Making Friends Is Our Business

A message from the CEO of Pepin Distributing Company, Tom Pepin

Although tense, there was a silver lining to this year’s legislative session. Unbelievably, I did not meet Josh Aubuchon until 2 days before the end of the session and had only talked to Joey Redner once or twice before the last week. During the last week we forged a relationship built on trust, mutual respect and common goals. I am certain that if we had all met earlier, things would have been resolved by now. We are all going to do what’s good for the industry.

The following is a summary of what I feel are the common understandings that I have had with Joe Redner, Josh Aubuchon and other industry members.

Over the last month, there has been a lot of misinformation floating around. I believe they will tell you that Pepin is not the adversary. That they are true friends of craft. It is evident that they are very passionate about the craft industry and all the tiers that make up our entire industry in Florida and are honestly working toward a common solution.

Most industries have a specific regulatory system that prevents unfair competition and protects the consuming public. So all laws are not bad. I believe we agree that there needs to be a framework that protects all stakeholders in this industry brewers, distributors, retailers and consumers. I believe we are all looking for the same things. A healthy fair evolving three tier system. And we all want to get back to brewing and enjoying beer.

As the session came to an end and at the request of Representative Dana Young, industry members committed to continue to work on building the framework of a brewer vendor license that is good public policy. We have come so far. We just need to put the roof on the house. It just takes more time that the legislature had. Justin Clarke suggested that a new industry association be formed to address the desires of all stakeholders. That process has begun.

We are not enemies, we are business partners. We need to strive for mutual success. It is critical that the distribution network work as partners with the brewers to bring the wide variety of products to beer lovers. One only has to look at the variety of craft offerings on the supermarket shelves or the significant increase in tap handles in restaurants and bars to realize the value of the existing distribution network. In the same respect distributors and retailers appreciate the excitement and diversity that craft brewers have brought to the category. We whole-heartedly support the growth of independent craft breweries.
It’s time to drop our megaphones and pick up our hydrometers and get back to enjoying the art of brewing and marketing beer

Tom Pepin
CEO of Pepin Distributing Company

More on this topic:
“Tom Pepin and Joey Redner work on beer deal away from Tallahassee” by Chris Wilkerson of Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Tom Pepin and Joey Redner