New York-based Breakthru Beverage Group, the beverage wholesaler formed by Charmer Sunbelt and Wirtz Beverage on Jan. 1,  launched Jan. 4 in markets across the country.  The operations of the company and its affiliates span 19 markets, and the company represents a portfolio of premier wine, spirits and beer brands totaling more than $6 billion in annual sales. 

“Breakthru Beverage is built upon the best of our legacy operations while setting a new path and approach forward,” said Greg Baird, Breakthru Beverage president and chief executive officer, in a statement.  “Our vision for the future is focused on excellence and how we can be a stronger and more innovative partner for our suppliers and customers in all of our markets.”

W. Rockwell Wirtz and Charles Merinoff will lead Breakthru Beverage Group as co-chairmen of the Board.  Daniel (Danny) Wirtz will serve as vice-chairman and on the operating committee with Charlie Merinoff. Together, they will oversee the integration of the businesses, manage and direct strategic planning and play a key role in supplier relations. Baird will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company, and will have organizational oversight and direct management of the senior leadership team. 

“The name Breakthru was chosen very deliberately,” Danny Wirtz noted. “We truly believe we can challenge the boundaries of the traditional distributor and bring a focused and insightful approach to how we do business.”

The Breakthru Beverage brand replaces legacy house names in markets including Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. Nevada will transition to the Breakthru brand in the ensuing weeks as the state licensing process concludes. Wirtz Beverage Canada and Alliance Beverage in Alabama, Arizona and Mississippi will maintain their names.

The market leadership, expertise and brand portfolios customers are accustomed to remain unchanged, the company states.  The company also will maintain existing facilities and employ more than 7,000 people nationwide.

“The pace at which we are moving should indicate the level of commitment and excitement we have about Breakthru,” Baird said.  “Not only is our integration work well underway, but early indications are that our local markets teams delivered excellent results during the critically important holiday selling period. We have put together a significantly expanded, unified footprint that will bring execution, operational and brand building excellence to life in a way that all of our supplier partners are looking for.”