Are You Annoying Your Distributor Right Now?

It’s been a tough winter for distributors and brewery partners in determining what sort and the amount of package to send out along with draft.

Paul Halayko of Newburgh Brewing cautioned breweries to just hold tight and be in communication with partners. He shared his experience with his main distributor during a discussion on working with the three-tier system at the 2020 Sell More Beer Conference, which was held virtually late last fall. Producing a little more than 4,000 barrels a year, the New York brewery COO knows they aren’t a high priority for a company that sells Coors Light and White Claw.

​”It’s certainly never been more important to have a good relationship with your wholesaler,” he said. “Be on good terms with them and have a constant line of communication. You certainly don’t want them to forget about you right now.”

Initially,​ at the start of the pandemic, Newburgh’s wholesaler​ scaled back everything to work through the existing inventory that they had.

​”Then they came to us and said​,​ ‘These are the SKUs of your portfolio that we want to focus on. We do not want anything else​​’, which was certainly a change for us because we were very much used to giving all of our one-offs, specialties, ​and seasonals to our wholesaler​,” Halayko said.

Instead, core packaging was the focus and just one SKU for draft and that was how Newburgh began planning its sales for 2020.

And sales from other wholesalers farther away went way down as well.

“With them, we’ve taken a very hands-off approach because we don’t want to be pushy​,” ​Halayko​ said. ​”We’ve ​just ​said when you guys are ready for product, we’re here​. Just let us know. ​We don’t want to be calling every week and emailing saying​, ​’Hey guys​! Want product​?​

“They know we’re around, they know we’re still in business. They know we’re brewing beer​. When they are ready for product, we know they will come to us. So if you have some of those similar relationships with wholesalers that you’re not selling a lot of beer though​, I would recommend, don’t be pushy, but just check in with them every so often. ​Remind them not to forget about us. When you’re ready. We want to send you a beer.​”​

Photo courtesy Weldwerks Brewing

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