ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Today, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) concluded its 2021 Legislative Conference. The conference provided an opportunity for distributors from across the country to hear insider political analysis, learn about the challenges and opportunities facing the industry and gain a deeper understanding of the federal policies that impact their businesses. The rest of this week, distributors will meet virtually with members of Congress, advocating for their businesses and educating their lawmakers on key issues facing the industry. Distributors will attend almost 350 meetings with members of Congress and Hill staff.
NBWA adapted this year’s programming to be fully virtual for the first time, providing a valuable experience to its members in a safe and accessible way.
“After cancelling last year’s conference, we knew that the advocacy show had to go on, even virtually,” said NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser. “We always embrace the opportunity to share valuable knowledge and insights with distributors in hopes to better equip them with the tools and skills they need to advocate for themselves year-round. At a time that continues to challenge the industry, these skills could not be more important.”
“The willingness and enthusiasm from members of Congress to participate in these virtual Hill meetings tells us what NBWA knows so well—that beer distributors are valuable members of their communities and are essential to their local economies,” said Laurie Knight, NBWA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs. “We just want to say 'thank you' again to legislators who are taking time out of their schedules to sit down with our beer distributors this week. We hope these meetings provide legislators a better understanding of the opportunities and obstacles their beer distributor constituents face.”
The conference also featured a robust lineup of dynamic speakers. The highlights included keynote addresses from Sen. Joe Manchin (WV), who provided tips to distributors on how to effectively work with their local political leaders. Amy Walter, National Editor of The Cook Political Report, gave the second keynote, in which she provided an honest look at the current political environment and tips on how to capitalize on local media opportunities. The Honorable Cedric Richmond, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, also joined the program to share insights into the administration’s priorities.
Additionally, Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Brewery, and Mike Barnes, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of Andrews Distributing Co., discussed NBWA’s Beer Growth Initiative (BGI). BGI seeks to bring together leaders in the beer industry, including brewers, beer distributors and trade associations, to grow the beer category. During the conference, NBWA unveiled the 2021 updated resources for the Beer First sales execution toolkit, which provides fact-based selling strategies to help better tell the story of beer.
"Now is the time for all four tiers, including the consumer, to get together and help [beer] return to growth," Calagione said, referencing the value of BGI for the entire beer industry.
Conference sessions also focused on a number of pressing issues, including the impact of the pandemic and COVID-19 relief efforts on the beer distribution industry. There was specific focus on how the recently introduced bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act of 2021 will impact the beer distribution industry. Additionally, NBWA’s leading policy experts covered topics such as tax policy, shipping alcohol through the U.S. mail, transportation and infrastructure, commercial driver’s license workforce development and marijuana policy and regulation.
“We are grateful to all of our speakers, partners and participants who made this year’s virtual conference a great success. Year in and year out, the legislative conference evolves and improves, providing more educational and advocacy opportunities to our members,” added Purser. “We hope our distributors found value in this year’s programming, and more than anything, will seize the opportunity to advocate for their businesses and rally support for policies that benefit their essential industry.”
Looking forward, NBWA plans to conduct its 84th Annual Convention and Trade Show in person in Las Vegas, Nev., on October 3-6, 2021. Additionally, on November 15-17, 2021, NBWA will host its Next Generation Success in Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla.
For more information on these events, visit NBWA’s website.
The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents America’s 3,000 independent beer distributors who service 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 more than 140,000 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 reduce underage drinking.