I have been in the liquor industry for 33 years.
Seagram's (16 years), Diageo (5 years) and Southern Glazer (12 years). I was a Chain Executive for Chain Stores calling on headquarters of Beverages and More, Long Drug, Albertsons, SaveMart in Northern California.
I was ‘outed’ on an Absolut Trip 25 years ago. Seagram's put me in charge of LGBT events in San Francisco. I turned 10 events into 45 and increased sales of the time Absolut by 22% in San Francisco.
They created a specialist role for the Gay and Lesbian Market to create marketing for the LGBT market. We were charged with running that arm of the Multicultural division for the state. During the height of AIDS and various other causes rose to do 300 events a year for community outreach. HRC, DESERT AIDS PROJECT ACADEMY OF FRIENDS, SF INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, LAMBDA, ELTON JOHN OSCAR PARTY, AIDS PROJECT LOS ANGELES, DIVAS FOUNDATION, NCLR, GAY MEN'S CHOIR, LA LGBT CENTER, RED DRESS PARTY, TRANS CHOIR, TREVOR PROJECT, CAMP LIGHT BULB, to name just a few.
Seagram was sold in 2002 to two companies and I was moved to newly formed DIAGEO where we continued running the LGBT Market. I averaged about 225 events a year and continued on my marketing to the LGBT Market. SMIRNOFF and KETEL ONE, CIROC and BELVEDERE were my new vodkas.
In 2007, I was asked to move to the distributor as the LGBT specialist to sell directly to the LGBT bars and restaurants over Southern California.
I push our supplier partners DIAGEO and MOET HENNESSEY to support the community that starts trends and influences. During the day I overlay 10 sales reps over Southern California and sell and market our brands to key bars and restaurants Abbey, Micky's, Hamburger Mary's, SUR, PUMP, Motherlode Hunter's, TRUNKS, Toucan's, Urban Mo's, Gossip Grill, etc. I average 170 events in my spare time.
When we started AIDS was devastating our community. We were dealing with hate crimes (Matthew Sheppard, Barry Winchell) and we didn't have the right to marry.
We gathered as a group to make change happen. Raised money to make a change. We pay it forward to make the change. It's important to give back to the community. That's why I do what I do.
Remember the past so we are not condemned to repeat it. 25 years in the LGBT Market that has been my mission and will continue to be my mission.
My nickname is the Badger because I fight for rights relentlessly.
Kindness creates change. BE KIND. Now let's have a drink and create the dialogue for change for the next generation.