From the Editor – Modernizing the Control States

Updating control state operations – from back-office efficiencies to warehouse improvements to IT upgrades to store redesigns, among other things – is nothing new and has been progressing for several decades. Admittedly, some states have progressed faster than others, but it is important to note that while continuing to modernize, the control states overall successfully fulfill their dual mandate of providing much-needed revenue to their states as well as overseeing the responsible sale and distribution of beverage alcohol products while also battling the abuse and misuse of those products through many varied programs.

With the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association’s 77th Annual Conference taking place in Marco Island, FL, beginning May 19, we are once again highlighting the incoming NABCA Chairman in a profile. This year is slightly different, since Jeff Anderson, director of the Idaho State Liquor Division (ISLD), has already been NABCA Chairman for a number of months (with the resignation of J. Neal Insley, of Virginia), and he will continue in that position until next May.

Interestingly, the ISLD has notably embarked on a modernization campaign for division’s 66 state stores, called iMod, since Anderson took over the reigns a few years ago. “Our goal is to have our stores continue to look and feel like a good-quality retailer, to provide knowledgeable, friendly, helpful service and to have the product you want at a fair price,” Anderson said. “With something like iMod, there is never a finish line. You have to continually adapt to the needs of the customer.”

John Byrne, Director of Control States, Rémy Cointreau USA, and Chairman of the NABCA Industry Steering Committee (ISC) notes in our “NABCA Industry Steering Committee Roundtable” (see page 34) that meetings this past year with the NABCA Board of Directors resulted in a “valuable interaction that underscored the modernization efforts taking place in control jurisdictions.”

He added that the ISC also meets “one on one” with each control jurisdiction. Byrne said, “The meetings offer a dialogue that assists states in identifying best practices as they continue to modernize their operations. Indeed, there are many examples where modernization efforts have resulted in upgraded or new warehouse operations (e.g., IA, NH, NC and Montgomery County); modernized and/or expanded retail stores (e.g., AL, NH, ID, OR, VA, OH and VT); introduction of trade shows for licensees (e.g., AL, WV and MS), as well as continuing to implement efficient product selection and category management systems.”

So, yes, modernization in the control states continues to move forward, even as privatization campaigns continue to challenge the control systems in individual states. Still, NABCA Chairman Anderson takes a balanced position: “Our job as public servants is not to be advocates for one position or another; it’s not to argue that control states are better. Our job is to tell the truth, to model and explain what we do, how we do it and why we do it.”

Even so, in the ISLD’s 2013 Annual Report, Anderson wrote, “Good government requires openness in evaluating various options, but at the end of the day the system we enjoy is efficient and serves our constitutional mandate.”


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