Posted on | March 9, 2012
Written by | BevNetwork
Vern Underwood, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Young’s Market Company, LLC, and Mark Brown, CEO of Sazerac Company, Inc. are the winners of the 2012 Wholesaler Lifetime Leadership and Sidney Frank Awards, respectively. The awards are given annually by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) and the WSWA Educational Foundation.
Both awards are dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of leading figures in the beverage alcohol industry and will be presented at WSWA’s 69th Annual Convention & Exposition to be held April 2 -5 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The Sidney Frank Award will be presented by Charlie Merinoff, WSWA incoming Chairman, during the Opening General Session on April 3rd. The Lifetime Leadership Award will be presented at the General Business Session by Craig Wolf, WSWA President and CEO, on April 5th.
“WSWA is pleased and honored to recognize Vern with the prestigious Lifetime Leadership Award for his sustained contributions to the industry,” stated Craig Wolf, president and CEO of WSWA. The award is given annually to the wholesaler whose contribution to WSWA and the alcohol beverage industry defines excellence, inspires loyalty and exemplifies leadership.
Young’s Market Company was founded in 1888 and is one of the oldest continuously operating companies in the United States. In the 68 years since the company decided to engage exclusively in the sale and distribution of wine and spirits, it has grown from a relatively small local distributor servicing Southern California to the fourth largest wine and spirits distributor in the United States. Young’s currently has operations in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Montana and Wyoming.
“Vern’s distinctive insights and leadership set him apart,” stated Wolf, “and his achievements reflect his ability to respect the past, understand the present and look over the horizon.”
The WSWA Educational Foundation selected Mark Brown for its celebrated Sidney Frank Award. The award, an iconic bust of Mr. Sidney Frank sporting his famous bow tie, will be presented by WSWA’s incoming Chairman, Charlie Merinoff, chairman of the Charmer Sunbelt Group.
“Mark’s professionalism, vision and dedication have become an industry benchmark and continue to raise the bar for standards of excellence,” Wolf said. “He is often referred to as the “champion of the 21st Amendment for his strong support of the three-tier system, and he understands the need for an industry that never wavers from its commitment to be socially responsible corporate citizens,” Wolf added.
The Sidney Frank Award is presented by the WSWA Educational Foundation to a person within the wine and spirits industry who has achieved noteworthy public policy or philanthropic accomplishments, as well as made exceptional contributions to the beverage alcohol industry. A $10,000 contribution is given in the name of the award winner to the charitable cause of his or her choosing.
Brown got his start in the beverage alcohol business at a relatively young age when he began working in his family’s pub business in the United Kingdom in 1971. From 1981 to 1992, he served as Director of New Products, National Sales Manager and, eventually, Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Sazerac. He became CEO of the company in 1997.
The Sazerac Company is a privately-held, family-owned company and conducts business in all 50 states as well as 50 foreign countries. Primarily a whiskey distiller, the Sazerac Company has manufacturing operations in California, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia. The company is also owner of the highly decorated Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Brown has designated the Louisville Zoo, with specific reference to the “School at the Zoo program” for his contribution. School at the Zoo is a hands-on, minds-on approach to foster science-based learning where students use the Louisville Zoo as a “living” classroom for an entire week. The program embraces the “no child left inside” philosophy that kids benefit greatly from being immersed in the natural world around them. Over 1,000 students attend the program each year. Brown has served on the Zoo’s board since 1992, during which time attendance has risen from 668,000 to over 870,000.
“In their own unique ways, Vern and Mark reflect what is best about our industry – and we are all the beneficiaries of their contributions and achievements,” Wolf added.
March 8, 2012