Distributor Panel: Distributors Offer Different Routes to Market

Distributors are looking hard for hits, but they’re also looking hard at the hitters. That’s because there’s been so much change in the larger environment for distributors – reliable sources of income like big beer companies are likely to cut margins in the near future, while established independent non-alcoholic brands have been known to pull their products at a moment’s notice. But there’s opportunity there as well – with the consolidation of Red and Blue networks, there are a lot of products looking for distribution and a decreasing number of ways to get it.

So in seeking distribution, suppliers are finding a better upside for relationships that work, but a tougher time finding potential partners: contracts, expectations concerning marketing and incentives, authorizations from large chain accounts can all stand in the way of a supplier finding a dream distributor.

It’s a complicated dance, but BevNET Live is showing off some new steps, showing that Direct Store Distribution can come in many forms – from those Anheuser Busch distributors looking to build an NA portfolio to a small house focused on specialty products and building markets. With the panel “Is There More Than One Route for DSD?” the audience and panel will have a chance to explore the right model for getting products into stores.

The panel will be held on Tuesday during BevNET Live’s Winter 2010 event, which takes place at the Loew’s Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif. Panelists include veteran distributor Tom Lebon, the co-owner of New Age Beverage Co. in Denver, Colo.; Nat Noone, the owner of Green Shoots Distributing, a bi-coastal specialty DSD operation that focuses on select brands in key cities; Jason Mussetter, the general manager of Mussetter Distributing, which is building a “total beverage” portfolio based around non-alcoholic and craft brands; Scott Wilkie, the Non-Alcoholic brand manager with Atlanta Beverage, an AB-InBev house looking to grow its NA portfolio, and Jeremy Bibeau, sales manager for NA and 3.2 % beer at Thorpe Distributing, a Minnesota AB-InBev distributor that sells more than 3 million cases of beer, soda and water annually.