Paul Hletko —
Mark Shilling —
In two short years, ACSA became far more than I ever dared to hope, and we established the foundation for even greater success in the years that followed.
As we salute our fifth anniversary, we have much to celebrate. ACSA has experienced a banner year in a multitude of areas, from advocacy to education and member support and communications.
The premiere milestones of my presidency were working with our newly hired Executive Director (Margie) to ensure she had all the tools and resources she needed to drive our mission. A continual improvement in our professional efforts (and demeanor) have secured our position as the only nonprofit trade association for small distillers. I was honored to take over the reins from Tom, and hand over to Mark in a peaceful and structured transition that highlights the core values of the ACSA—an association by distillers and for distillers, managed by elected distillers. We worked with our beverage alcohol industry partners from beer and wine to keep pushing Federal Excise Tax (FET) relief, an agenda that eventually reached our goal due to Mark’s efforts and passion. Working on behalf of all small distillers has been one of the greatest honors of my professional life and I thank each and every one of you for allowing me to serve this art that I love with all my heart.”
It goes without saying that passage of the reduced FET will be remembered as one of the biggest victories for distillers since the fall of Prohibition. Along the way to passage, we created the first of what will become an annual Capitol Fly-In, taking our regulatory and legislative concerns to Congress and TTB; we’ve created a special committee working to lift restrictions on Direct to Consumer shipping; and we continue to identify other areas for spirits modernization. We’ve made considerable upgrades in our member communications, including the Monthly Mash and the Craft Spirits Weekly e-newsletters and the launch of our new and much more robust ACSA website. We’ve also begun increasing the quality and reach of our social media activities—all designed to help increase communication and support among our members and industry partners. In addition, 2017 brought about more and better education in the form of our regular webinar series: The Craft Spirits Classroom: Quenching Your Thirst for Knowledge and our first regional Educational Master Class, held in Denver in August. We commissioned a study of the state regulatory laws impacting spirits and shared it with the growing universe of guilds. Although we’ve had a great five years and have accomplished much, we’ve still got lots of work to do—first and foremost making permanent the reduced FET. But if there is anything more important to the future of craft distilling, it’s the continuing work framing the growth and economic impacts of our industry—our CSDP (we owe thanks to our partners, Park Street and the IWSR, who graciously donate their time and skills to make possible this annual economic study). The CSDP has become an invaluable tool, not just for public policy discussions but more importantly for supporting the financial impacts and continuing growth opportunities for our businesses.”
Here’s to our next five years. Working together, with you and our loyal sponsors who have provided immense support, we will succeed in realizing and toasting our ACSA vision: The greatest spirits are universally recognized as coming from our member producers, and they are enjoyed responsibly everywhere in the world. Margie A.S. Lehrman is Executive Director of American Craft Spirits Association. Visit www americancraftspirits.org for more info on ACSA and to join.
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