Brad Vassar, a 23-year employee of Southern and 30-year industry veteran, is Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.
At the time of Vassar’s appointment in May 2014, Southern’s President & Chief Executive Officer Wayne E. Chaplin said, “Brad’s more than 20 years at Southern and his successful decade as our corporate Executive Vice President, General Manager make his new position a logical evolution for Brad and the company. On behalf of my dad, the Executive Leadership Team and the entire Southern Family, I congratulate and thank Brad on accepting this key role.”
A California native and a graduate of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, Vassar’s first job in the wine and spirits distribution business was with Berberian Bros., a wholesaler then based in the state’s Central Valley. In 1984, Vassar started as a wine salesman working the tough Modesto market, where he ruefully noted he wasn’t lucky enough to represent the brands of that “little” wine company based there—known to everyone as E. & J. Gallo Winery. It was quite an education, he says of his seven years at the distributor.
In 1991, Vassar joined Southern Wine & Spirits of California as a District Manager for the Central Valley and was promoted two years later when he took responsibility for calling on top chain accounts in the Sacramento market. Later, Vassar took over as Branch Manager for Sacramento Valley market for a two-year period.
In 1997, Vassar was appointed General Manager following Jim Allen’s move to Hawaii as General Manager. Commenting on his work in California, Vassar is particularly proud “of the dynamic growth rate and my contribution to developing a strong California management team during my tenure in the market.”
On Vassar’s current role, Harvey R. Chaplin, Chairman said: “We are delighted that Brad took on the COO responsibilities in 2014. His long tenure with our company and proactive style has positioned him well to be among the great leaders of not only our company, but also our industry. His dedicated work ethic and passionate commitment to serving our suppliers and customers alike is something that all of us at Southern admire and are proud of.”
During his 23-year tenure at Southern, Vassar has achieved great accomplishments on multiple fronts. He led efforts to develop key strategies and core capabilities for Southern’s National Accounts, Inside Sales and Category Management teams. He played a central role in supplier portfolio expansion and alignment across Southern’s entire footprint. He also recruited industry-seasoned and market-savvy executive talent to further strengthen Southern’s corporate executive team. Last and perhaps most importantly, Vassar has taken the helm in providing divisional strategy and coaching to the GM executives. All of these efforts resulted in greater market share and growth for both Southern, its brands and customers.
Commenting on his career at Southern, Vassar added, “Southern is one of those unique companies that delivers on the promise of being a great place to work while also achieving great commercial success. It is not by accident both Harvey and his original partners established this culture; and Wayne and the entire management team of the company carry it forward today and into the future. We believe that our people are our greatest asset, and the development and care of our people is the key to our success.”