Saturday, March 18, 2006

Number Four in Number Two

Ponte Vedra, Florida

In the sleepy village of Ponte Vedra Beach ("Golf Mecca"), a once tiny liquor sales organization has rapidly gained strength and products to become the fourth largest spirit portfolio in Florida, which by volume is the second largest spirit market in the country. With it’s humble beginnings as a manufacturers representative for Happy Vodka (, Liquor Group ( now has operations in 21 US States, several Canadian provinces and a few international markets, with facilities and staff prepped and ready to move quantities of the 400+ products they now represent through their various distribution channels. Liquor Group has also formed strategic alliances with companies such as Exel Transportation ( and FedEx ( to manage the explosive growth and logistics concerns.

It is hard to argue with their methodology; growth of more than 1000% last quarter, sales increases upwards of 800% per year and cost per unit decreases of 15% on average are performance numbers not seen since the dot-com boom. Fueling the growth is a team of dedicated individuals who believe that alcohol beverage products should be represented and sold in a consistent, honest, vendor friendly open cards manner rather than through the ‘used car’ methods of subversive tactics, complicated discounts and chain friendly pricing schemes.

"We TRULY consider the vendors that sell our products when we set up our pricing, always allowing our customers a minimum of 30% markup to national average retail price, something no other distributor offers..." says Gray C. Solomon, Managing Member of Liquor Group, the parent company of the operation. Straight forward pricing, no minimum orders, no discounts and only modest "cost of shipping" adjustments for large single point delivery customers makes Liquor Group products friendly to independent vendors, which generally make up the majority of Liquor Store and Restaurant licenses in the market.

Product selection also plays an important role, and again Liquor Group has made smart choices for their portfolio. Some of the finest products available in the alcohol market such as the four and five star rated Black Maple Hill Bourbons, Signatory Scotch, winners of the 2005 Whiskey Magazine Bottler of the Year, Crater Lake Vodkas, Gins and flavored vodkas as well as bar suppliers such as Shotski’s all make for a selection that will stand up to any discerning client’s wishes. With all of these factors in play, it is no wonder Liquor Group has grown the way it has.

"All of this growth has come with a cost..." says Liquor Group Florida Sales Manager Jody Jordan "...we all work about 50 hours per week on average, with most of our sales force are moving towards 60 hours on average...

and it is only going to get worse as we continue to grow in other markets." As upper management in the company continues to search for new talent to bring into the fold, they find it is very difficult to hire quality sales representatives with the proper skill set. Liquor Group does not generally hire from the liquor industry, as it chooses to train employees from scratch rather than trying to retrain old and often bad habits out of seasoned sales representatives. Education on products and the industry is a cornerstone of Liquor Group, as each rep must learn a manual with more than 250 pages of product specific knowledge and insight. However, if a rep does not know the answer to a specific question, they are not afraid to admit it and find someone within the organization to solve the problem. This type of open door policy also makes a difference in the overall operation according to Jordan.

In a multi-billion dollar spirits industry, with astonishing growth curves, what more do you ask can Liquor Group accomplish? "Much more!" says Solomon. Future expansion plans include the buy out or phase out of non-owned broker sales organizations in several markets, the addition of several more state territories and implementation of even more aggressive strategy of growth. Who knows, maybe they will see 2000% next year?

For more information visit
or call 904-565-2633

Don't Worry…Drink Happy! TM