Tom Shay is a lifelong small-business owner and manager, and the fourth generation to be involved in the family business. He has authored 12 books on small-business management, a college textbook on small business financial management, and co-authored a book on retailer/vendor relations. Tom has also written over 400 articles that have appeared in over 70 international trade magazines, earning him nomination for the Jesse H. Neal award for editorial excellence. He writes and speaks on financial understanding, business strategy, marketing and staff education.
Stephen Bebis has more than 30 years of retail management experience. He has served as President and CEO of Liquor Stores NA since 2013. Prior to that, he was President and CEO of Golf Town GP Inc. and GPC, a company he founded in 1998. He was previously CEO of Brookstone Company, VP and General Merchandise Manager of the mid-south division of Home Depot, and held various positions at Sears and Grossman’s. He serves on many charitable boards in Canada and the U.S. Recently, Liquor Stores NA has expanded its U.S. footprint by acquiring and opening stores in the northeast.
Tasting Session Leaders
Jack Robertiello is a writer, consultant and expert in the world of spirits and mixology. One of the lead judges in the annual Spirits of Mexico competition, he’s also lead judge at the Spirits of the Americas competition and a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. A frequent speaker at conferences and meetings, he gives private classes and seminars on tasting spirits. He has advised distillers, importers, marketers and publicists about current spirit and wine trends and helped them craft their wares. As the former editor of Cheers magazine, he’s written about food, wine and spirits for many publications, including Beverage Dynamics.
Sommelier and author Marnie Old is one of the country’s leading wine experts, an engaging speaker known for her refreshingly direct style and incisive insights. Her humorous column on wine and spirits, Cheap Buzz, appears biweekly in the Philadelphia Daily News. Formerly the Director of Wine Studies for Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute, she continues to lead seminars for the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and for corporate clients nationwide. Her latest book is the revolutionary Wine: A Tasting Course, a fully-illustrated introduction to wine that uses the power of images to explain complex wine concepts.
Seth Weiser is the Director of Business Development at 67 Wine, an established wine and spirits retail store that has been a presence on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for over 75 years. He joined 67 Wine in 2011 as a buyer of kosher wine where he increases sales 400 percent. In February 2017, Seth launched the 67 Wine RUSH with a focus on local delivery, which has quickly become a key revenue stream and marketing tool for the business.
Lester Jones serves as the Chief Economist for the National Beer Wholesalers Association, a national trade organization that represents the interests of America’s 3,300 independent, licensed beer distributors that service every state. He has more than 20 years of experience in research, survey methodology and applied economics. He most recently served as Chief Economist at the Beer Institute, where he developed and executed significant research initiatives that helped shape America’s beer industry. He also has become a respected public speaker, offering in-depth technical, analytical and quantitative expertise.
Dick Calio has forty years of diversified business experience, with thirty five years involvement in retail automation and point of sale systems. His experience with retail automation encompasses pre- assessment of system needs, development of implementation plans, and utilization strategies for maximizing system capabilities. He has participated in the installation, support and training of over 350 retail point of sale systems. His current focus is providing consulting services to independent retailers for retail automation systems, e- commerce, customer loyalty programs and inventory and financial management.
Samantha Scott, APR is the President of Pushing the Envelope, Inc., a marketing communication firm established in 2006. With expertise in marketing strategy, performance measurement and enhancement, and digital media, she’s worked with brands such as Harley-Davidson, West Marine and California Closets. She’s accredited in public relations, has been published numerous times and is a national-level speaker. From producing flagship store grand openings for international brands to advanced digital marketing tactics and garnering media placements in The New York Times, USA Today online, UK Daily, and more, she brings her experience as a marketing leader to every presentation she gives.
Hannah Becker is an associate attorney with GrayRobinson P.A.’s Alcohol Beverage Industry Team. Hannah’s practice concentrates on advising companies and entrepreneurs in heavily-regulated industries with regard to compliance with federal, state, and local statutes and regulations that govern the manufacturing, distribution, marketing, sale, and consumption of alcohol beverages and other regulated products. She counsels members from all tiers of America’s three-tier system of alcohol distribution concerning licensing, business and trade practice issues. Prior to joining GrayRobinson, Hannah served as a legal intern for the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America and a legal analyst for Ultra Music Festival.
Marina Velez is a business professional with over 15 years of market research experience, which has provided her with the opportunity to work with some of the world’s largest companies and iconic brands across a range of industries, including pharmaceutical, package goods, retail and financial services and, most recently, the beverage industry. Her background includes advertising and market research knowledge in advertising copy-testing, brand equity tracking, custom ad-hoc studies and syndicated research.
Jerome Janicki is Operations VP and COO for NABCA. His responsibilities include overseeing the Association’s MIS department, product database group, data and report production and distribution functions, and the Association’s involvement in the alcohol beverage industry’s electronic commerce initiative. Prior to joining NABCA in 1996, he worked for AT&T for 16 years, then founded and managed a software and technology consulting company for 10 years. Mr. Janicki began doing consulting work for the NABCA in 1988 and advised the Association in technological matters until becoming a full-time employee.
