Stateways Nov-Dec 2014

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays Q Q November/December 2014 10 D A T E L I N E I n 1978, the North Carolina General Assembly approved liquor-by-the-drink permits for the fi rst time in 70 years. Three years later Mike Herring was hired as a fi eld auditor assigned to monitor bars and restaurants granted permits. Little did he know at the time, but Herring would rise from a fi eld auditor to an audit division supervisor to assistant administrator and for the past 19 years the state's chief administrator. Gross sales have nearly tripled in North Carolina un- der Herring's leadership, and the state's $867 million in gross sales for Fiscal Year 2014 ranks fourth in the con- trol states. Herring will retire at the end of 2014 after 33 years with the ABC, but we caught up with him for a quick interview before he and his wife, Liz, pack up and begin spending more time in their second home in the North Carolina mountains. StateWays: What did the industry look like when you were starting out, and what were the challenges North Carolina faced at the time? Mike Herring: We were a conservative state, so from right after Prohibition up through the 80s there was a strong opposition to alcohol in general. There were a lot of dry pockets of the state where there was no alcohol whatsoev- er. In 1980, we had 139 local ABC boards, approximately 1,500 liquor-by-the-drink permits and gross sales coming out of ABC stores around $281 million. We really started to see tremendous growth around 2001 and have been go- ing upwards ever since. Today we have 169 ABC boards, about 5,600 liquor-by-the-drink permits and gross sales over $850 million. The other thing that is interesting is that back then we had one winery, one brewery and no distilleries operating in North Carolina. Today, there are 145 wineries, 90 breweries and 15 distilleries. SW: How did your early days working in the audit department inform your career as an administrator? MH: It helped a lot. Not only was I working with retail- ers in my early days of fi eld auditing but also the peo- ple holding liquor-by-the-drink permits. I also started working with the local ABC boards, learning how their operations worked and what their needs were. I came away not only being able to understand the policy and the laws but also how they affect business. SW: What are the accomplishments in your career that you're most proud of? HAIL TO THE CHIEF RETIRING NORTH CAROLINA CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR MIKE HERRING LOOKS BACK ON HIS 33-YEAR CAREER WITH THE ABC By Matt Remsberg IF YOU CAN USE A LITTLE COMMON SENSE, YOU CAN HELP PEOPLE FIND A WAY TO GET THINGS DONE THAT ARE FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE STATE AND THE BUSINESSES. " —Mike Herring "

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