Brad Vassar, a 20-year employee of Southern and 26-year industry veteran, has been Executive Vice President, General Manager for Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. since January 1, 2005.
At the time of Mr. Vassar’s appointment, Southern’s President & Chief Operating Officer Wayne E. Chaplin said: “At Southern, we have always worked, to promote from within our ranks. Consequently, I am especially pleased to name Brad Vassar—the leader of our Southern California Division—to this position, where he will serve as an integral part of our national leadership executive team.” Brad previously held the position of Vice President-General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of California’s Southern California Division. There, Mr. Vassar was accountable for one of the largest markets in the Southern Wine & Spirits footprint.
A California native and a graduate of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, Mr. Vassar’s first job in the wine and spirits distribution business was with Berberian Bros.—a wholesaler then based in the state’s Central Valley that was later acquired by another, larger distributor.
Mr. Vassar started as a wine salesman in 1984 working the tough Modesto market, where he ruefully notes he wasn’t lucky enough to represent the brands of that “little” wine company based there, known to everyone as E. & J. Gallo Winery. It was quite an education, he says. All told, Mr. Vassar worked a total of seven years at the distributor.
In 1991, Mr. Vassar joined Southern Wine & Spirits of California as a District Manager for the Central Valley and was promoted two years later, when he took responsibility for calling on top chain accounts in the Sacramento market. Later, Mr. Vassar took over as Branch Manager for Sacramento Valley market for a two-year period.
Then, as Mr. Vassar puts it, “When Jim Allen went to Hawaii as General Manager, I was appointed General Manager for Southern California in January 1997.” Of his service in Southern California prior to his arrival in the Company’s Miami headquarters, Mr. Vassar is particularly proud “of the dynamic growth rate as well as my contribution to helping develop a strong California management team during my tenure there.”
About Mr. Vassar’s tenure in his current role, Harvey R. Chaplin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., said: “We are delighted that Brad took on these new responsibilities in our corporate headquarters in 2005. His long tenure with our Company and proactive style has positioned him well to be among the great leaders of not only our company, but also our industry. His dedicated work ethic and passionate commitment to serving our suppliers and customers alike is something that all of us at Southern admire and are proud of.”
During his six-plus-year tenure in his current role, Mr. Vassar has achieved great things on multiple fronts. He has led efforts for developing key strategies and building core capabilities for Southern’s National Accounts, Inside Sales and Category Management teams. His has also played a central role in supplier portfolio expansion and alignment across Southern’s entire footprint. He has also recruited in industry-seasoned and market-savvy executive talent to further strengthen Southern’s corporate executive team. Last and perhaps most importantly, Mr. Vassar has taken the “helm” in providing divisional strategy and coaching to his GM colleagues. The results have been greater market share and growth for Southern, its brands and its customers—helping the company operate as fully-national, approach $10 billion company.
Noting his specific responsibilities, Wayne Chaplin added, “Brad’s new position has all of our State General Managers reporting directly to him, as well as Southern’s Marketing, National Accounts, Category Management, Strategic Supplier Relations, Strategic Programs and Inside Sales groups. Brad also works closely alongside Mel Dick, our Senior Vice President and President of our Wine Division; Rudy Ruiz, our Executive Vice President-Spirits; and Lee Hager, our Executive Vice President-Chief Administrative Officer. Together, these individuals form the core of our senior executive team.”
Commenting on his career at Southern, Brad Vassar added, “Southern is one of those unique companies that delivers on the double promise of being a great place to work while also achieving great commercial success. It is not by accident both Harvey and his original partners established this culture; and Wayne and the entire management team of the company carry it forward today and into the future. We believe that our people are our greatest asset, and the development and care of our people is the key to our success.”