Many of the newbie foreign suppliers we saw at WSWA seem to sing this same song to us on our first meeting. They’ve met some random guy trying to sell them on the guys’ relationship with Harvey Chaplin (or John Magliocco or Vern Underwood or…) He promises to not only get a meeting, but imply that it means Southern is not only going to take on the brand, but also focus the entire 30 state operation on developing the brand for you, (even though it might be a direct competitor to the bread and butter brands from the big boys).

Well, in spite of the WSWA’s public rhetoric to the contrary, distributors do not build brands; it’s the suppliers’ responsibility to do that. And the only sure way I know to get the attention of one of the major distributors is do something Marty Wolinsky and Dave Eickholt used to pound into my head: Focus, Focus, Focus. And in today’s Bev Alc industry, that means: start small and targeted, concentrate your investment and energy in a few markets, and build sustainable, repeatable, noticeable and measurable success founded on retailer support and consumer pull. THEN you can go to a distributor and present a fully integrated support program that’s scaleable. The key is to demonstrate that you have done it, not that you’re going to do it.