A Brief History of Southern Wine & Spirits of California
Founded in 1969, Southern Wine & Spirits of California is today far and away the Golden State's single largest wine and spirits distributor. In fact, according to a recent survey in Impact Newsletter, a publication of M. Shanken Communications, Southern Wine & Spirits of California will lead all the state's wine and spirits distributors in estimated total alcoholic-beverage sales in 2006; this No.-1 ranking also makes the California operation the single largest state entity in the 32-state network that comprises Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.
Since its founding in 1968, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc. (Southern), is the leading nationally recognized wine and spirits distributor in the United States known for its historic commitment to delivering the highest standards of customer service, creative marketing programs and partnerships. The Company is also known for its best-in-industry professional and well-trained sales, operational and support staff, its ongoing investments in and contributions to hospitality and beverage education for its staff, its customers and to many national educational institutions. In addition, Southern is justly respected for its deeply held belief in the importance of giving back, for being a socially responsible corporate citizen and for making generous contributions to national, state and local charitable organizations.
With approximately 2,500 employees now working statewide, Southern Wine & Spirits of California is able to deploy a comprehensive distribution network comprised of various executive, warehouse, transportation and training facilities. Taken together, these facilities are geared to providing excellence in customer service for on- and off-premise accounts as well as for brand owners and suppliers. With a state-of-the-art operation, Southern Wine & Spirits of California offers next-day delivery to the majority of the state's chain and independent retail, restaurant and hotel accounts. In fact, in a typical week, Southern Wine & Spirit of California's sales, marketing, promotional and delivery personnel service call on approximately 50,000 individual on- and off-premise accounts up and down the state.
Southern Wine & Spirits of California occupies a dominant position in the highly competitive California market. The company also distributes other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including bottled imported and domestic waters, domestic and imported beers and a variety of other beverage products. To handle this growing portfolio of brands, following the establishment of the company in 1969, Southern Wine & Spirits of California formed its American Wine & Spirits division in 1990 and then, in 1999, established its Transpacific Wine & Spirits division.
Led by Jack Brennan, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Southern Wine & Spirits of California is recognized for its unrivaled product selection, outstanding customer service and in-depth market coverage for the state's thousands of on- and off-premise chain and independent accounts.
In 1969, shortly after Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. acquired a small, struggling Southern Californian distributorship, Harvey R. Chaplin, current parent company Chairman and CEO of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., was asked by senior company executives from Miami to temporarily relocate to California, where he began reorganizing the fledgling operation. Mr. Chaplin recalls that after renaming the distributorship Southern Wine & Spirits of California, (it had been called the Landfield Co.), he had to work extremely hard to mend fences with then-existing suppliers and put in place a new management and sales team in order to position the operation for rapid expansion. After overcoming those initial series of challenges, the company then entered a period of steady growth in the Southern California market, year-by-year.
In 1983, Mr. Chaplin and other senior Southern Wine & Spirits of America executives began to execute the company's newly revised and expanded growth plan, one that involved a bold strategy of establishing a statewide distribution capability. Indeed, Southern Wine & Spirits of California established a beachhead in Northern California with its acquisition of a small distributor called Grape Empire. Renamed Southern Wine & Spirits of Northern California, the new division won over both large and small suppliers the company had already represented in Southern California and offered them (as well as prospective brand owners) a potent statewide sales, marketing and distribution presence.
It was an extremely bold initiative, and it involved significant investments in human and financial resources, says Mr. Chaplin. To ensure success and attract new business, the entire statewide division was staffed at numbers that far exceeded what then-current sales levels could ever justify.
Nevertheless, in the mid-1980s, the timing turned out to be perfect for pursuing such an ambitious statewide strategy. In fact, massive consolidations at the retail level triggered a related wave of consolidations at both the distributor and supplier tiers in California and, of course, across the entire United States.
Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.'s statewide distribution venture in California succeeded beyond anyone's expectations at the time. Indeed, it was not long before Southern Wine & Spirits of California assumed the leadership position it proudly holds today in the state. Today, after multiple retail and distributor consolidations across the state, it is Southern Wine & Spirits of California's belief that it would have been difficult to survive and thrive as a successful wine and spirits distributor without offering Mexico-to-Oregon coverage to the state's multitude of different accounts - chain and independent, dozens of different urban and rural clients, on- and off-premise establishments, and much more. Today, Southern Wine & Spirits of California provides unmatched levels of service to individual accounts, brands and suppliers across the state.
It's the first California distributor to achieve statewide distribution capability; the first to reorganize its sales divisions aimed at specific sales channels, including on- and off-premise accounts, chain and independent retailers and restaurateurs and national accounts; and the first California distributor to successfully deploy sales force automation in order to enhance the level of cus