May 2013
A Conversation With Industry Professionals
year marks WSWA’s 70
Tell us what’s new with the convention?
We want to change,
make it fresh, make it exciting. If you look
at the convention where it is today, com-
pared to where it was when I started 13
years ago, it’s unrecognizable. From the
competitions we have now—suppliers
line up to be in these competitions—to
the events, to the types of educational
sessions we’re offering. We’ve sold out all
the lower level space, and we have sold
out all the traditional suites. Basically we
had to offer additional opportunities for
people to exhibit just at the Taste of the
Industry, because we had no other op-
portunities. And we actually have a new
competition this year, Hoptails [Hoptails
Mixology Competition], and that’s excit-
ing because this year we’re introducing
We have two separate unique launch-
es at the convention, plus Dan Aykroyd
is coming this year to support his vodka,
Crystal Head. He knows that it’s about
business, and business requires you to
be present. He’s got the right idea. He
comes to our convention, he works the
wholesalers, works the crowd. If celebri-
ties want to be successful, they better ap-
proach it as more than just getting a name
out and assuming it will sell. We’ve seen
plenty of flash-in-the-pans come and go.
If you want to make it work, you better be
prepared to make it work. And how do
you do that in this country? You partner
with wholesalers.
How important is making a great
presentation on the exhibit floor?
The fact is that when most suppli-
ers—small suppliers—get into market,
they don’t have the resources to go out to
retailers and explain their products. They
are start-ups and they are just trying to
figure things out. That’s what wholesalers
do, but you still have to sell the whole-
saler in the first instance. When you get
to our convention, the same thing applies.
You have all this exhibit space. You have
all these people on the floor, on the lower
levels. If you’re not smart in how you mar-
ket at the convention, you’re going to be
left behind. We always run into people at/
after the convention who say, “You know,
my experience was great. Within one day,
I made this connection and that one.”
You’ve been at WSWA
since 2000—you started as general
counsel—and you’ve been president
since 2006. What do you see as
your biggest achievements during
your tenure?
Craig Wolf
President & CEO, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers
of America (WSWA)
The Beverage Network recently sat down with Craig Wolf,
in advance of the 2013 Convention in Orlando, FL—marking
WSWA’s 70
anniversary—to discuss the state of the association,
their most pressing issues and the value of the convention.
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