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Joe Bozick: Bringing Up the Beer

Posted by on in March 2014 Editions
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Joe Bozick owes pretty much everything he has to the beverage industry.  He currently serves as Vice President of Bozick Distributors, the Waldorf-based beer distributor his father, Peter, founded in 1959.  The job has brought him closer to his brother, Brian, who serves as company President.  Joe even met his wife, Cheryl, through the industry as she was a longtime employee of Boston Beer.  They've now been married for 21 years.

Bozick Distributors serves the Southern Maryland area of Prince George's, Charles, St. Mary's, and Calvert counties.  Among the major suppliers and brewers the company represents are MillerCoors, Heineken USA, Brown Imports, Boston Beer, and Pabst.  "I love working with everyone here," Bozick declared during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "When Brian and I were growing up, everything was a lot more challenging in the sense that it was a struggle through the '80s and '90s.  We were in survival mode.  Back then, I really didn't have time to enjoy the people, because every day was a grind.  But now, everything runs smoothly and everybody does their job."

He continued, "The most difficult thing nowadays is the consumer is expecting such a variety, and matching that want with what we have and what we can get has been a challenge.  It's been a challenge for the supply channel all the way through.  There's been a lot more 'industry out-of-stocks' due to the variety and complexity of what the consumer is expecting now."

When things get really tough, the Bozicks thank their lucky stars they operate in the Old Line State.  "In my viewpoint as a beer distributor," Bozick states, "we are very lucky here in Maryland that we service independent retailers.  We're not a chain market dictated by major chains that drive business on a level that isn't as localized as we have it.  We have a one-on-one relationship with every retailer.  It makes a big difference.  We can create relationships here, and those relationships can benefit us and benefit the retailer.  By comparison, in chain markets, it driven by one central office and there is a mass execution through the market.  You live or die by those decisions.  In Maryland, we have a lot more ability to influence our own future here."

And when working with his brother to chart the company's future course, the two siblings often recall advice their father gave them over the years.  "My father  was very big on 'adaptability.'  He recognized how important it was to adapt to change, and that's more key now with all of the varieties of beer and sizes and flavors.  It's more true now than it ever has been."

Bozick even admits that there's a part of him that wishes he was just starting out in the business today.  That's because, from his vantage point, there are so many more avenues of potential success to choose from.  " These are very exciting times for anyone who wants to get into the beer business," he stated.  " I would say to anyone new in the beer business today to stick with it.  I wouldn't be scared of the future at all.  Right now, there seems to be tremendous opportunity in the beer industry on all levels -- distributor, supplier, even retailer -- because there is so much variety and so much more education about beer.  There are so many more interesting aspects of the business that have developed and are developing now as opposed to 10, 20, or even 30 years ago.  In some sense, it's extremely exciting, and the opportunities are limitless.  With craft brews, you don't know how far this is going to go.  So, why wouldn't you want to get in it?"

He further observes that 2013 was marked by the successful debut of new products in the market.  Bozick Distributors, for instance, scored with the introduction of Redd's Apple Ale out of MillerCoors.  "We anticipated it would be a big success because of the product itself and its taste profile.  We executed exactly according to plan, and we hit the target numbers.  . . . We are currently introducing a new West Coast-style IPA product from Samuel Adams.  With it being West Coast, it's a little 'hoppier.'  We just started this past week [this interview was conducted in late January, and it's been well received.  But it's still too early to tell."

FAVORITE MOVIE: "Goodfellas"

HIS TEAM: The Washington Redskins

GO-TO RESTAURANT: Sobo's Wine Beerstro in Salisbury, Md.