WASHINGTON – The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 70th Annual Convention & Exposition concluded last week—a successful end to a record-setting event.
For three days, a who’s who of nearly 2,300 beverage industry suppliers, service providers and wholesalers met at Grande Lakes Orlando to identify new product and service opportunities and network with industry leaders representing more than 300 exhibitors and sponsors. Some 200 wines, spirits and original cocktails were recognized with awards presented by panels of industry judges organized by The Tasting Panel magazine.
During the event, attendees heard keynote presentations from Hall of Fame quarterback and NFL broadcaster Terry Bradshaw and real estate mogul and television personality Barbara Corcoran. A General Technology Session included a panel led by Jonathan Gross, Director and Legal Counsel for Pemeco, a boutique enterprise resource planning (ERP) firm. The session included industry experts from Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and Infor, designed to help wholesalers understand common pitfalls and solutions when adopting and integrating new ERP and cloud computing platforms.
“This year, we sold out every inch of space—every exhibit booth, every traditional suite, every lower level suite, every room in this property, two full hotels plus overflow rooms at nearby hotels—and we did it earlier than we ever have before. The event was a total success, and we could not have achieved this without the support of exhibitors and attendees. Thank you to all who joined us in Orlando,” WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said.
He noted that the convention also marked the U.S. market launch of two high-profile new products: XB, a premium bottled cocktail, and Blue Chair Bay Rum, a top shelf rum line established by award-winning musician and entertainer Kenny Chesney.
A national satellite media tour included interviews in more than a dozen top markets, showcasing the convention and presenting trends in the beverage alcohol industry. WSWA Spokesman Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixlogist, highlighted signature drinks and summer outdoor entertaining ideas. A guide to recipes is available here.
The WSWA 70th Annual Convention & Exposition also crowned winners in four distinct competitions: the Hoptails Mixology Competition, Wine & Spirits Tasting Competition, Call for Cocktails: Mixology Competition, and the Wholesaler Iron Mixologist Competition. A complete list of all categories and winners is available here. WSWA presented the Hot, New, Now Media award based on nominations from the more than 65 industry and lifestyle journalists who attended. The winner of this award was the Mü product line from LiDestri Spirits.
The association also honored two industry giants. Richard Leventhal, Chairman of New Jersey-based Fedway Associates received the Lifetime Leadership Award, given each year to a wholesaler whose contribution to the association and alcohol beverage industry defines excellence, inspires loyalty and exemplifies leadership. Fedway associates suffered catastrophic losses to equipment, facilities and inventory in the wake of storm Sandy last fall. Within weeks, the company recovered and returned to servicing clients—a direct result of Richard’s focus and vision as a leader.
Mark Teasdale, President and CEO of Proximo Spirits, Inc., received the Sidney Frank Award, given by the WSWA Educational Foundation to a person within the wine and spirits industry who has made exceptional contributions to the industry as well as noteworthy public policy or philanthropic accomplishments. Teasdale was recognized for his leadership as an industry marketing guru and his extensive support for community and service organizations, including the Wounded Warrior Foundation, the group to which he donated the award’s $10,000 grant.
Echoing the theme of industry service, WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf delivered his annual address to the membership where he recognized a sampling of a dozen member companies from around the country who have integrated stewardship and philanthropy into their corporate business plans.
“For many companies in other sectors, corporate responsibility is a marketing message or a quick PR campaign. To the men and women of the wholesale tier, philanthropy is a central component of their businesses and has been since day one,” Wolf said.
With the WSWA 70th Annual Convention & Exposition concluded, the association is now looking ahead to its 71st event to be held April 7-9, 2014 in Las Vegas. Please visit www.wswaconvention.org for additional information. Video clips of presentations and daily WSWA-TV interviews are available here.
WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. It is dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesale distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has over 350 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 70 percent of all wines and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States. More information is available at www.wswa.org.