Let a Thousand Diesels Bloom

As many of you know, our BevNET Live conference spent two days covering the things that make the industry tick. The energy, synergy and overall good will were palpable, and it was great to see old friends and to make new ones.

Our sampling bar, a mainstay and one of the highlights of the event, included over 150 brands. The coolers were stocked to the brim with the latest and most exciting products. Creativity knows no bounds. It’s exciting to see that the innovation component is alive and well, as new entrepreneurs continually come out of the woodwork, each with the dream of becoming the next great brand.

And we are seeing the beginnings of another exciting trend that needs to evolve in order to meet the needs of those entrepreneurs. I write of the need for the continued growth of a new generations to stake a claim in the marketplace.

This industry is a living, breathing entity. It recreates, adapts, and shapes itself to present day business realities. The new reality is that, while distribution is as important an element to the success of the brands as it ever was, there need to be more ways to find it. Over my twenty years I’ve seen the dominance and never-ending thirst of the “Big Guys” lead to the acquisition of the independents, and seen those independents rolled into the system. It changed the route to market for so many brands, making it near impossible to gain a foothold. All the while, a slew of major independents remained strong as their ability to provide high-touch skills became an even harder-to-find commodity. What the Red, White and Blue didn’t control, these players did. They are terrific people and quite powerful, having made many brands the successes they are today. Their role in the beverage world is crucial.

But the amount of innovation and the surplus of new brand ideas we continue to see in these pages and at every BevNET Live demands the proliferation of new wholesalers to help get them into the marketplace. Many long-time industry players are taking up the challenge, but it is encouraging to see new boutique distributorships cropping up all over the country. They are finding their niche servicing the brands that don’t fit, or aren’t large enough, to go into the Big Geysers and Haralambos Beverages of the world.  They have re-invented the distribution paradigm, and they have given hope for newer brands. They are hungry, ambitious, and have the skill sets and relationships to make it work. But we need more of them, and we should help them thrive.

I applaud this new generation. Their role is vital to the future of beverages. There is room for them to co-exist with the big system and large independent players of today. They should be encouraged and supported. Let their diesels bloom.