The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 75th Annual Convention & Exposition ran April 30-May 3 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas and amidst the deal-making, educational sessions and competitions, the association took time to salute three industry giants with awards for their leadership, contributions, innovation and legacy.
The association presented the Lifetime Leadership Award to Bobby Harmelin, Executive Vice President of New Jersey-based Allied Beverage Group. This 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.
Craig Wolf, WSWA President and CEO, noted Harmelin’s two-decades of involvement in nearly every association volunteer leadership and committee role. Wolf spotlighted Harmelin’s tenure as 2011-2012 association chairman, during which Harmelin undertook expanded responsibilities because Wolf was deployed to Afghanistan on Army Reserve duty.
Harmelin is a third generation family member of the company that his grandfather and great uncle started in 1934 and has been employed at Allied or its predecessor company since 1972. Today, he works alongside his oldest child, Sara. Wolf saluted Harmelin’s community and philanthropic work, especially his engagement and support for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation following a Type I diagnosis of their younger daughter in 1994.
“Bobby personifies the living legacy created by his peers and competitors. Throughout the wholesale tier, owners and managers have set a high bar for giving back and serving others,” Wolf noted. Click here to watch a video of the presentation and Harmelin’s acceptance remarks.
Sue McCullum, CEO and Chairman of St. Louis-based Major Brands was recognized with the Women’s Leadership Council Icon Award, a new honor presented by the council.
WLC Advisory Board Chair Dina Opici of Opici Family Distributing noted that the group chose to recognize an individual that has been a courageous champion within the wholesale business, an advocate for empowering women and men, inspiring others to lead, and an active participant in her local community. Opici also saluted McCollum as the first female to serve on the WSWA Executive Committee.
On behalf of the WSWA Educational Foundation, Mast-Jagermeister US CEO Jeff Popkin presented the Sidney Frank Innovation Award to Constellation Brands CEO Rob Sands. Popkin saluted Sands’ tremendous achievement in all major alcohol categories: beer, wine and spirits. He also noted Sands’ community involvement with groups such as the New York Wine and Culinary Center, Rochester General Health System, Rochester Business Alliance, and Thompson Health.
In accepting the award, Sands gave credit to his colleagues and team members. He also praised his distributor partners saying that the three-tier system is what makes the U.S. the best and most profitable place to do business in the world. Click here to view the introduction and acceptance speech.
Due to the volume of news and results from this year’s event, the association is issuing multiple news releases covering separate categories of information. A subsequent release will cover WSWA’s new chairman, representatives to the association’s Executive Committee as well as Wolf’s formal remarks at what will be his last convention as President and CEO.
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 more than 380 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 U.S.