Beer Industry Partnerships And Value Of Independent Three-Tier System Highlighted at NBWA’s 75th Annual Convention

SAN DIEGO, CA – Today, Bob Archer of Blue Ridge Beverage Company, Inc. in Salem, Virginia, assumed the position of 2012-2013 chairman of the Board for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) at the association’s 75th Annual Convention at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. As chair, Archer 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.

Archer outlined three primary goals for the association in addressing current and future challenges and the beer industry’s rapidly changing environment: to build the association’s resources, build its capability to advocate and build relationships. He articulated NBWA’s mission of putting beer distributors first, but also the desire to work with industry partners whenever possible. “I believe we can agree that the American beer industry is the very best in the world.

“Some of the efforts to dismantle or deregulate the three-tier system have the potential to take us back in time to a place that creates winners and losers at all levels of the system — with the ultimate loser being the public,” Archer said. He described the strengths of the American three-tier distribution system — such as the ability to efficiently address quality issues, citing a recent example of Heineken USA’s voluntary recall of specific bottles and the way distributors helped to quickly and efficiently pull potentially effected bottles out of the marketplace. “In addition to providing traceability and accountability, the American system sets the standard for delivering variety and choice for the consumer like no other system in the world,” he said.

Attendees also heard from the leaders of some of the nation’s most prominent brewers and importers, who came together on one stage for a discussion moderated by James Hellman, NBWA treasurer and owner of Preferred Distributors LLC in Sparta, Wisconsin. The discussion included Sam Calagione, president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Brewers Association chair; Luiz Edmond, president North America for Anheuser-Busch; Bill Hackett, president of Crown Imports LLC; Tom Long, president of MillerCoors LLC and Beer Institute chair; and Dolf van den Brink, president and CEO of HEINEKEN USA. The leaders had a candid exchange about the success of America’s three-tier distribution system, challenges and opportunities for the beer industry and the importance of “brand beer,” especially in competing with other alcohol beverages.

The suppliers discussed the extensive choice and variety available in the American beer market and the three-tier system’s role in its success. They also emphasized camaraderie, the strength of their distributor partnerships and the industry’s collective goal of continuing to build brands, innovate, improve marketing, better relate to female customers and reach new consumers.

General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan, offered attendees his insights on leadership and how change requires new ways of thinking, new partners and a different type of leadership. He emphasized the importance of shared consciousness and unity of purpose and how relationships and partnerships are critical to achieving strategic objectives.

NBWA President & CEO Craig Purser concluded the general session by noting that the association’s 75th anniversary is a special milestone many organizations don’t reach. He pointed to the evolution of the beer distribution industry, referencing General McChrystal’s statements on the importance of both discipline and flexibility for a fighting force and for an effective organization.

Purser noted that — with more than 2,000 brewers and at least 13,000 labels of beer for consumers to enjoy — it’s clear that today’s regulatory system works so well for so many. It balances competing interests within an orderly market with robust inter-brand competition and balances consumer interest in competition with the public’s interest in effective alcohol control. “While our system can always be improved, I believe that much of the beer industry’s growth is because of the independent distribution system and a state-based regulatory system, not in spite of it.”

NBWA’s 75th Annual Convention will conclude with a 75th anniversary celebration aboard the U.S.S. Midway with entertainment by award-winning country music artist Phil Vassar.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents the interests of America’s 3,300 licensed, independent beer distributor operations in every state, congressional district and media market across the country. Beer distributors are committed to ensuring alcohol is provided safely and responsibly to consumers of legal drinking age through the three-tier, state-based system of alcohol regulation and distribution. To learn more about America’s beer distributors, visit For additional updates from NBWA, follow @MrBeerGuy on Twitter and visit

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