The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) kicked off its 84th Annual Convention and Trade Show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Held annually, the convention brings beer distributors together from across the country to discuss the future of the industry. This year’s event marks the first time NBWA members will be able to assemble in person since the onset of the pandemic. 

“We are so fortunate to once again convene the hardworking members of the beer distribution industry in Las Vegas,” said Craig Purser, president and CEO of NBWA, in a statement. “It’s been a long, difficult two years since we were last together in person, both for the industry and the entire country. In the face of these challenges, our industry and members have been resilient and essential to the communities where they live and operate. This year’s convention is a well-deserved opportunity to connect, learn, socialize and celebrate.”

To kick-off the general session, Purser and NBWA Chairman Patrick Blach discussed the challenges the beer distribution industry has overcome in the past year, including COVID-19, market access threats and opportunities to better position the industry for growth ahead. They highlighted the past year’s record of accomplishments, including key legislative achievements and the award-winning Distributor’s Against Human Trafficking Initiative.

“Last year when I spoke to you about my goals as chairman, I outlined the values my family instilled in me that have been a beacon throughout my career ― a willingness to take risks, hard work and stewardship. I believe those values helped our industry weather, and continue to weather, the pandemic. But beyond just surviving, we achieved several specific wins on behalf of our industry,” Blach said.

Additionally, Purser unveiled an updated NBWA logo during his speech.

“Nearly three years ago, the Board debated refreshing our logo and expanding our tagline from 'America’s Beer Distributors' to 'America’s Beer and Beverage Distributors.' Mid-way through 2019, it felt like we might be getting ahead of ourselves. But now, with all the continued expansion in our sector, this is absolutely the right time to refresh our logo,” said Purser. "It reflects who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going. But most importantly, it’s also true to our roots.”

NBWA also honored two beer distributors with the association’s highest honor, the Life Service Award. Barry Andrews, founder of Andrews Distributing Co., and James C. Fabiano Senior, President and CEO of Fabiano Brothers Inc. were recognized for their service and commitment to the beer distribution industry.

Attendees also heard political analysis from journalist Jessica Yellin, an economic outlook from economist Marci Rossel, as well as a presentation on the Beer Growth Initiative. 

This year, the NBWA Trade Show floor is sold out, and boasts 150-plus exhibitors from across the country.  

Purser added, “I’m so excited about the future of our industry — the growth, innovations, opportunities and yes, the challenges that await us. But together, we have overcome incredible hurdles with tenacity and resiliency. I believe, ultimately, we will all come out stronger.”