Danny Stepper, CEO/Co-Founder, L.A. Libations
It’s BevNET’s honor to name Danny Stepper, the co-founder and CEO of L.A. Libations, as the winner of this year’s BevNET Person of the Year. Danny, we believe, represents a true vision of entrepreneurship within the beverage industry, and his work in the past year shows the fruit of his determination to prove that a company can produce while mid-pivot. It’s fair to say that as late as the fall of 2019, the future of L.A. Libations was uncertain due to the end of its relationship with longtime corporate partner Coca-Cola. But Danny has led L.A. Libations through a remarkable rebound in 2020, spurred by a new partnership with Molson Coors beverage company. L.A. Libations has entered this system like a Swiss Army Knife, helping to create a new set of nonalcoholic products and partnerships that allow the company’s beer distributors to on-board high-profile national products like La Colombe and rising stars like ZEN WTR, while also encouraging Danny to roll the dice in innovative categories. He has also managed to fuse his passion for entertainment and movies with his beverage roots, fostering the growth of new products Don’t Quit and Orro with associates from the world of television, movies, and action sports. It’s hard to mention Danny without his partners, Pat Bolden and Dino Sarti, but it’s also hard not to notice how hard Danny has fought to keep that partnership viable through the constant search for new ways for the trio to have an impact on the business they have built together. That determination and optimism combine with an outstanding set of relationships, recognition of talent, and unmatched willingness to create partnerships and connections for people from all walks of life. One of the most interesting partnerships Danny worked on this year was the deal between Molson Coors and Coke to develop a hard seltzer under the Coke-owned Topo Chico brand. It’s a remarkable example of an entrepreneur being willing to do what it takes for the benefit of all partners -- regardless of past bruises. And it’s for that incredible year -- in which L.A. Libations has come back from those bruises and created an exciting new set of opportunities, both for itself and for its partners -- that made Danny such an easy choice for Person of the Year.