SWS Announces Establishment of Southern Wine & Spirits University

For Immediate Release                        Contact: Wayne E. Chaplin

                                                               President and Chief Operating Officer
                                                               Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.



New Educational and Developmental Programs Intended to Enhance Skills For All Employees and Every Discipline

Andrew Harman, Vice President of Organizational Development To Lead Innovative Company-Wide Educational Initiative

MIAMI – May 8, 2008 -- Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., Miami, Florida, the Nation’s Leading Wine and Spirits Distributor and Control States Broker with a tradition of service excellence since 1968 and proud to be celebrating its 40th anniversary, today announced the establishment of Southern Wine & Spirits University (SWSU). The new curriculum and comprehensive sales, operational and management training programs now in development will formally and professionally enhance core educational and developmental priorities across the Company’s entire corporate structure.

Wayne E. Chaplin, President and Chief Operating Officer, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., said: “Since our founding, people have been our most important asset.  Employee development and talent management have always been top corporate priorities. Given the growing demands and complexity of today’s wine and spirits industry, we are proud to announce the establishment of Southern Wine & Spirits University, whose programs and professional development initiatives – incorporating our Company’s best practices and operational excellence – will be a critical tool in maintaining and enhancing our leadership position in the years to come. We are all very excited about enhancing the talents and expertise of our entire team, thereby enabling all our employees to develop their own skills and continue to add value to all our customers and supplier partners."                                     

Brad Vassar, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., said, “We have selected Andrew Harman, Vice President of Organizational Development at Southern to create, develop and implement the concept and program offerings of Southern Wine & Spirits University. During the past 18 months, Andy has visited and consulted with senior divisional executives, sales and operational staff to confirm individual market priorities and insure consistency across all markets and disciplines. Andy is currently designing classes and activities to further integrate and expand the Company’s employee training, retention and development policies and programs, which will in turn further strengthen the Company’s Corporate and Divisional Human Resources functions and capabilities.” In this role, Mr. Harman reports to Mr. Vassar and works very closely with Michael Head, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.

Mr. Vassar added, “Andy brings a wealth of industry background to this new position. His comprehensive experience at all levels of the wine and spirits industry are vital in enabling Southern Wine & Spirits of America to continue to indentify best practices and apply them throughout our organization.”

According to Michael Head, “Andy’s enthusiasm, energy and passion for the wine and spirits business are well known. We are delighted to have him lead this effort, which will help our Company continue to implement industry-leading organizational development policies and practices today and in the future.” ”Andy and I have been collaborating very closely for almost 2 years and are in complete alignment regarding SWSU’s goals, objectives, strategies, and implementation plans. All of our Talent Management and Employee Development initiatives are completely synergistic.”

Virtual Curriculum Will Be Designed to Enhance Sales Skills, Management Expertise and Operational Excellence

According to Mr. Harman, SWSU’s multi-level curriculum now being fully developed will ultimately encompass all aspects of the Company’s sales, operational and management best practices. He added “SWSU’s establishment – as well as all the individual programs now being developed – is the fruit of more than 18 months of research, inter-divisional cooperation, intensive meetings and a highly structured analysis of the Company’s and the beverage industry’s best practices. Thanks to the direction and overall support of the Company’s owners and senior management, we have already been able to create, develop and implement a number of new, consistent company-wide employee development and talent management components. And there will be much more to come.”

Mr. Harman noted that existing as well as new in-development courses and programs range from basic selling and operational fundamentals to advanced management disciplines. He explained further that once the full curriculum is fully established, SWSU will enable new and current employees, managers and senior executives to build on their existing talents and experiences. SWSU will consist of courses and materials in many areas, including Basic selling skills, Core Managerial skills, Executive Development and Human Resource Management Practices and Policies.  Mr. Harman said that in the near future much of this instructional content will be available online and will be truly “State of the Art.”

In addition, SWSU will also extend and provide current and future individualized programs to the Company’s Divisional Executive, and Corporate leaders. Mr. Harman said that these Executive Development Programs – once they are fully developed – will ultimately include program creation and delivery in partnership with some of the nation’s most prestigious educational institutions and leading Business School Executive Training Programs.

Overall, Mr. Harman said, “Southern Wine & Spirits University continues our drive to build on and further extend our already strong programs and talent development policies and practices. We are confident that SWS University will enable our Company and its Divisions to significantly add value to our already industry-leading organization and help us to better serve the ever more demanding and discriminating needs of both our on- and off-premise customers as well as our current and new supplier partners.”

About Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.

Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. is the nation’s leading wine and spirits distributor and Control States broker with a tradition of service excellence since 1968, and now celebrating its 40th anniversary, with operations in 29 states.  The Company currently operates in: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Company has a strategic partnership with Alaska Distributors Co. of Seattle, Washington, called Southern Wine/Spirits West, a joint venture that has wine and spirits brokerage operations across the Northwest Control States of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The Company is also a licensed permittee in Nebraska and Texas. On a national basis, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. employs more than 10,500 team members. For more information contact: www.southernwine.com.





Posted on Thursday, May 08, 2008 (Archive on Thursday, May 15, 2008)
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