NC ABC Commission Chairman Resigns Over State-Wide Alcohol Supply Problems

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RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) – NC ABC Commission Chairman Zander Guy resigned on Friday.

A spokesperson confirmed Guy’s resignation in an email on Monday, but did not immediately provide further details.

A source familiar with the matter said Guy’s resignation was effective immediately.

Guy’s resignation comes as the state’s ABC commission and county ABC councils continue to grapple with supply issues that have left shelves bare at North Carolina liquor stores.

In addition to the supply chain issues triggered by the pandemic, the state put in place a new contract with its supplier, LB&B Associates, in July. As part of this contract, the company had to set up a new electronic inventory and ordering platform.

NC ABC Commission distributes alcohol to local ABC boards across the state from its two warehouses in Wake County.

WBTV has been investigating issues with the new contract and the distribution system for weeks.

Some local ABC councils have said the number of weekly mailings they receive has been drastically reduced.

Other councils, including the Mecklenburg County ABC, said their stores were not receiving expected deliveries.

“The orders were really weird and weird,” said Keva Walton, CEO of Mecklenburg County ABC.

“These drop shipments that went right to the stores, you know, some stores weren’t getting their full order, which was a problem. “

Walton said his board was able to resolve state-level supply issues with direct shipment from some manufacturers and supply stock in the county warehouse, a resource few have. other tips from ABC.

But, between execution problems and supply chain problems caused by the pandemic, Walton recognized the empty shelves of stores in the area.

Supply issues don’t just affect people’s ability to drink.

The Mecklenburg County ABC distributed $ 5 million in community alcohol education grants and over $ 14 million in benefit sharing to the city, county and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library during fiscal year 2020.

Both problems are further compounded, he said, as home consumption has remained high, although consumption in bars and restaurants has also picked up.

“I choose to believe that if it hadn’t happened during COVID, it probably wouldn’t seem as bad, or it probably wouldn’t be so bad,” Walton said. “Just because, you know, we have people as hyper consumers on both sides and so you know that has made the challenge even worse. “

The alcohol shortage has been felt in bars and restaurants, which are struggling to source some brands and in some cases have to replace cheaper well spirits with more expensive bottles.

Brittany Kellum is the bar manager at Fin and Fino. She said it takes her about three days from when she places an order to when it’s ready to be picked up and, even then, she is not guaranteed the product she ordered.

“It makes it a bit difficult to plan for a busy weekend,” she said.

Kellum said she was struggling to get a product line. The problem started at the beginning of the summer and has continued to worsen.

“Casamigos is really hard to get, it’s what everyone wants to drink when it comes to tequila,” she said.

“I mean, the vodka, of course, like Kettle One was one that I couldn’t get for weeks. Tito is every now and then. My vodka though, like I said, was really tough. to obtain.

As a result, Kellum and his fellow bartenders have to improvise or tell customers that they can’t make certain drinks.

“We’re not really saying no, you know. But if we can’t afford to do it, it slows you down, ”Kellum said.

NC ABC Commission spokesperson Jeff Strickland declined to answer questions on camera about distribution issues and insisted on receiving questions in writing, which WBTV does not provide when requesting an interview in front of the camera. Strickland emailed a statement that said, in part:

“The third-party supplier that manages warehouse and delivery services (LB&B Associates) has started a new contract effective July 1, 2021 following a multi-year bidding process. The new contract required a transition to new processes and software. The ABC Commission acknowledged that the implementation of the new contract by LB&B Associates did not meet the expectations and level of service that ABC customers deserve. While the new processes and Encompass software will provide the NC ABC system with a complete computerized warehouse management and operation platform, difficulties in implementing and adjusting to new processes have resulted in missed or delayed deliveries. . At a time when product availability and staff are already strained, this has created additional challenges for Boards of Directors and ABC stores. “

Similarly, LB&B Associates President and CEO David Van Scoyoc deflected the blame in an emailed statement in which he refused to answer questions in this story about the current distribution issues associated with the new contract.

“It is important that you understand the real impacts and how we all solved the supply chain issues and the process of implementing a new software system with a contract of this scope,” Van Scoyoc said in a E-mail.

“We have worked with the ABC Commission and local ABC councils to help alleviate the supply issues. We also encourage you to contact the leaders of several boards of directors who have complimented the way in which we have overcome these obstacles beyond our control. “

Van Scoyoc also said his business has been hit by a staff shortage due to employees having to call due to COVID-19.

Walton, ABC’s Mecklenburg County CEO, said he hopes the new electronic inventory system will lead to better and more efficient distribution in the long run.

“There is no point with the products that are left in the warehouse,” he said. “This is the product that we cannot offer our customers. Our bars cannot boost their activity and we cannot reinvest in the community, so no one wins.

This story has been updated to clarify that the ABC Commission spokesperson declined to answer questions on camera and instead asked for written questions. WBTV does not provide written questions when requesting an on-camera interview.

Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved.


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