(San Diego, CA) – The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) honored several talented industry leaders today during NBWA’S 75th Annual Convention held October 14-17, in San Diego, California.
The NBWA Life Service Award is presented to beer distributors who have dedicated a lifetime of service to the industry, community and fellow distributors. The first Life Service Award was presented posthumously to Mike McKinney, former chief executive officer of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas (WBDT) who passed away earlier this year. Receiving the award on his behalf was LaNan McKinney. McKinney began work at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in 1977 and joined WBDT in 1984. As WBDT’s CEO, McKinney represented the interests of the beer distribution industry in Washington, D.C., and in the state legislature in Austin. NBWA President & CEO Craig Purser noted, “Mike was a mentor and always took time to teach those who were willing to take the time to learn. He shared one piece of advice that really stuck with me over the years. He said, ‘Craig, there are really only two things distributors care about… their family and their businesses. You figure that out, and everything else comes pretty easy.’”
The next Life Service Award recipient was Steve Sourapas, who got into the beer business at age 17 when his father passed away and left him a one-truck beer distributorship in Los Angeles. He ran the business for four months before being drafted to the Philippines. After his military service, he attended the University of Southern California and helped the track team win the National Championship title in 1949. Sourapas worked as a sales representative for Hamm’s before becoming a Hamm’s distributor in San Diego. At that time, Crest Beverage Company included just three people. In 2009, Steve formed a joint venture with Reyes Holdings. By then, Crest was selling 7.5 million cases of beer across San Diego. Today, Crest employs 300 people and sells 13 million cases of beer each year. “Steve continues to be a hardworking salesman and doesn’t miss a single NBWA meeting,” Purser said.
The final Life Service Award recipient was Don Faust Sr., who entered the beer business in 1944 at age 16 when he worked part-time at the Southern Select Brewery in Galveston, Texas. After graduating high school, he joined Falstaff Distributing Co. and worked his way up to sales manager. At age 30, Faust capitalized on Falstaff’s need for a distributorship in Baytown, Texas, and formed Faust Distributing Company. With nine employees, the new company began delivering beer on four routes from a converted garage in Baytown. Faust Distributing now employs more than 200 people and operates out of Houston, Texas, with Faust providing leadership and strategic direction. Faust has been active in local, state, and national beer wholesaler associations for more than 40 years. He and his wife, Sidney, are also involved with Texas Children’s Cancer Center and host retreats for cancer patients and their families. “Don’s commitment to his community and the beer distribution industry is an inspiration to many of us as well as future generations,” said Purser.
The NBWA Industry Service Award was presented to four state association executives for their energy, insight and service to the distribution industry and for making significant decisions that will influence the industry today and for years to come. The first recipient was Clark Corson, who recently retired from his position as president of the Beverage Distributors of New Hampshire after four decades of service. With a healthy dose of humor, Corson guided three generations of beer distributors through the legislative process in what he describes as the “small but influential state” of New Hampshire. He fought to communicate the need for the middle tier and the value of beer distributors, with countless legislative successes in the areas of franchise law, taxation and more.
The next Industry Service Award recipient was Denny Gallagher, president of the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association, who has led efforts to uphold state alcohol regulation by seeking to enforce the terms of Virginia law and standing up to challenges. He also has organized effective opposition to deregulatory proposals that would leave a gaping hole in the state’s budget.
The third Industry Service Award recipient was Tim Kent, executive director of the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. Under his leadership, the state association built a coalition that supported and passed legislation that strengthened the North Carolina franchise law and assured a level playing field for all distributors across the state. He also worked on a bill that would provide fairness for distributors related to supplier pricing practices.
The final Industry Service Award recipient was Mitch Rubin, executive director of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, who has spearheaded efforts to address concerns related to tied-house conflicts between suppliers and retailers. He has advanced a meaningful defense of tied-house laws in Florida through a detailed review of a proposal to sell alcohol and potential ownership conflicts.
The NBWA Public Affairs Award recognizes outstanding efforts to advocate for and promote the beer distribution industry through effective communications and public affairs initiatives. It was presented to J.J. Taylor Distributing Company of Minnesota, a company that is aggressive in the social media space, utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Untappd and Pinterest. Earlier this year, an employee started a “Clean Pint” campaign on Twitter that encouraged consumers to take photos of their beer glassware and post them online to determine which establishments used the most “beer clean” glasses. The campaign garnered so much attention that it picked up mainstream press coverage in Minnesota’s Star Tribune. J. J. Taylor also redesigned its website to include interactive features to help consumers find the perfect brew and explore the history of beer. In addition, the company’s email newsletter informs consumers about new products and beer-centric events.
The Whitey Littlefield Award was presented in memory of the former NBWA Political Action Committee (PAC) chairman who established the Chairman’s Circle recognition group because he believed those who give the maximum contributions need to be recognized for their commitment and belief in the future of the association. In that spirit, the Whitey Littlefield Award was presented to L & F Distributors of Texas and New Mexico. L & F has demonstrated what it means to have distributor employee and next generation participation in the NBWA PAC. L & F is politically active on both sides of the aisle and knows the value of being bipartisan.
The R. Kenneth Kerr Award was presented in memory of the man who more than 30 years ago was an instrumental leader in the creation of the NBWA PAC. The award is presented to a distributor member who goes above and beyond in “drilling down” and encouraging more distributor employees to participate in the PAC. This year’s award was presented to Jimmy Yahnis, executive vice president of Yahnis Coastal – Myrtle Beach, for his passion for the association, tireless energy for the beer distribution industry, and a fierce, competitive spirit that drives his vision to grow the NBWA PAC. During his first year as an NBWA Board member, PAC donations from South Carolina increased by 20 percent.