Transforming the way spirits, wine, and beer are sold, Texas Tech alumna credits master’s program for success in navigating category management
Lindsey DeWit graduated from the College of Human Sciences with her bachelor's degree in Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management (RHIM) in 2016 before she went on to pursue her master's in Hospitality and Retail Management. She is currently in her second year as a sales representative for Republic National Distribution Company (RNDC) in Lubbock.
"I am responsible for 50% of the bars and restaurants in the Lubbock area and catering to all of the spirit needs," Lindsey said. "This includes new products, creating and printing menus, and helping drive business."
Since the pandemic, Lindsey has seen quite the uptick in alcoholic beverage sales. As the public health situation rapidly evolved around the country, so did Lindsey's sales tactics. In-person meetings and product deliveries became countless phone calls and various means of online communications.
"It really has been difficult to stay in contact with some people, you have to be persistent and offer as much help as you can. Before we would bring the products in face to face, but now we are communicating through pictures and PowerPoint presentations. Social media has also been a large factor during this time. This is how we see everyone's daily specials and how they are keeping their businesses alive."
After completing her undergraduate degree in RHIM at Texas Tech, Lindsey says she wanted to continue her education to expand her career opportunities. Now more than ever, she is especially thankful she made that decision.
"I am extremely thankful to have studied Category Management while completing my master's, it has made the transition into retail so smooth. Most people in this industry either work for liquor or grocery stores or bars and restaurants, but never both. It has been an eye-opening experience into how the other life lives."
More than just new sales tactics, Lindsey found herself much more immersed in the retail side of spirits and wine sales. With many changes across the industry, RNDC was committed to exploring new areas of business.
"COVID-19 has affected the beverage industry in several ways," Lindsey explained. "For example, Texas has allowed alcohol sales on to-go orders. This has been something no one in the on-premise world has had experience with. We usually only sell sizes of 750ml to 1-liter bottles. Now with the to-go alcohol, we have been working on our smaller sizing. Think airplane liquor and wine. So that has been a challenge state-wide, just making sure the right products are in the right warehouses."
Amidst the changes, Lindsey was assigned to different liquor and grocery stores in Lubbock, where she was in charge of stocking the shelves and taking orders.
"Honestly, having this happen has made me more aware of what goes on the other side of our business," Lindsey said. "I've been working closely with our retail team and have got to use a lot of the knowledge I learned when taking category management."
During graduate school in the Hospitality and Retail Management program, Lindsey's non-thesis project analyzed wine category for the large grocery retailer, H-E-B. She was able to track wine buying trends in certain areas to see how consumers buy their wine in Texas.
"It was really cool to see how demographics really play into what is bought around the state. For example, we could see that some of your fruitier and sweeter wines were sold more heavily near the Mexico-Texas border. I am excited for Lubbock's H-E-B to open so I can see how our wine category is broken up."
Even with many changes and a new way of doing business, Lindsey says she enjoys that Republic National Distribution Company is a family-owned company.
"You can really tell by the way they run their business and how they treat their employees," Lindsey said.