he Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) will recognize the philanthropic and business accomplishments of two beverage alcohol legends during the association’s 73rd Annual Convention & Exposition to be held April 18-21 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.
WSWA will present its Lifetime Leadership Award to 47-year industry veteran Larry Ruvo, Senior Managing Director with Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada. The award is presented annually to a wholesaler whose contribution to the association, the beverage industry and the community defines excellence, inspires loyalty and exemplifies leadership.
The WSWA Educational Foundation will present Tito Beveridge, founder of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, with the Sidney Frank Award, given annually to a person who has made exceptional industry contributions in addition to noteworthy philanthropy and community service. The award is named for Sidney Frank, a leading innovator who built a number of successful brands and was an extraordinary philanthropist.
Lifetime Leadership Award Recipient: Larry Ruvo
Larry Ruvo’s life is a classic American success story of hard work, opportunity, luck and perseverance. His father Lou was a sightseeing driver in Niagara Falls, N.Y., who like many of the era, found opportunity by moving west, settling in Las Vegas. On a shoestring budget, Lou and his wife Angie opened The Venetian restaurant which became one of Las Vegas’ original see-and-be-seen establishments over its four-decade run.
Beginning at his family’s restaurant and moving on to the hospitality business including stints at the Frontier, Caesars Palace and the Sahara, then as general manager of the Los Angeles Playboy Club, Larry Ruvo would later branch into the wine and spirits business, building a wholesale operation he sold to Southern Wine & Spirits where he continues as Senior Managing Director in Nevada.
With deep roots in Las Vegas, Ruvo established an unrivaled record of philanthropy and engagement including starting UNLVino, an event benefitting University of Nevada, Las Vegas students. But perhaps his greatest philanthropic legacy will be the Frank Gehry designed Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
This world-class educational and care facility was inspired by watching his father face the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. Larry’s vision grew into a hub of research and investment ultimately pursuing a cure to debilitating brain diseases facing millions of aging Americans—and his persistence secured partnership with the renowned Cleveland Clinic.
Sidney Frank Award Recipient: Tito Beveridge
What began as a hobby—gifting flavor-infused vodka to friends—became one of the world’s leading beverage brands in under a decade. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Tito Beveridge began commercial production of Tito’s Handmade Vodka in 1997. In 2001 the product won the coveted Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and would grow from 1,000 cases per year at launch to over 850,000 cases per year—and growing.
As with many industry leaders, Beveridge has engrained philanthropy in his company from day one, telling one news outlet, “My belief has always been that if you can go and be a good partner with your community, everybody gets ahead. I think it’s great that some people devote their life to helping other people, and I’m happy to help.” Tito donates time and product to more than 3,500 charity events each year.
“Tito Beveridge and Larry Ruvo have set a high bar for corporate and individual giving and leadership,” said WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf. “These awards are an important way the nation’s wholesalers can recognize the important work of one of our own and one of our partners, and help to inspire the next generation following in their footsteps.”
WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesalers, distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has 366 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States. More information is available at www.wswa.org. More information about the WSWA 73rd Annual Convention & Exposition is available at www.wswaconvention.org.