June 23-24, 2016 | San Francisco Hilton – Financial District

ShipCompliant’s 11th annual DIRECT conference was a two-day event featuring a lineup of highly-respected keynote speakers who shared their world-class business expertise for the U.S. beverage alcohol industry. A variety of leading industry experts discussed the latest legislative changes and other evolving topics in the beverage alcohol industry. DIRECT is one of the beverage alcohol industry’s leading and most informative conferences. At DIRECT, attendees:

    • Got the latest updates on recent and upcoming legislative changes, state-by-state
    • Learned about all the latest regulatory changes facing the industry
    • Met one-on-one with the ShipCompliant team and the beverage alcohol industry’s top vendors and software providers
    • Learned more about how to use ShipCompliant to be more efficient and compliant

2016 Conference Theme

The theme of the 2016 DIRECT Conference was BUILD TOMORROW. At this event, industry leaders, technology experts, and inspirational speakers gathered to explore what our industry could look like, with a focus on:

      • The evolution of the beverage alcohol industry
      • How technology is changing our world
      • The active role that YOU are playing in the progression of our industry

2016 Conference Topics

Sales and Marketing

There were four main tracks at the 2016 DIRECT Conference. These tracks were:

  • Compliance
  • Executive
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Technology

2016 Confirmed Speakers

Sekou Andrews

Sekou Andrews - officialPoetic Voice

Sekou Andrews is inspiring the business world in powerful and unexpected ways, through a new style of inspirational speaking called “Poetic Voice.” As the world’s leading poetic voice, Sekou creates personalized poetic presentations that give voice to the messages and missions of organizations and help them tell their most powerful stories. He is the creator of this cutting-edge category of speaking that combines strategic storytelling, spoken word poetry, theater and comedy to make events into experiences and transform audiences of informed receivers into enrolled responders.

Sekou does more than inspire us with his story; he inspires us with our story.

An elementary school teacher turned actor, recording artist, poetry slam champion, entrepreneur, and award-winning poetic voice, Sekou may spend any given day giving a poetic keynote at an international conference, training CEOs to become dynamic speakers, or performing poems for Barack Obama in Oprah Winfrey’s backyard. His work has been featured on such diverse national media outlets as ABC World News, MSNBC, HBO, Good Morning America, Showtime, MTV and BET. He has performed privately for such prominent individuals as Maya Angelou, Larry King, Norman Lear, Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, and Coretta Scott King and family. The list of global organizations being thrilled each year by poetic voice include Toyota, Nike, General Mills, Microsoft, The Gap, EA Games, Global Green, The Ritz-Carlton, Financial Times, Google, the NBA, Linkedin, Viacom, Paypal, Intuit, ASAE, Hewlett Packard, X-Prize, and Young President’s Organization to name but a few. Sekou has also emerged as an engaging voice for healthcare, routinely evoking tears, cheers and standing ovations from the audiences of clients including Johnson & Johnson, Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, TEDMED, Roche, Blue Shield, Genentech, Health Media, Cambia Health, Abbvie, Sharp Healthcare, and Health 2.0.

Puts the inspiration in information and adds goosebumps to presentations.

Beyond the business world, Sekou, along with creative partner Steve Connell, has inspired audiences from the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival to The Pasadena Pops Orchestra. Their two-man spoken word play The Word Begins received critical acclaim and garnered 3 Helen Hayes award nominations during its premiere run in Washington DC. Sekou is also a successful voiceover artist and actor with multiple national commercials and 3 feature films on his resume. As a recording artist and producer, his last album, “Poetic License,” made him the most awarded artist in the nation’s largest independent music organization. With all of the innovation and inspiration that is poetic voice, Sekou Andrews gives voice to our most powerful stories and shows us the best version of ourselves, to help us achieve it.

Sasha Strauss
Sasha StraussManaging Director

Corporations, charities, universities, the press, and religious institutions call on Sasha Strauss to share his perspective on branding everything from startups to Fortune 100 companies. In Sasha’s near twenty years in the communications industry, he has been a leader at the world’s preeminent marketing agencies and helped build the brands of some of the world’s largest organizations.

