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Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Appoints Three New Senior Executives

Southern Glazer's

Miami, Florida-based Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, a distributor of beverage alcohol has appointed John Wittig as chief commercial officer, Gene Sullivan as chief sales and marketing officer and David Chaplin as chief growth officer, effective Jan. 1. In their new roles, Wittig and Sullivan will report to Southern Glazer’s COO Brad Vassar. Chaplin will jointly report to Brad Vassar and CEO Wayne E. Chaplin.

Vassar said, “Over the last 15 years, Southern Glazer’s has experienced dramatic growth—especially in the last three years since the combination of Southern Wine & Spirits and Glazer’s. In these few short years, our revenue has nearly doubled, and both our geographic market coverage and the size of our employee base have significantly increased. Despite that significant growth, however, we have not made any marked changes to our corporate commercial senior leadership structure. We are now augmenting that group to further enhance our industry-leading internal capabilities and to drive a higher focus on customer and supplier execution—as well as explore future business opportunities.”

“This is the perfect time to bring increased focus and support to our commercial leadership organization, to increase sales and service excellence for our trading partners’ benefit, as well as develop new growth engines for the company,” said Vassar.

In his role as chief commercial officer, Wittig will lead the company’s geographic regions to drive internal commercial capabilities and route-to-market excellence.

“John will do this through thought leadership on commercial effectiveness and commercial transformation, tapping industry-leading approaches, processes, training and unmatched tools such as SG Proof Sales and Commerce and Price 2.0,” said Vassar. “John has proven himself a highly effective team builder and transformative leader, and I look forward to his collaboration with this already world-class commercial leadership team to take the business to the next level.”

The east, central, west, control and Canada regions will report to Wittig, and will also work on a dual reporting basis with the chief sales and marketing officer to ensure supplier and customer execution excellence. In addition, the commercial effectiveness, commercial transformation and digital enterprise teams will report directly to Wittig.

Commenting on his appointment, Wittig said, “I look forward to working with the regions, digital enterprise, commercial effectiveness and commercial transformation teams, building on their already terrific accomplishments. Moving forward, we have a unique opportunity to leverage our enhanced sales tools in conjunction with our high-performing commercial sales and marketing teams which will lead to unparalleled supplier execution.”

Wittig currently holds the role of chief transformation officer, leading the company’s transformation team since mid-2018. Prior to that, Wittig served as Southern Glazer’s president of east region, and EVP, GM of Florida.

The new chief sales and marketing officer role is accountable for driving a more focused level of supplier and national account sales execution.

“As the chief sales and marketing officer, Gene will lead our supplier and national account relationships for the enterprise, owning the company’s delivery against our goals and commitments to these critical trading partners,” said Vassar. “Gene is a trusted, creative, collaborative leader, with 28 years of success at Southern Glazer’s, and we are confident he will drive a higher level of execution for our customers, suppliers and the SGWS sales organization.”

All of the company’s dedicated supplier divisions, the supplier management and business development group, national accounts and the new role of VP of sales and marketing, will report to Gene Sullivan in his new role. In addition, and as noted above, the company’s east, west, central, control and Canada divisions will have dual reporting into the chief sales and marketing officer and chief commercial officer roles to ensure successful coordination for Southern Glazer’s trading partners.

“It is a great honor to take on this new and very important role with the company,” added Sullivan. “I look forward to the challenge of implementing our company’s Embed, Embrace and Execute (E3) strategy, working with our supplier partners, key customers, and the Southern Glazer’s sales and marketing organizations, to deliver industry-leading results.”

Before his current role as President of east region, Sullivan was EVP, GM of Florida, and prior to that, EVP, GM of Southern Glazer’s Coastal Wine & Spirits sales division. Sullivan began his career with the company in 1990 as a sales representative in the Orlando market. A successor to Sullivan for his east region leadership role will be announced before the year’s end.

David Chaplin will be taking on the new chief growth officer role, leading the new ventures team that has been part of Southern Glazer’s transformation team.

Vassar said, “As our identity statement says, we are ‘…proud to be a multi-generational, family-owned company’ and are thrilled to have David lead the identification, acquisition, building and execution of new growth engines for the company going forward. These activities are extremely critical to Southern Glazer’s long-term success.”

Wayne E. Chaplin said, “David has co-led this effort within John Wittig’s transformation team for more than a year now. The heightened focus and attention of this new role will ensure that we will continue to innovate, grow and succeed long into the future.”

The chief growth officer will report to Brad Vassar and Wayne E. Chaplin, and work closely with Wittig, Sullivan and EVP of Finance Thomas Greenlee to drive new-to-the-company growth opportunities, including strategic opportunity assessments, business case development, opportunity prioritization, screening and due diligence, deal closings and project implementation.

“I am looking forward to continuing to build upon Southern Glazer’s long history of growth and entrepreneurial spirit by executing against new venture opportunities in the marketplace,” said David Chaplin. “As a member of the next generation, our goal is to prepare and position Southern Glazer’s to compete successfully against both our existing competition as well as future, non-traditional competition that may come from outside our industry.”

Currently, Chaplin serves as VP of business development on the transformation team—working integrally with John Wittig. Chaplin originally joined Southern Wine & Spirits in 2015 as a commercial strategy manager, where he was responsible for managing corporate supplier strategy for the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Patron portfolios. He then moved into the role of VP of supplier and business development.

“The key to high-performing teams is the ability to collaborate, identify opportunities and take action,” said Wayne E. Chaplin. “We are extremely fortunate to have a dynamic, creative, and driven corporate leadership team, and I am not just referring to the three appointments we made today. In addition, we also have world-class leadership in commercial operations, national accounts, supply chain, HR, finance, legal and IT. Together, these leaders will help us to deliver on our vision: ‘To be the distributor of choice for our customers and suppliers through a diverse team of empowered industry leaders, while giving back to the communities we serve.’”

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