Press Release

NBWA Introduces New Chairman Brian Gelner During 82nd Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas

Media contact: Erin Donar | | 703-229-3702

Gelner details priorities as Chairman, general session discussions focus on future industry growth

Las Vegas, Nev.The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) closed out the 82nd Annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas with the passing of the Chairman’s gavel to Brian Gelner, executive vice president and CFO of Heart of America Beverage Co. The final day also featured insights from industry pioneers and experts on the cutting edge of the consumer experience.

“Brian is a staunch advocate for beer distributors, and we are thrilled to welcome him as our new Chairman of the Board,” said Craig Purser, NBWA president and CEO. “His commitment to his community and passion for the industry is unparalleled, and I am confident he will bring the same enthusiasm to his chairmanship, helping to push our industry toward a brighter future. I would also like to recognize Michael Schilleci for his incredible year of service as our immediate past Chairman of the Board.”

Addressing the Convention, Gelner highlighted two goals for his chairmanship: to mobilize NBWA’s membership at the state and federal levels and to continue efforts to grow the beer category. Gelner emphasized that he would be taking a holistic, collaborative approach to tackle each of these priorities over the next year.

“It has been a privilege working alongside the NBWA Board, and I am thrilled to take over as chairman of this great organization,” Gelner said. “As I look forward to the next twelve months, I see challenges, but also many opportunities, for the beer distribution industry. I am confident that with the dedication of the NBWA staff and our membership we will continue to thrive.”

Gelner will be serving with the followin officers for the 2019-2020 term:

  • Vice Chairman – Patrick J. Blach
  • Treasurer – Peter Heimark
  • Secretary – Gordon Green
  • Immediate Past Chairman – Michael Schilleci

Convention attendees also received an insider’s take on the success of hard seltzers from Anthony von Mandl, founder of Mike Hard Lemonade, and creator of White Claw. They also heard from innovative retailers who are implementing unique strategies to enhance the conumser experience: Chuck Ferrar, president of Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Md., and Ed Mulvihill, Director of Sales & Marketing and Partner of Peco’s Liquors in Wilmington, Del.

Additionally, NBWA recognized three outstanding brewers for their strong collaboration with their distribution partners. Lone Pine Brewing of Portland, Maine received the Brewer Partner of the Year Gold Award; Urban Chestnut Brewing of St. Louis, Mo., received the Brewer Partner of the Year Silver Award; and Remedy Brewing Co. of Sioux Falls, S.D., received the Brewer Partner of the Year Bronze Award.

Gelner and Purser presented several other awards. Lexington-based distributor Kentucky Eagle Inc. was awarded the Public Affairs Award for its work to promote the beer distribution industry through a comprehensive rebranding campaign. Wright Distributing received the Whitey Littlefield Advocacy Award for leading by example with strong participation from their employees. Finally, Jim Fabiano of Fabiano Brothers, Inc. was awarded the Kerr PAC Award for his commitment to political advocacy.

“The beer industry, including distributors, has a bright future thanks to the dedicated people committed to growing America’s favorite beverage,” said Purser. “NBWA has an exciting year of work ahead, and we look forward to helping solve the industry’s greatest challenges. Cheers!”