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WSWA Convention Update: Gerry Ruvo, Carmine Martignetti Address General Session

April 20, 2017

The 74th Annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) convention kicked off yesterday with a general session featuring speeches by incoming WSWA chairman Carmine Martignetti and Campari America chairman Gerry Ruvo, who was presented with the Sidney Frank Innovation Award.

WSWA president and CEO Craig Wolf began the Wednesday morning session by introducing incoming chairman Carmine Martignetti, co-president of family-held Martignetti Companies, New England’s leading spirits and wine distributor. Martignetti, who succeeds fellow New England wholesaler Doug Epstein of Horizon Beverage as WSWA chairman, said the trade group remains well-positioned to adapt to challenges across the rapidly changing drinks industry, noting that he’s confident in WSWA’s “approach, mission and capabilities.”

Martignetti said the WSWA would continue to work on identifying potential threats to the three-tier system at the state and federal levels in the year ahead, while promoting three-tier-compliant approaches to growth throughout the industry. He cited Southern Glazer’s Harvey and Wayne Chaplin as leading the charge behind WSWA’s acquisition of a stake in Drizly—the three-tier-embedded delivery platform that partners with local beverage alcohol retailers—identifying the move as an example of forward-thinking that will benefit the middle tier looking ahead. Martignetti also said the WSWA has opened a dialogue with advocates of loosening marijuana restrictions across the U.S., and that those advocates increasingly see beverage alcohol’s three-tier arrangement as “a safe, effective distribution model worth replicating.”

Following Martignetti, Mast-Jägermeister U.S. CEO Jeff Popkin stepped to the podium to present the Sidney Frank Innovation Award, which honors industry members whose contributions to the drinks business have been accompanied by noteworthy philanthropic efforts and community service. This year’s recipient was 40-year industry veteran Gerry Ruvo, who has been instrumental in building the Campari America portfolio through additions like Wild Turkey Bourbon, Skyy Infusions, Espolòn and Cabo Wabo Tequilas, Appleton rum and other key brands. Mast-Jägermeister U.S. partnered with the WSWA Education Foundation to create the award, which honors legendary marketer Sidney Frank. On behalf of Ruvo, Mast-Jägermeister and WSWA will make a donation to the American Cancer Society and Prostate Cancer Foundation. —Daniel Marsteller and Christina Jelski

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