In 2006, Sasha started his own firm, Innovation Protocol, based in Los Angeles. As managing director of a team of 25 at Innovation Protocol, Sasha advises organizations such as PayPal, Disney, LEGO, Nestlé, and ADP on how to tell their story to customers, investors and employees alike. And Sasha is committed to building the next generation of brand marketers, serving as a professor at both the UCLA Anderson and USC Marshall graduate business schools.

Steve Gross
Steve GrossVice President, State Relations, The Wine Institute

Steve is the point-person for DIRECT attendees when it comes to understanding the intricacies and implications of recent and upcoming legislation. With three decades of experience at the Wine Institute, he uses his expertise to dissect the ever-changing landscape for wine direct shippers. Steve oversees the activities of Wine Institute’s six State Relations Regional Counsels and Regional Directors as they address state legislation affecting the wine industry, and coordinates Wine Institute’s legislative and regulatory activities with staff, contract lobbyists, and member wineries. Steve regularly participates in many national programs dealing with issues facing the wine industry, both on the legislative and regulatory levels.

John Beaudette
John BeaudetteCEO, MHW, Ltd.

John Beaudette is currently President and CEO of MHW Ltd., and has been active in the beverage alcohol industry for over 30 years. Since 1995, Mr. Beaudette has held his role as President and CEO of MHW Ltd., a national beverage alcohol import, distribution, and service company located in Manhasset, New York. MHW provides U.S. import and distribution services to wineries, breweries, and distilleries throughout the world. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of The National Association of Beverage Importers Inc. (NABI) in Washington, D .C. and serves as Board of Directors and Chairman Emeritus. Mr. Beaudette is a frequent speaker and lecturer at beverage alcohol events around the world and is one of the organizers of the annual U.S. Drinks Conference and U.S. Beverage Alcohol Forum.

Susan Evans
Susan-Evans-2015Executive Liaison for Industry and State Matters, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)

Susan works to enhance TTB’s interactions with our state government counterparts as well as with TTB-regulated industry members and their representatives. Ms. Evans particularly focuses her efforts in the areas of communication, education, and customer service. A native of Tonawanda, New York, she began her federal career as a field inspector with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in 1988. She held a variety of positions in the field before coming to ATF Headquarters in Washington, DC in 1999, as the head of the Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division. In that role, Susan was instrumental in the development of COLAs Online, the Bureau’s first e-filing system. In January 2003, when TTB was created, she became TTB’s first Assistant Administrator for Headquarters Operations. In 2005, she was appointed to the newly-created position of Executive Liaison for Industry Matters. In this position, she served proudly as one of the creators of the TTB Expos. In 2013, Susan took on the additional role of TTB State Liaison. As part of her duties, she is available to address state government and industry forums on TTB-related issues, and is always happy to act as an initial point of contact for anyone with questions about TTB.

Pearlette Ramos
Pearlette RamosAssistant Director of Administration, Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control

Assistant Director of Administration & In-House Counsel, Pearlette J. Ramos, manages operations within the Administrative Service Division which includes financial services, procurement, human resources, auditing, communications and board administration.

In 1995, Pearlette graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Prior to joining the department in 2007, she spent the majority of her career practicing municipal law and commercial litigation, serving as a project manager and strategist, and helping others develop as a life and executive coach.

Throughout her life Pearlette has been committed to lifelong learning and helping others. These passions inspired her to return to school in 2007 and in 2012 she graduated from Saybrook University with a Ph.D. in Psychology. Her dissertation, Well-Being: A Study of Attorney Beliefs, Attitudes, and Perceptions, takes a critical look at the factors that influence well-being among Arizona lawyers.

Pearlette volunteers her time leading youth leadership workshops, training teens on resilience, and mentoring women who have been victims of domestic violence.

