Photo Credit: Cierra Pedro–CierraPedro.com

On July 31, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Nevada successfully closed its acquisition of franchise distribution rights from storied Southern Nevada distributor Bonanza Beverage. This landmark deal adds a whopping nine new suppliers to SGWS’s network in Southern Nevada, with a central focus on the beer and non-alcoholic categories. The wave of iconic brands now available to area retailers looks to add substantial depth to an already broad range of hot items like hard seltzers and IPAs. 

In a statement detailing the acquisition, the company said, “Southern Glazer’s is pleased to announce it has completed the acquisition of franchise distribution rights from Bonanza Beverage for the brands: Boston Beer Company, housing brands such as Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard Hard Cider and Truly Spiked Seltzer; Lagunitas Brewing Company; Phusion Projects, famous for its Four Loko brand; Deschutes Brewery; Stone Brewing Co.; Sapporo USA; Diageo Beer Company, with distribution rights for Smirnoff Ice; AQUAhydrate Electrolyte Enhanced Water; and Olympia Brewing Company, with distribution rights for a brand under the Pabst umbrella.”

“These new brands will definitely complement our existing portfolio,” added Keith Gass, Senior Vice President of the Beer and Nonalcoholic Division at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Nevada. “They will allow our retailers a much broader range of items to choose from. It makes us a one-stop shop across so many different categories. We definitely want to give credit to the incredible brands that have been part of our portfolio from the beginning, and these new additions are only going to have a positive impact across the board.”

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada is a unique market, in that it is one of only two states in the Company’s North American network that sells beer, and is the largest beer distributor for SGWS in the U.S. The Bonanza acquisition is a critical piece in an ever-evolving puzzle of distribution rights across the state of Nevada. SGWS has rights to many of these brands in Northern Nevada, where the Reno/Sparks branch demonstrated the true value-add of incorporating these labels into the portfolio across the state. This deal now completes the loop, whereby SGWS can give its Southern Nevada retailers the broader range of options that their northern counterparts have enjoyed.

“[Boston Brewing Company] is a new supplier for us even though they merged with Dogfish Head two years ago. We’ve carried Dogfish Head, but what this does for us is allows us to carry all these brands for the entire state,” Gass said. “This acquisition completes the entire Boston Beer portfolio for Southern Nevada.”

Gass noted that the new additions to his division’s portfolio present revenue potential across their retail clientele. High-volume sales and large quantities of shelf space make for a great combination of getting in front of consumers, encouraging them to buy and to buy often [and drink responsively, of course]. 

“Angry Orchard is the number one cider in the country. Lagunitas is the number one IPA, one we would’ve liked to have for a while. Then we have Truly, one of the hottest seltzers in the country. Phusion Projects has very dominant convenience store brands,” Gass said. 

Gass himself is a lifelong beverage aficionado, and some could say that beer is in his blood [even when he’s not drinking it]. St. Louis-born, Gass achieved ‘the dream of anyone who grew up in St. Louis in the 70s and 80s’ and took a job with Anheuser-Busch, where he started on the distribution side and worked his way through the ranks over 25 years, holding various senior roles in posts across the country. He joined SGWS in 2015, where he’s now responsible for sales and revenue of the beer and nonalcoholic categories across the state of Nevada. 

“We’re a very unique market in that we’re only one of two states in the SGWS Network that sells beer. We’re by far the largest beer distributor for SGWS in the country,” Gass said. 

Even with ‘wine and spirits’ specifically called out in the company name, however, beer and nonalcoholic beverages fill a strategic niche in Southern Nevada and help fuel the company’s long-term growth in the region.

Gass explained: “Having a beer division gets us into a lot of accounts that a lot of wine and spirit distributors typically can’t get into. We go to every 7-11 in Nevada because we sell beer. But we can also work with them to sell wine. You normally wouldn’t make a lot of money going into those stores, but if we have a truck going there anyway, it’s great.”

Acquiring distribution rights from Bonanza strengthens this play substantially, allowing SGWS to maximize its ability to generate value from retail clients that aren’t otherwise profitable for a standard wine and spirits distributor. It’s a win-win situation that benefits the retailer as well, allowing them a greater variety of products to choose from.

“This allows for a one-stop shop for our retailers when they’re working with brands to display, to put into the cooler and to advertise.” Gass said. 

Many of these new products enhance SGWS’s positioning to stay on the cutting edge of consumer trends. Adding Truly to the company’s hard seltzer portfolio is a prime example.

“Being a beer guy for 30 years, I think seltzers are here to stay,” Gass said. “We’ve been so thankful to have Corona Hard Seltzer, and now adding Truly gives our retailers another incredible option for such a hot category.”

Gass is also bullish on the continued trend of ‘low-cal, low-carb’ alcoholic beverages, and sees Bonanza’s portfolio as a valuable asset to bolster SGWS as a leader across this movement. 

Bonanza Beverage is adding to SGWS’s growth beyond its product portfolio while the company is also leasing the Bonanza warehouse. In addition, Owner Bill Gialketsis Jr. is joining the Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Nevada executive team as Executive Vice President, Beer Division.

“Bill brings many years of experience over to SGWS through his relationships that he’s made over the years with key retailers in the Las Vegas market. He will help drive SGWS’s beer business to the next level,” Gass said. He noted that Bill would be working alongside him in the beer and nonalcoholic division, and that SGWS is still going through the process of interviewing Bonanza employees and seeing who else would be joining the team. 

Bonanza Beverage was founded more than 60 years ago and prides itself in its reputation for quality products and world-class customer service. Their turnkey service includes a full-service staff of drivers, warehouse personnel, sales representatives, merchandisers, an in-house signs department, a draft department, quality control, office staff, managers and maintenance teams.

Gass did note that SGWS will not be taking on all of Bonanza’s products. Some of their brands, such as La Croix, however large their reach may be, ‘aren’t necessarily a good fit for SGWS’s operations and business model,’ going to accounts they wouldn’t otherwise be able to generate value for. At the end of the day, however, Gass was confident in saying that SGWS “pretty much got everything we wanted.”

While the two companies coexisted for decades, the motivation for this deal came about only a few years ago, when SGWS completed another acquisition in Northern Nevada. It turned out to be the catalyst that inspired them to replicate that success in the southern half of the state.

“The first spark on this was after we completed the acquisition of Crown Beverage up in Reno in 2017. That was when these discussions started about bringing Smirnoff Ice to us, Deschutes, Stone and all these suppliers because of the success we were having up in the north,” Gass said. 

“We asked what it would take to get these brands down in the south? We started piecing together how we could get each of these suppliers. But then we took a step back and realized it would make things much easier if we bought the whole business.”

Contact your Southern Glazer’s wine and Spirits of Nevada representative for more information on when these additional options will be available.