NBWA Kicks Off 86th Annual Convention With Call for Industry Unity to Support Beer
Opening Day Includes Forward-Looking Speakers and Life Service Award Presented to Indiana’s Bruce Leetz
Las Vegas, NV – The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) today kicked off its 86th Annual Convention & Trade Show in Las Vegas, bringing together over 2,600 beer distributors and industry stakeholders from across the country.
Headlining the first day of the convention, NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser and Chairman of the Board Gordan Green both stressed the need for the beer industry to come together to boost the category and address falling consumption.
“The entire industry needs to step up and help support beer, show its value to our retail and on-premise partners, and help make beer a more appealing and the first option for young, legal drinking age customers,” said Green. “But let’s be clear – beer isn’t going anywhere and continues to be America’s top alcohol drink of choice.”
Green and Purser also presented the NBWA Life Service Award to the Chairman of Indiana Beverage, Bruce Leetz. The award is the Association’s highest honor and recognizes individuals who have committed their life to the beer distribution industry.
“We are privileged to recognize Bruce, who is a strong, loyal member of the industry, and has provided selfless leadership throughout his career,” said Purser. “One bit of NBWA lore – as far as I know, Bruce was the first and ONLY NBWA sergeant at arms. A position we basically made up to keep Bruce around!”
In addition to the Life Service Award, the NBWA also presented two other awards for exemplary leadership in the beer distribution industry.
- Eagle Beverage Corporation in Frontenac, Kansas, was honored with the 2023 Public Affairs Award for the company’s “Folds of Honor” campaign.
- Both Jennifer Grant, General Manager and Vice President of Markstein Sales Company, and Michele Connors, owner of S.R. Perrott, Inc. were honored with the Freida G. Maisel Trailblazer Award for demonstrating leadership and inclusivity in the industry.
The opening general session featured industry leaders discussing the state of the beer and beverage sector.
“This year, many distributors struggled while others have had an incredibly successful year,” said Green. “We know we cannot control market forces, the changing tastes of consumers or actions by our suppliers. But when things get tough, we know we have a champion in our corner. NBWA is OUR advocate, and it’s only as effective and strong as its members, so I encourage you to get involved.”
Attendees also heard from acclaimed pollster and political analyst, Kristen Soltis Anderson, and Coca-Cola North America’s Chief of New Revenue Streams, Dan White, who each shared their unique perspective on the future of the beer and beverage industry.
The 86th Annual Convention & Trade Show will continue through tomorrow.