Matt Botting
Matt BottingGeneral Counsel, California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

Matthew Botting was appointed to the position of ABC General Counsel in August, 2008. Botting has over 16 years of state government legal experience. He was ABC’s Chief Legal Counsel from 2000-2004 before he left for a short time to work in private practice. Botting returned to ABC in 2005 where he served as a Staff Counsel III until his appointment to General Counsel. Prior to joining ABC in 2000, Botting was a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) degrees from Otago University in New Zealand before relocating to the United States.

New Event!

8 presenters in 5 minutes, 20 auto-advance slides every 15 seconds and pure passion!


Learn More Here!


Thank you to our incredible sponsors!


Wines & Vines logo


OpenEdge logo


FedEx logo
Copper Peak
AMS Software


GSO logo
VinFillment logo
WISE Academy logo


Microworks Technologies, Inc. logo
SevenFifty logo
WineDirect logo
Nexternal logo
simplyCMS logo
Wineshipping logo
eCellar logo
Granbury Wine Solutions/vinSUITE logo
Pack n' Ship Direct logo
uCella logo
71lbs logo
vinSUITE logo
Qorkz logo
Vin65 logo

Sponsorship and Exhibitor Information

For information or questions about sponsorship or exhibiting at the DIRECT 2017 Conference, reach out to Liz Watson at liz@shipcompliant.com or (303) 996-1748.

DIRECT Industry Review

Thursday, May 28 | 8 am – 5:30 pm

8:30-9:00am Registration & Networking Breakfast
9:00-9:45am Keynote
9:45-10:45am State Regulatory Panel
10:45-11am Networking Coffee Break
11-12:15pm Federal Regulatory Panel w/ Susan Evans, TTB
12:15-1:45pm Networking Lunch
1:45-2:45pm Best Business Practices w/ Large Suppliers
2:45-3pm Networking Coffee Break
3-4pm Wine, Spirits and Beer Industry Trends
4-4:30pm ShipCompliant Product Update
ShipCompliant Workshops & Discussions

Thursday, May 28 | 8 am – 5:30 pm

8:30-9:00am Registration & Networking Breakfast
9:00-9:45am Keynote
9:45-10:45am State Regulatory Panel
10:45-11am Networking Coffee Break
11-12:15pm Federal Regulatory Panel w/ Susan Evans, TTB
12:15-1:45pm Networking Lunch
1:45-2:45pm Best Business Practices w/ Large Suppliers
2:45-3pm Networking Coffee Break
3-4pm Wine, Spirits and Beer Industry Trends
4-4:30pm ShipCompliant Product Update


We had a wonderful DIRECT 2015

The 2015 DIRECT conference was a great success! There were updates from industry experts, inspirational speakers, networking opportunities, in-depth ShipCompliant product training, and tons of fun! If you weren’t able to make it or you want to see and share the incredible content that was covered, you can find it all here.


Thank you for doing this. I really loved everything! The speakers were wonderful, the break out sessions were super valuable and informative. The 1 on 1 sessions were super helpful and it is just really nice to put a face with the names. This was so helpful and dare I say, life changing?

You guys do such an amazing job picking who comes to speak at DIRECT. I am continually impressed, I leave feeling inspired and motivated, and I always look forward to seeing who you have lined up for the next year! Thank you for putting together such an awesome event. See you all next year!

I appreciate how you’ve consistently brought in experts and speakers from other industries. It gives us in the wine industry a look at what works and gets us out of our comfort zone. There are always things to learn from the outside world and sometimes we forget that! Thank you for so many years of a great event! Cheers to many more!

More DIRECT Resources

DIRECT Keynote Speaker Announcement | Steve Gross

We’re thrilled to announce Steve Gross as our first keynote speaker for this year’s DIRECT Conference!

The FAQs of DIRECT 2016

We are so excited for the DIRECT conference coming up this June. Because we know you have questions about what to expect at this year’s event, we’ve compiled our answers to the FAQs.

Event Announcement | 2016 DIRECT Conference

We are excited to share that ShipCompliant’s annual DIRECT Conference will take place June 23-24, 2016. This year, we’re taking DIRECT 2016 on the road – to San Francisco! This is the 11th year we’ve hosted this event, and we’re eager to make it better than ever!

Register for DIRECT