The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) hosted its 82nd Annual Convention and Trade Show, Sept 22-25 in Las Vegas, bringing beer distributors together from across the country. NBWA Outgoing Chairman Michael Schilleci of Alabama-based Supreme Beverage and NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser welcomed a crowd of more than 3,000 people.

“It’s great to be back together with so many hardworking members of the beer community from across the country,” Purser said in a statement. “Our annual convention is a great opportunity for beer distributors to connect, network, share best practices and learn helpful tips on how to grow their business. This year, we will be particularly interested in finding new ways to collaborate throughout the beer industry to strengthen the beer category.”

Purser and Schilleci highlighted the launch of Beers to That, a campaign that is part of Beer Growth Initiative, an industry-wide collaboration to elevate, celebrate and grow all beer. There also were discussions about issues shaping the future of industry such as diversification and eCommerce.

Additionally, attendees heard from craft beer pioneers Jim Koch, the co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Co.; and Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Brewery. On stage together for the first time since their companies merged earlier this year, Koch and Calagione shared their thoughts about recent industry trends and the future of the beer industry.

Convention attendees also received an insider’s take on the success of hard seltzers from Anthony von Mandl, founder of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and creator of White Claw.

Brian Gelner, executive vice president and CFO of Heart of America Beverage Co., also was named the new chairman of the NBWA.

“Brian is a staunch advocate for beer distributors, and we are thrilled to welcome him as our new Chairman of the Board,” Purser said. “His commitment to his community and passion for the industry is unparalleled, and I am confident he will bring the same enthusiasm to his chairmanship, helping to push our industry toward a brighter future. I would also like to recognize Michael Schilleci for his incredible year of service as our immediate past Chairman of the Board.”

Addressing the Convention, Gelner highlighted two goals for his chairmanship: to mobilize NBWA’s membership at the state and federal levels and to continue efforts to grow the beer category. Gelner emphasized that he would be taking a holistic, collaborative approach to tackle each of these priorities during the next year.

“It has been a privilege working alongside the NBWA Board, and I am thrilled to take over as chairman of this great organization,” Gelner said in a statement. “As I look forward to the next 12 months, I see challenges, but also many opportunities, for the beer distribution industry. “I am confident that with the dedication of the NBWA staff and our membership we will continue to thrive.”

Closing out the event, Purser noted the following: “The beer industry, including distributors, has a bright future thanks to the dedicated people committed to growing America’s favorite beverage. NBWA has an exciting year of work ahead, and we look forward to helping solve the industry’s greatest challenges.” BI