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Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association elects new leadership at annual meeting

Wednesday, August 11, 2021 12:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Newly elected chair, vice-chair and finance chair hail from distributors in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Flint

LANSING — The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) today announced the election of new executive officers to guide the association over the next year. The election was held during the association’s recent annual convention.

Jim Warbritton, president of Rave Associates in Ann Arbor, was elected chair of the MB&WWA Board of Directors. He succeeds Brien Fox, president of Henry A. Fox Sales, who served two terms as chair. A.J. Mathews, president of West Side Beer in Grand Rapids, was elected vice-chair. Joanie O’Sullivan-Butler, president and CEO of John P. O’Sullivan Distributing in Flint, was elected finance chair. O’Sullivan-Butler becomes the second woman to hold an executive leadership position within the association.

“I want to thank Brien Fox for his work in steering our association through a global health pandemic and the challenges that came with it, and I look forward to picking up where he has left off in ensuring Michigan continues to have vibrant and successful beer and wine industries,” Warbritton said.

Rave Associates is a family-owned beer and wine distributor in Ann Arbor. The distributor services retailers throughout eight counties in Southeast Michigan. Rave Associates, the first and largest distributor of Bell’s Brewery beer and the largest distributor of Michigan craft beer in the state, distributes both beer and wine from suppliers across Michigan and around the world.

“Our association and its members, nearly 50 distributors strong, are proud to play a role in the continued growth of our state’s beer and wine industries and look forward to continuing that growth for years to come,” Mathews said.

West Side Beer serves more than 3,300 retailers in 15 counties out of its warehouses in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Romulus.

“It’s an honor to be elected by my peers to serve as finance chair of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association Board of Directors, and I am proud to be the second woman to hold an executive leadership position within the association,” O’Sullivan-Butler said.

O’Sullivan-Butler also serves on the association’s Women’s Advocacy Committee, which was created last year to highlight and amplify the important work women do for Michigan’s beer and wine distributors and to advocate for distributor interests in Lansing.

In 2018, O’Sullivan-Butler penned an op-ed for the Detroit News on the critical roles women play at beer distributors throughout the state and across the country.

Michigan’s beer industry had an overall economic impact of $9.9 billion in 2020 and supported more than 66,000 jobs at breweries, distributors, retailers and more, as detailed in a report released earlier this summer by the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute.

The MB&WWA represents nearly 50 beer and wine distributors throughout Michigan. The association is recognized as one of the strongest business trade associations in the state and one of the alcohol beverage industry’s most progressive state trade associations.

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