KOP Insiders delves into the stories of the people who make King of Prussia one of Pennsylvania’s most dynamic live-work-play-stay destinations.
In depth interviews provide insight into the companies that make up our diverse business community and put a face to the individuals behind the business. In this edition, we are joined by Steven Schaffer, Sales Director at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of PA.
Tell me about yourself, how you got to this role, and a little bit more about Southern Glazer’s.
I’m Steven Schaffer, Sales Director of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of PA. I’ve been working for SGWS of PA since 1988, so 33 years with the company. I started out in the business doing sales in Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon and York Counties. Then, was promoted to an Area Manager for the east, and then Sales Director for the spirits division.
Southern Glazer’s Wines and Spirits, which is what we currently are called, was originally Margolis Wines and Spirits, which was founded locally by Sheldon Margolis. In 1995, Southern Wines and Spirits, which was based out of Miami, came to Pennsylvania and partnered with Sheldon to form Southern Wine and Spirits of Pennsylvania. This change from a family-owned business to a national corporation resulted in an increase in the brands we represented and our footprint across the US. Currently, we are in 44 states plus Canada. We are the 11th largest privately owned company in the US, which is pretty impressive. We’re a big company and getting larger every day. We’re 20,000 employees across the US. In Pennsylvania, we’re about 163 employees. We have a main office in King of Prussia on American Avenue and we have a satellite office in Sewickley, PA, which is right outside of Pittsburgh. We control about 55% of all spirits and 45% of all wines in the US.
We are the middleman in what’s called a three-tier system. It’s the consumer, the producer, and we are the middle. We manage brands with marketing and sales and then we facilitate selling and getting the product to the customer. In Pennsylvania, we are a control state, which means that the state government owns the liquor stores and the product. Therefore, the liquor control board is my biggest customer. We abide by their rules and regulations and provide products to the state stores through their two warehouses in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
How long has Southern Glazer’s been open in KOP?
It’s interesting because most people, 99.9% of the people in King of Prussia, don’t realize we’re here. We have been in the King of Prussia area since the early 80s, but moved into a new building in King of Prussia around 2016. We needed more room for the number of people, offices and meeting rooms required.
When considering the big move, why did Southern Glazer’s decide to stay in King of Prussia?
It was part of the discussion; do we want to stay here? Do we move to the city? But it came down to convenience and I’m sure cost. We could get a better value out here and again, it was not far from the city. You’re right next to the turnpike and all of the the major roads are here, plus the buzz of business and the opportunity to entertain. King of Prussia has everything you need in your backyard. It comes down to cost, location, and convenience. The owners at the time saw the potential of this area and knew it was going to grow and be perfect for us. We’re in the hospitality industry, where else would you be?
How do you think being in King of Prussia has impacted your business and how has your office benefited in King of Prussia?
We’ve benefited greatly by being in King of Prussia. First of all, just by being a part of an area that has grown so much gets us attention and makes us “hot and trendy.” It’s funny, to be trendy when you’ve been here all along! Twenty years ago when you tell someone “Oh, we’re in King of Prussia” they laugh about the name. Now, there’s recognition when you say King of Prussia. The general area has been probably one of the big positives for us with the exposure and its expansion. I now hear, “Oh wow, you’re located in a great spot. There’s a lot going on.”
We are still close enough to the city to feel connected. KOP now has such diversity in restaurants…from Mexican, Panamanian, Chilean, Italian and French. We can take any supplier to a restaurant and they feel comfortable, and it’s within 2 miles of our office. That takes a lot of pressure off of us to entertain. With all of the hotels nearby, people can stay close to the office and still have great activities around them like iFly, and Topgolf, opening any day now. We have it all here.
How has your office changed since COVID?
Over the years, we’ve developed a better idea about what people are looking for and what they do when they come in to work post pandemic. One change we’ve made is that we now have rooms specifically for impromptu meetings that feature comfortable furniture and a TV; it’s called The Distillery. We never thought that type of space would be needed and now it really is being used. We had a center room with a lot of kiosks that were kind of walled off and people could sneak in there and do a little work. We’ve gotten rid of all of that. Now, it’s a big, open, working space with 3 TVs in the center and a big screen for projections. This spaces also serves as a kind of incubator for partnerships among our different divisions.
About Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits
Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits is the world’s preeminent distributor of beverage alcohol, and a proud multi-generational, family-owned company. The Company has operations in 45 US states, the District of Columbia and Canada. In 2022, Southern Glazer’s was listed as one of Forbes Best Employers for Diversity. In 2021, Southern Glazer’s was selected as a US Best Managed Company by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal, as well as named by Newsweek as a Top 100 Most Loved Workplace. Southern Glazer’s urges all retail customers and adult consumers to market, sell, serve and enjoy its products responsibly.
460 American Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406