with Harry Schumacher, Owner & Publisher of Beer Business Daily, who answered a range of questions on topics including diversity in the industry (with a focus on women leaders); craft momentum; wholesaler consolidation; and what media outlets we should trust for our industry news.

Roi Kliper, CEO of City Hive, Inc., a provider of branded digital solutions to thousands of independent retailers around the country, discussed what retailers should be paying attention to when it comes to fully utilizing their customer data, and how to build for success in this new and challenging business environment.

Becky Harris, immediate past-chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and current academic fellow at the UNLV International Center for Gaming Regulation, shared her views on the current state of sports betting following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down its federal ban – and what it could mean for beverage licensees looking to establish or expand lottery and gambling offerings in retail establishments.

Ann Kitch, Transportation Research Analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, shared her insights into the policy world of impaired driving, how she identifies and monitors state legislation on traffic safety issues and the rise of drug-impaired driving as it relates to legislation in state capitols across the country.

Heather Stone, Legal Counsel at the national law firm Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP, shared her expertise and insights into helping employers lower the frequency and severity of employment practice claims – focusing on what those in the hospitality industry should be paying attention to in the #MeToo era.

The 2019 ABL Annual Meeting also provided an opportunity for ABL to recognize those who make a difference in the industry. Seventeen retail beverage businesses from across the country were recognized as 2019 Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year at the ABL Honors Gala on March 26, 2019. In attendance to present the awards was Michael Rasp, Brown-Forman’s Nevada State Manager.

Craig Purser, President & CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association was also recognized at the ABL Honors Gala as the 2019 ABL Top Shelf Award honoree. The ABL Top Shelf Award recognizes those who have demonstrated excellence over their careers in the beverage alcohol industry and represents the highest recognition given by America’s independent beer, wine and spirits retailers.

The ABL Board of Directors elected four beverage licensees to the ABL Executive Committee during the Annual Meeting. These individuals, each serving two-year terms, will join current ABL officers in leading the association towards meeting its strategic goals and initiatives. The new officers include:

President: John “J.J.” Moran, Jr. | Four Winds Liquor & Lounge | Cheyenne, WY
Vice President Off-Premise: Bobby Greenawalt | B&B Bartending | Auburn, AL
Vice President On-Premise: Chris Marsicano | The Village Supper Club | Delavan, WI
At-Large: Warren Scheidt | Cork Liquors | Columbus, IN

ABL thanks the following 2019 ABL Annual Meeting hosts and exhibitors: 3×3 Insights, LLC; American Distilled Spirits Association; Bacardi USA, Inc.; Beam Suntory; Brown-Forman; Casa Dragones; E. & J. Gallo Winery; Heaven Hill Brands; Infinium Spirits; Luxco; MillerCoors; National Association of Beverage Importers; Pernod Ricard USA; Proximo Spirits; Samson & Surrey; Sazerac; Serrallés USA; Tito’s Handmade Vodka; and William Grant & Sons.

Click here to view and download photos from the 2019 ABL Annual Meeting and hosted events!

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American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than a 2.03 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 $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit www.ablusa.org.

2019 ABL Top Shelf Award Presented to National Beer Wholesalers Association President & CEO Craig Purser

MARCH 26, 2019 – LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) recognized Craig Purser, President & CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), with the 2019 ABL Top Shelf Award at the association’s Honors Gala Monday night. The Gala was held in conjunction with ABL’s 17th Annual Meeting at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The ABL Top Shelf Award is the highest honor presented by America’s independent beer, wine and spirits retailers, and recognizes those who have demonstrated professional excellence in the beverage alcohol industry and have had a positive influence in their community.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Craig and NBWA for a number of years – both in my capacity as ABL President and as an ABL Board member for more than a decade,” said Steve Morris, President of American Beverage Licensees. “Craig has – time and again – demonstrated an unyielding commitment to his members, to the industry and to a strong Three-Tier System. On behalf of ABL, the board of directors and our nearly 15,000 members, we congratulate Craig on this great honor.”

Craig serves as the leading advocate for America’s more than 3,000 licensed, independent beer distributors. In this role, Craig is responsible for the strategic development and tactical execution of the association’s mission in the areas of government, public, industry and political affairs. He has led the charge to strengthen the Three-Tier System of beer distribution and state-based alcohol regulation.

During his 13-year tenure as NBWA president, Craig has been a consensus builder among industry partners, regulators, public health advocates and elected leaders. Under Craig’s leadership, NBWA worked with a wide variety of stakeholders to help Congress pass the Sober Truth on Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act. This meaningful legislation emphasizes the primary responsibility of the states to regulate alcohol as afforded them by the 21st Amendment, addresses health and safety issues related to underage drinking and authorizes grants to support innovative efforts.

“Throughout Craig’s 22 years in the Beer Industry, he has worked with more than a dozen different alcohol trade association CEOs, has seen the leadership of every major U.S. brewery turn over – multiple times – and has member companies where he has worked with fathers, sons and grandsons all sharing the same name,” said Patrick Blach – President of Blach Distributing Company in Elko, Nevada and NBWA Board Treasurer. “Through good times and challenging ones, we’ve been blessed to have Craig steering the ship at NBWA.”

As with all Top Shelf Award recipients, community involvement has played a major role in Craig’s life – both personally and professionally. Craig served as a trustee for the Alcohol Beverage Medical Research Foundation and the Center for Alcohol Policy. He also serves as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Association Committee of 100, the ASAE’s Key Industry Association Committee, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society Board of Trustees and served as chairman of the Bryce Harlow Foundation’s Board of Governors.

ABL congratulates Craig on his well-deserved award and thanks him for his continued commitment to the beverage alcohol industry and support of noble causes which seek to better the community.

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American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than a 2.03 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 $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit www.ablusa.org.