ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) closed out the 83rd Annual Convention and Product Showcase today with the transition of the Chairmanship from Brian Gelner to Patrick Blach, President of Blach Distributing Company in Elko, Nev. The final day of the virtual Convention also featured insights from beer and spirits industry leaders, who shared perspectives on the current state of the industry and what the future may hold in a post-COVID economy, and advice from a battle-tested leader on leading during a crisis.
“Pat has committed much of his professional career to the advancement of the beer distribution industry,” said Craig Purser, NBWA President and CEO. “His active involvement in NBWA, along with his deep knowledge and passion for the beer business, makes him an ideal choice to lead the association as its next Chairman. We look forward to his leadership during such a critical year for the industry.”
Addressing the Convention, Blach highlighted the challenges and opportunities the industry continues to face during the pandemic and outlined his priorities for the association over the next year: to protect, defend and honor the hard work, sacrifice and risks taken by distributors; to actively engage members to tackle the issues ahead; and to protect the three-tier system that promotes competition and entrepreneurship.
“I am sincerely grateful for your trust and faith in me,” said Blach. “I want you all to know that I am ready, willing and able to work tirelessly on your behalf to protect our investments in our businesses – businesses that we have worked to build and grow for years and in some cases, multiple generations.”
Blach will be serving with the following officers for the 2020-2021 term:
• Vice Chairman – Peter Heimark, Heimark Distributing
• Treasurer – Gordon Green, Capital Distributing, LLC
• Secretary – Jim Fabiano, Fabiano Brothers Inc.
• Immediate Past Chairman – Brian Gelner, Heart of America Beverage Company
Following the passing of the Chairman’s gavel, the Convention attendees heard from experts across the industry, including CEO of Anheuser-Busch Michel Doukeris, who shared his thoughts on the state of the beer industry. Doukeris was very candid about his assessment of changes to the industry as a result of COVID-19.
Mark Brown, President and CEO of Sazerac, and Harry Schumacher, Editor and Publisher of Beer Business Daily, also discussed their unique perspectives on liquor sales during the pandemic; the blurred lines between beer, wine and spirits; and the regulation required to maintain a safe and successful industry.
Additionally, NBWA recognized the contributions of former Chairman and Board Member, Michael Schilleci, who stepped down as an officer, and presented this year’s Life Service Award to all of the hardworking people of the beer distribution industry. NBWA also highlighted the launch of the Distributors Against Human Trafficking Initiative, a partnership with bipartisan state attorneys general focused on educating beer distribution employees on the common signs associated with human trafficking and how to safely report it to authorities.
To close out the session, attendees heard from “One of America’s Greatest Warriors,” retired four-star General Stan McChrystal, on leading in times of great disruption and uncertainty.
“This has been a challenging year for every industry, including ours. But one thing is certain – the beer distribution industry worked together to support each other, our workforce and the communities where we live and operate,” Purser said. “Our first-ever virtual Convention has been an opportunity to reflect on these challenges while putting our heads together to look toward the future. That’s something we can all raise a glass to.”
The Convention content, including the virtual Product Showcase and 17 education seminars, will remain on the virtual platform for on-demand viewing until October 31, 2020.
During the production of the 83rd Annual NBWA Convention and Product Showcase, COVID-19 mitigation procedures were followed. Masks were worn by participants when off-camera and physical distancing was practiced by participants and production crew. Temperature checks were conducted on those entering the production studio and participants and guests were asked to self-monitor for any sign of infection or illness. CDC and Virginia Department of Health guidance was followed related to gathering size and suggested protocol.
The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents America’s 3,000 independent beer distributors with operations in every state, congressional district and media market across the country. Licensed at the federal and state levels, beer distributors get bottles, cans, cases and kegs from a brewer or importer to stores, restaurants and other licensed retail accounts through a transparent and accountable regulatory system. Distributors build brands of all sizes -- from familiar domestic beers to new startup labels and imports from around the world – and generate enormous consumer choice while supporting 142,000 quality jobs in their home communities. Beer distributors work locally to keep communities safe by sponsoring programs to promote responsible consumption, combat drunk driving and work to eliminate underage drinking.