Visit to Western Carriers Warehouse in NJ

For those who aren't aware of it, Western Carriers is the dominant warehousing and logistics company in the US beverage alcohol business. They have two huge warehouses (actually a complex in NJ) and handle just about every supplier and brand wine and spirit sold in the U.S. Western was one of the sponsors of the U.S. Drinks Conference 2008 in London. I had the pleasure of getting a tour of the facility in NJ from Mike Hodes who joined us in London and runs the Western operation along with Marc Cohen.

A couple of observations of note:
-People: It's what makes the difference here. I know, we've all heard that a lot but MBWA (Management by Walking Around) is the defining management strategy and I bet we saw about 200 people during the tour and Mike knew everyone by first name, and had a personal comment for each and every one.
-Scale: Western is huge, with something like 8 warehouses in NJ and a big operation in CA as well. Pretty much every distributor in the U.S. is getting deliveries from Western at least once a week and many once a day.
-Business scope: They not only handle receiving and distribution of imported goods coming into the country but also have divisions that deliver to retail accounts throughout the metro NY area. Standing in the control room for that operation was like being in Minority Report...super high tech.
-Wine Collections: A big part of the biz is with the auction houses...much of what gets auctioned through Christy's and Sotheby's passes through Western's careful quality control.

So, a big thank you to Mike, Marc, Joel Rubins and Joe Pollack for taking the time to show me around, and also for sponsoring the USDC.

1 comment:

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