The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

1 year ago

Alabama beer distributors deliver vital message in Washington, D.C.


Alabama’s independent beer distributors are convening with their counterparts from every state in the nation this week at a national conference to deliver a compelling message to lawmakers. As local companies, we want members of Congress to know why their support for independent, Main Street businesses and our workers is essential.

Today, major metropolitan areas are enjoying a bustling economy, but as many Alabamians recognize, the benefits have failed to reach deeply into some rural and underserved neighborhoods. Independent beer distributors stand in contrast to this trend, a model for what’s possible for America’s main streets if leaders enact the right policy environment.


The Yellowhammer State’s 39 beer distributors employ nearly 2,500 hardworking men and women in well-compensated jobs. We pay more $149 million each year in wages and salaries and deliver nearly $1 billion in total economic impact. Not only do we contribute almost $126 million annually in taxes, but we also help collect county and state beer levies, which fund education and many other indispensable state services.

Notably, much of our activity takes place in smaller towns across the state. And by serving as the independent link between brewers and retailers, beer distributors prevent monopolies and encourage innovation. This has helped fuel the rise of local craft breweries and allows each brewery to compete in the marketplace on a level playing field.

Just a decade ago, grassroots advocates pushed to rollback Alabama’s brewing restrictions. They helped spark a new wave of experimental and heritage-focused beer making. And Alabama’s independent beer distributors have been there every step of the way, leveraging our marketing expertise, infrastructure and relationships with licensed retailers to ensure these local breweries’ innovative products get their fair share of shelf and tap space.

Due to the combined efforts of producers and wholesalers, Birmingham rapidly became one of the nation’s fastest-growing craft beer markets. Places like Avondale have been revitalized by breweries, and Mobile is seeing upstarts turn abandoned buildings into energetic neighborhoods, attracting restaurants and other entertainment venues to grow alongside them.

The contributions of Alabama’s beer distributors do not end with our economic impacts, however. We also give back with generous contributions to charities, events and development efforts designed to ensure a rising tide floats all Alabama businesses and families to new heights.

These are the details we’re sharing with legislators this week in Washington, D.C., in addition to using what we learn in our nation’s capital to generate greater benefits for our neighbors back home. For example, updates on regulatory compliance will ensure we continue to deliver a safe, legal product, so consumers never have to worry about the dangerous, tainted beers that are all too common in other countries like Mexico and India.

Every Alabama beer distributor is proud to play a part in a sector that thrives on the original American values of fair competition and family-focused enterprise. We’re especially glad that our passion for the age-old craft of beer empowers us to deliver for Alabama communities, and we hope federal and state policymakers will support us in our constant efforts to do more.

Michael Schilleci is the president of Supreme Beverage Company, Inc., a fourth-generation beer wholesaler in Birmingham, Ala., and is the National Beer Wholesalers Association chairman of the board.

1 year ago

A perfect day to celebrate Alabama’s beer history


Today, beer lovers across the country are celebrating the 85th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which made alcohol legal again. It’s a historic day for our state and nation, marking the end of the 13-year alcohol drought known as Prohibition. Now, that’s something to toast.

It’s tough to imagine Alabama without our thriving beer scene. No matter the occasion, consumers here can find a variety of adult beverage brands, flavors, and profiles at the tip of their fingers. But we rarely take the time to reflect on the rich history of beer and how our nation came to enjoy a beer as America’s most preferred adult beverage.


That is why December 5 is an important reminder for all Americans to say cheers to the forward-thinking lawmakers and leaders who put in place the timelessly effective state-based alcohol structure that continues to bolster the beer industry in Alabama and across our great nation today.

It was not always so. Leading up to Prohibition, marketplace abuses of alcohol were rampant and communities came together nationwide to protest the unregulated sale and consumption of alcohol, ultimately leading to the passage of the 18th Amendment that banned alcohol altogether across the country. Prohibition, the “Noble Experiment,” was an effort to reduce the chaos and misfortune many Americans felt at the time.

But, from 1920-1933, things actually got worse. Illegally-produced liquor poisoned consumers, causing blindness, paralysis and even death. People began drinking more heavily and consuming liquor of higher alcohol contents when they could. Corruption became widespread and formerly law-abiding citizens began breaking the law. Ultimately, Prohibition as a one-size-fits-all solution was a total failure. And, as lawmakers repealed the 18th Amendment with the 21st, they implemented a new system they hoped would prevent the problems preceding Prohibition, while also promoting entrepreneurship, consumer choice, competition and public safety.

The lawmakers’ insistence on different state models would pay tremendous dividends for today’s modern distribution system. Our evolving alcohol market continues to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and sale of beverage alcohol – fostering competition in the market and promoting fair enterprise at each level of the supply chain.

Today, beer entrepreneurs, our craft brewers and our favorite old-time classics can all rely on the efficiency of this industry to reach new markets, and consumers can expect a vast selection of brands. It’s why we’ve seen the number of breweries skyrocket nationally from 49 breweries in the 1980’s to nearly 7,000 today. Alabama alone is home to more than 40 of these establishments. It’s true that the growth and confidence we’ve seen would not exist without the 21st Amendment.

The expansion of beer has also led to significant economic gains. Here in Alabama, beer distributors are responsible for more than 2,400 jobs, provide more than $173 million in wages and benefits to employees, and pay over $198 million in state and local taxes. This incredible economic contribution is all because of a critical, yet little-known member of the beer industry – America’s independent beer distributors.

Very few people understand the significance of beer distributors. Across Alabama, 39 independent beer distributors work closely with brewers, big and small, and retailers to keep the beer shelves stocked and bar taps filled with your favorite brews. These businesses have their finger on the pulse of local consumers’ interests and constantly introduce new beers to new markets.

They have invested in the necessary resources, like state-of-the-art warehouses to store beer and temperature-controlled trucks to transport it, both innovations that allow brewers to thrive. Beer distributors also level the playing field for smaller, craft brewers by giving them fair access to the market riding on the same trucks as the bigger players.

What’s more is how critical beer distributors are to every local economy across America. They are stewards of their communities, and here in Alabama, they also contribute millions to our neighborhoods through charities, local events, and economic development.

So, as we celebrate the anniversary of the 21st Amendment rolling back Prohibition, we toast the historical roots of beer and the significant contributions of our local beer distributors with the same toast President Roosevelt delivered on this day 85 years ago: “What America needs now is a drink.”

Michael Schilleci is the president of Supreme Beverage Company, Inc., a third-generation beer wholesaler in Birmingham, Ala, and is the National Beer Wholesalers Association chairman of the board.