12
BEVERAGE MEDIA
May 2013
CW:
I like to think of it in two ways—
internal and external. Internally, I wanted
to modernize the organization from a
business standpoint. I wanted to create
a top-notch staff that was fully integrated
with each department so we had a really
effective organization. My goal was to
make sure that every position had the right
person with the right experience to do the
job. And then to get the systems up to date,
too—accounting software, membership
software, renovating the office. We’re
almost completed on this front. In fact,
we’re going to have a bar as our reception
desk so we can have events there
as well.
Externally, I wanted to make sure that
people understood we were not a one-
trick pony, that we had many issues we
were concerned about. Our agenda is
very broad. So we cover state issues, we
cover federal issues—not just three-tier
issues, but we also deal with tax issues,
food safety issues. And we’ve got issues
coming up dealing with transportation,
and some of the wage/hours service is-
sues. We wanted to make sure that our
capabilities were responding to the needs
of our members, which we’ve done.
TBN:
What is your take on consolida-
tion at the wholesale level? How are
you able to maintain your appeal to
smaller distributors?
CW:
Consolidation’s an issue. What I
don’t want to see—in an association
where the big guys provide a great
percentage of funding—is to forget that
we represent all distributors. We are far
better served if we represent everybody.
If we go around saying we represent
only 10 wholesalers in this country, even
if it’s 60% of the volume, that’s not good
enough for me. I want to keep growing
and broadening.
The guys that join us now, the smaller
distributors, join us more for a business
reason. They join for the convention, to
pick up product. They’re trying to grow,
they want to see what’s out there and
what they can carry and sell. They’re
more focused on their bottom lines. The
more experienced, veteran members
are all about government affairs, litiga-
tion, how are we protecting their inter-
ests. There’s a dichotomy between the
old and the new. We have affinity pro-
grams, that didn’t exist before 2006;
these programs offer our members very
significant savings every year on things
like insurance.
ON LEGISLATION &
REGULATION
TBN:
What are some of the political
issues WSWA is expecting to deal
with in the near future?
CW:
We’re focused on the tax agenda
most importantly at this point. We don’t
see excise tax right now as being an
issue, but it could come up. It’s been
awhile, so we’re prepared to deal with
that if it comes up.
On the regulatory side of things, I
think it’s growing in importance and
we just don’t know what’s going to
come out from the administration when
it comes to labor, for instance, and
environmental issues that will affect
us. It’s very perplexing, because you
don’t know what they’ve got planned.
They held a lot of stuff off pending the
election. We know they are going to
start coming out with regulations that
could affect our members in areas that
we didn’t necessarily foresee. So we’re
going to make sure we’re trying to cover
those areas.
ON PRIVATIZATION
TBN:
In 2012, Washington State
approved privatization. Now
Pennsylvania is moving in that
direction. Where does WSWA stand
on privatization?
CW:
First of all, we look at Washington
State as what not to do. We’ve never
taken a position in favor of or opposed
to privatization. States have to make that
determination. But, whenever they go into
these discussions they should be very
careful how they tinker with the system,
because the fact is that the systems that
have existed in the licensed and control
states creating the divisions between the
tiers has been very successful. When you
talk in Pennsylvania about privatization,
make sure you understand that you can
privatize it, if that’s what your people want
and your legislature decides, but don’t
throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Keep the regulations. Keep control.
Keep accountability.
n
“WHAT I DON’T WANT TO SEE—IN AN
ASSOCIATION WHERE THE BIG GUYS PROVIDE
A GREAT PERCENTAGE OF FUNDING—
IS TO FORGET THAT WE REPRESENT ALL
DISTRIBUTORS. WE ARE FAR BETTER SERVED IF
WE REPRESENT EVERYBODY.”
SPEAK
EASY
A Conversation With Industry Professionals
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