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Business & friendship.

It has been said that one of the strengths of the beverage alcohol industry is the fact that lifelong friendships are foxed in the course of doing everyday business. Curiously, this industry has always been founded on strong personal relationships, and that bonding of business and friendship is nowhere more apparent than at each year's annual National Alcohol Beverage Control Association Conference. This year's, the 71st, was held at Marco Island, FL, in May, and the attendees--who numbered just under 1,000--seemed gratified and energized to be moving, talking and joking with others in a sea of familiar faces.

On a personal note, I've been attending the Conference for about a dozen years now, and it's equally satisfying for me to walk among those I've interviewed, photographed and worked with over the years--industry executives, control state administrators and commissioners whom I would other-wise know only as voices on the other end of a phone line--and talk, however briefly, about family, business, sports, whatever. It's this personal touch that, for me, makes the whole NABCA Conference experience something more than just a business trip, as I expect it does for most of those attending.

Still, the wealth of information presented to attendees at the various business sessions and seminars makes the Conference a lot more than just a comfortable place to meet and talk business. It's a forum where ideas are exchanged, questions asked, issues discussed, all of them focused on the beverage alcohol industry and the impact on the control states.

For example, in an enlightening presentation titled, "The Control States Go Green," we learned of a series of serious eco-friendly initiatives taking place in several control states, particularly New Hampshire and Virginia (also see "Aggressive Green Initiatives" sidebar in the Virginia Profile cover story, beginning on page 10). Mark Bodi, Chairman of the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission (NHLC), outlined a number of steps the NHLC has taken, such as requiring their delivery trucks to completely eliminate idling time; recycling 100% of their corrugated cardboard; creating energy savings through more efficient lighting and store and warehouse design; using a new paper-reducing POS system at all NHLC cash registers; eliminating unnecessary and non-eco-friendly marketing materials; and several other actions. Susan Swecker, Commissioner from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, described how a wide-ranging recycling campaign among the state's 331 retail stores and its warehouse operations has resulted in huge amounts of recycled cardboard, shrink wrap, office paper and pallets, and how it actually brought in money for the state.

In a business session focusing on "Community Safety, "James Bareuther, executive vp and coo of Brown-Forman Beverages, said, "The industry has become much more focused on the drunk driving issue.... The industry is committed to wait staff training and other educational initiatives to help alleviate the problem. It's a public health issue as well as a liability issue for the licensee."

Indeed, there were many other issues discussed at the recent NABCA Conference. To learn more, turn to page 40.

Richard Brandes, Editor-in-Chief
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Title Annotation:EDITOR'S NOTE
Author:Brandes, Richard
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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