GRAND RAPIDS – Henry A. (Happy) Fox Jr., chairman of a three‐generation family owned beverage distributorship in Grand Rapids, has been awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, the national trade association for wine and spirits distributors.
Fox is the second generation to lead Henry A. Fox Sales Co., a business established in Grand Rapids in 1952 that today is one of Michigan’s leading distributors of fine wines, and premium, imported and craft beers. Fox’s son Brien is president of the company, which delivers to all 83 Michigan counties.
“I am honored and humbled to receive an award for doing something that I have loved doing since I was a teenager in the 1960s, and that’s providing quality service, delivering the best products and giving back to our community,” Fox said. “Henry A. Fox Sales Co. is a success today because of our team of men and women who work hard and put our customers and our community first every single day, for the past 60‐plus years. Our family of co‐workers takes pride in providing best‐of‐class value in the marketplace every day and as a team, we have positioned our company to succeed well into the 21st century.”
WSWA’s Wholesaler Lifetime Leadership Award is presented each year to a distributor whose contribution to the association, the community and the beverage industry defines excellence, inspires loyalty and exemplifies leadership. The award will be presented to Fox at the WSWA convention in Orlando, Fla., on April 13.
Fox began working at his family’s distributorship in 1963 while still a senior at East Grand Rapids High School. During his senior year of college, he took over the family business. He continued his studies while working and graduated in 1967 from the University of Notre Dame.
Over the next 50 years, Fox focused on growing the business with a portfolio that today represents a large variety of craft, imported and premium beers, and wines. Fox is well known for his efforts to make the alcohol industry stronger and more ethical. He established a corporate mission statement and business practice that remain well‐known and in use in the industry to this day. The company’s mission has always been to:
Give the best service;
Distribute goodness, enthusiasm and goodwill;
Sell our products.
Fox is a past president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association as well as a past WSWA chairman. He has been an active community leader supporting a variety of organizations including Rotary International, the American Cancer Society of Michigan, Mary Free Bed Hospital Bed and Rehabilitation Center, Indian Trails Camp for the physically challenged, and United Way, among others. He is also a leader for family businesses looking to ensure transition from one generation to the next. Happy’s son Brien, a 1997 graduate of Notre Dame, joined the business in 2000 and will serve as the 2015‐2016 WSWA Chairman.
WSWA is the national trade association representing the distribution tier of the wine and spirits industry. With 350 member companies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, WSWA is the voice for wholesalers in Congress, the executive branch, the courts, with the news media and in communities across America. Member firms represent more than 80 percent of the total U.S. wine and spirits market. Information about the association is available at www.wswa.org.