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Drinks delayed as liquor distributor deals with difficulties

shelves of liquor

Bars and store shelves across Michigan are a little short on liquor and wine lately.

That's because one of the state's three authorized liquor distributors has been having trouble making deliveries.

About 13,000 businesses in the state depend on Republic National Distributing Company.

“We know some customers are not thrilled with our service, but we had a team of sales people in here on Saturday – about 30 to get some orders out,” says Steve Rochow, Michigan State Executive Vice President for RNDC. “We’re doing everything possible to try to facilitate our customer needs.”

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission said it's received complaints about the delays.

“We are holding RNDC accountable on how they plan to fix this situation for our licensees,” said liquor commission chair Pat Gagliardi, according to a statement released by the state. “It’s our priority to ensure our licensees have their shelves stocked for the public, especially in advance of the holiday season.”

The Liquor Control Commission says RNDC could face fines if the problem isn’t fixed.

Rochow says the delays started because the distributor closed two facilities – one in Grand Rapids and one in the Southeast Michigan town of Brownstown. It consolidated its distribution into a new facility in Livonia that makes more use of automation.

Rochow says the new facility will eventually save the company money, and allow it to process orders more quickly. But, in the past several weeks, there have been software problems and other technical issues that slowed things down.

Next week, he says the company plans to re-open the Brownstown facility to help catch up on orders.

“We’re confident in the systems,” Rochow says. “We’re confident in the people here in Michigan. We’ve gone through some challenges, and hopefully next week, we’ll see things start to improve again.”

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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