Nicolas Guillant is President of Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits. His responsibilities include executing the global direction and vision for the company. An industry veteran with more than 20 years’ experience in both U.S. and international markets, Guillant notably applies innovation, motivational leadership skills, and strategic analysis to drive his companies’ success. Previously, Guillant was General Manager, and a member of the Board of Directors, of William Grant & Sons Nordic (Stockholm, Sweden), which comprised six domestic and duty free markets.
John Meisler was raised in the sights, sounds and smells of the culinary world in New Orleans. He is a leader in using the wonderful flavors in spirits, wines and beers as base ingredients and accent spices in preparing wonderful epicurean delights, with focus on Puerto Rican Rums adding a wonderful Caribbean twist to some old family New Orleans’ recipes. He serves as Central Division Sales Manager, Director, Corporate Training and Spirits Education, Executive Chef and Global Brand Ambassador for Serralles USA.
Elizabeth Glagowski is Editor-in-Chief of the Customer Strategist journal, covering customer experience issues with a C-level focus. She also serves as the Executive Strategy Editor at TeleTech, developing thought leadership content and expertise relating to customer experience, journey mapping, digital strategies, and customer engagement.
Matthew Rosen oversees WineFetch’s sales and marketing efforts. He is also the resident digital marketing guru, frequently lending his voice to WineFetch stores looking to jumpstart their online businesses. His work has been profiled by The New York Times, CBS News, and various digital marketing publications.
Hermen Key was most recently Vice President and lead wine buyer for Spec’s Wines and Spirits in Texas. During his 24-year career in the adult beverage industry, he also worked for Glazer’s in Houston in the Gallo division. He holds a CSW and CSS from the Society of Wine Educators, and a CBS from the Cicerone Certification program. He has traveled to and studied the wine growing regions of Argentina, California, Chile, France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Oregon, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Texas.
In his 34 years of experience, Michael Yurch’s global wine industry achievements include 22 years as president of the renowned retail firm Sherry-Lehmann. His comprehensive expertise includes retail product development, pricing, distribution strategies as well as marketing and publicity. He currently lectures on wine marketing at Sonoma State University American’s leading institution on the business of wine. In 2013, Michael stepped down as president of Sherry-Lehmann to form The Bluest Sky Group, a consultancy that partners with wineries from around the world to optimize every facet of their business for the highly competitive American marketplace.
Making fine adult beverages is a family tradition for FEW Spirits founder and distiller Paul Hletko. His grandfather owned a brewery in the Czech Republic that was lost during the Nazi invasion. Following his death, Hletko decided to start a distillery, which resulted in FEW Spirits in 2011. Prior to his career as a distiller, Hletko earned a degree in engineering from the University of Michigan, and tried his hand at being an attorney, rock-n-roll musician and record label owner. He is currently the president of the American Craft Spirits Association, a non-profit trade group advocating for craft spirits producers.
Antony Moss, DipWSET, MW, is Director of Strategic Planning for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), where he has worked since 2004. He covers long-term business planning and advising on new product development. He oversaw the development of WSET Levels 1 and 3 Awards in Sake, and in 2014 was inaugurated as a Sake Samurai by the Sake and Shochu Makers Association in recognition of this work. Previously, he was responsible for WSET’s textbooks and all other education materials, and was the author of “Wines and Spirits: Looking Behind the Label.”
Bart Watson is the Chief Economist at the Brewers Association. Prior to his current position with the BA, he was a Lecturer at the University of California Berkeley, a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, and an Associate at The Barthwell Group, a management consulting firm. His academic research focused primarily on the political and economic effects of increasing market consolidation in distribution channels. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley.
Aimee Cronin is a seasoned marketer who has worked in nearly every facet of the beverage industry. Prior to joining Drync, her wine career started at a boutique winery in Long Island, followed by brand management and sales for Pernod Ricard, Moet Hennessy and New England’s largest distributor, Martignetti Companies. At Drync, Aimee has developed sales and marketing strategies for large and small retailers across the country to launch their own mobile presence, leveraging Drync’s mobile commerce and marketing platform, to drive loyalty, engagement and sales.
David Puck is the Program Director for the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA). David has 14 years of hospitality industry experience, including several years of bar management and nine years of experience at the MLBA. David works to help facilitate the hospitality education programs at the MLBA, and serves as an instructor for Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) , TAM Food Safety Manager Course, and Michigan Liquor Law Enforcement training.
Scott T. Ellis is the Executive Director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA). Ellis is a nationally-known speaker on highway safety, alcohol laws and the hospitality industry. He has worked tirelessly with government leaders at the federal, state and local levels to promote positive change and a fair attitude toward the licensed beverage industry since becoming MLBA Executive Director in December 2011.