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Southern Glazer’s: Pioneers Of Wine And Spirits Distribution


America’s largest distributors of wines and spirits, Southern Glazer’s ranked #11 on the Forbes’ List of America’s Largest Private Companies. Here’s how they made it so far.

Southern Glazer’s is a multi-generational and family-owned company that is a pre-eminent distributor of alcohol. It was in 2016 when Southern Wine and Spirits merged with Glazer’s and became a big name in this industry. Glazer’s was earlier known as the Jumbo Bottling Company and was started by Louis Glazer. Founded in 1909 in Dallas, Texas, they distributed flavored soda and later became the fourth-largest alcohol distributor in the country that was operating in 14 states, Canada and the Caribbean, prior to the merger. Southern Wine and Spirits was initially started by Harvey Chaplin who started his career working for Schenley Industries, the marketer and American importer of Dewar’s White Label Scotch. Founded in 1968 in Miami, Florida, Southern became the largest wine and spirits wholesaler in the U.S. by 1992 and was operating in 35 states. The merger was a great opportunity for both the alcohol giants to come together and plan a strong future. 


At present, Southern Glazer's distributes over 7,000 brands in 44 U.S. markets, the District of Columbia, Canada, and the Caribbean. They focus on being a distributor of choice for their customers and suppliers by working with a diverse team of empowered industry leaders. Their vision lies in exceeding the expectations of their trading partners through outstanding sales, service, and results with the help of innovative strategies, unrivaled relationships, state-of-the-art technology, and the industry’s best trained and most talented team. While understanding the nuances of their business, they ensure that they offer exactly what their customers are looking for.

How Did Southern Glazer’s Become a Giant in the Alcohol Industry?

The objectives of Southern Glazer’s were laid down very clearly which focused on constantly seeking to advance and enhance their business’ impact. They made sure that they consolidated the tasks of their multiple and separate facilities into a single hub which was servicing the entire of Florida. It became the largest spirits and wine distribution hub which was spread across 1.2 million square feet. Some of the other key aspects that Southern Glazer’s has focused on over the years are:

Disruptors of the Industry

Being the shapers of the future, Southern Glazer’s does not benchmark itself against others in this category. They have been adopting the best practices that the business world offers. They focus on hiring talent from outside the facades of the industry and also recognize the diversity of people that bring in diverse perspectives from their different backgrounds which are expedient for transformation.

Working With Key Technologies

Pallet Conveyor System at Southern Glazer’s; Image Source - Bastian Solutions

Pallet Conveyor System at Southern Glazer’s; Image Source - Bastian Solutions

Over the years, Southern Glazer’s has invested generously in top-notch technology that has enhanced the operating performance, logistics while providing rich data insights. They have the largest data set in the industry which extracts customer insights, monitors channel preferences and account performance while optimizing route-to-market analysis. Some of the key technologies they are working with are:

ExactaBev Beverage Distribution Software - A beverage warehouse execution system that offers class order fulfillment technologies for the beverage industry.

Human Machine Interface (HMI) - An intuitive system that keeps you connected with your material handling and automation system. 

A Pallet conveyor system

A Case Conveyor and Sortation over 200 cases per minute

A Voice Directed picking in bottle room

Carton and pallet flow rack

Extraordinary Results

Having top-notch technology, a diverse team, a strong vision, and a lot more in place has given some extraordinary results over the years. It has seen an increase in efficiency and throughput which has resulted in improved order accuracy and better customer services. Some of the notable results have been:

$21 billion revenue at the end of the Fiscal Year 2020

20,000+ Employees

25.5 million cases shipped every year

44 U.S. Markets, District of Columbia, Canada, and the Caribbean

A portfolio of 45% Wines and 55% Spirits

12,000 SKUs managed by the system itself

Increased storage capacity from 2.2 million cases to 6.4 million 

22% increase in overall cases picked per hour

Forklift traffic minimized using automated conveyor systems

Southern Glazer’s Warehouse; Image Source - Bastian Solutions

Southern Glazer’s Warehouse; Image Source - Bastian Solutions

Investment in Employees

Southern Glazer's gear its investment in securing the success of not just the business but also by offering tools to expand the capabilities of their employees. The company offers a continuous education platform to its employees through Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits University which is a beverage appreciation and evaluation institute. They offer various courses to their employees like:

Bachelor of Wine

Bachelor of Spirits

Bachelor of Malts

Bachelor of Career Development 

It offers its employees to study and analyze wine, spirits, and other beverages to help them to sell their portfolio of products better. The employees at Southern Glazer’s hold several certifications and degrees including the WSET, Court of Sommeliers, and many other certifications.

Strategic Growth

Southern Glazer’s focus on growing strategically through its outstanding agility to respond to the changing business condition and commitment to steady development and improvements. The company continues to grow by securing new deals and expanding to new markets, even outside of the U.S. 

SG Proof

In 2019, Southern Glazer’s launched Proof which is an industry-leading B2B eCommerce platform. It offers a fully-responsive digital shopping experience that gives the customers the ability to efficiently research, shop, and order products. The experience has been designed very efficiently and offers the most relevant shopping information with just a mouse click.

SG Proof Website; Image Source - SG Proof

SG Proof Website; Image Source - SG Proof

Brand Portfolio

Southern Glazer has a vast portfolio with over 7,000 brands. The company has various selling divisions which help in managing the specific partners and the different alcohol categories:

SGWS (Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits) - It is the core division connecting retail off-and on-premise trade at the street level. They help stores in expanding their selection, reducing operating costs, and growing their business.

American Liberty -  It optimizes value and sell-through of brands of the Pernod Ricard USA portfolio in 33 of the current states. Sell-through is the rate to measure the inventory that is sold within a given period in relation to the inventory that is received within the same period.

Artisanal Spirits - The Spirits portfolio includes products like Shochu, Mezcal, and old-fashioned Kentucky Bourbon. 

Atlantic - The Constellation Brands portfolio

Coastal Pacific  - The portfolio of Diageo products across the 12 states, Moët Hennessey USA across the 15 states, and both portfolios in 17 control states

Fine Wines - A portfolio of all the fine wines, from the small family-owned labels to commercial producers

Transatlantic - 44 states and Canada portfolio including brands like Bacardi, Patron, and Heaven Hill.

Some of the renowned wine and spirits brands, Southern Glazer’s has been working with are:

Russian River Valley Pinot NoirProducer - The Calling

Wine - Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Vintage - 2019

Region - Russian River Valley

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Larceny Kentucky Straight BourbonDistiller - Heaven Hill Distillery

Whiskey - Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Region - Kentucky, USA 

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Cavehill 4 Grain Triple Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distiller - Rabbit Hole Distillery

Whiskey - Cavehill 4 Grain Triple Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Region - Kentucky, USA 

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2019 Faust Cabernet SauvignonProducer - Faust Wines

Wine - 2019 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage - 2019

Region - Napa Valley

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2015 Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

Producer - Hanzell Vineyards

Wine - 2015 Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

Vintage - 2015

Region - Sonoma Valley

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Dark Rye Whiskey

Distiller - Basil Hayden Distillery

Whiskey - Dark Rye Whiskey

Region - Kentucky, USA 

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Winner of the 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards




Distiller - AMASS Distillery

Whiskey - AMASS Dry Gin

Region - California, USA

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Article by Shreya Kohli, Beverage Trade Network

Header Image Source - Grand Thornton