Head of North Carolina alcohol board resigns, cites stress

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The chairman of the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has resigned from the board, citing anxiety over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the agency’s recent challenges with liquor distribution.

A.D. “Zander” Guy submitted his resignation on Friday to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who appointed him to the chairmanship in early 2017.

Guy, who also previously served as chairman when Democrat Beverly Perdue was governor, said in a phone interview Monday that recent events led he and his wife to reassess his service.

The former mayor of Surf City said he’ll be 73 next month and that two friends and an uncle with COVID-19 had died in the last 90 days. Guy also said liquor supply troubles, including the rollout of a new computerized inventory and ordering software program by the ABC system’s warehouse operations contractor, had led to added stress.

“When you can’t sleep at night and you’re worrying about things that you can’t control, it’s time to readjust,” Guy told The Associated Press, adding later: “I’m done.”

Cooper’s office on Monday thanked Guy for his service on the commission. Guy’s three-sentence resignation letter, provided by the governor’s office, didn’t go into specifics.

There are two other commissioners who also serve at the pleasure of the governor. The chairman is considered a full-time, salaried position. The commission oversees the state’s wholesale and retail liquor distribution. The liquor comes from licensed distillers to the state’s two alcohol warehouses before it gets shipped to local ABC stores for sale.

WBTV in Charlotte, which first reported Guy’s resignation, said the commission in July began a renewed contract with LB&B Associates — the agency’s longtime warehouse operator — that includes new requirements, such as the electronic inventory system. Some county ABC boards have told the television station that they aren’t receiving weekly shipments, or that the shipments are greatly reduced — leading to empty shelves and restaurants unable to remain stocked.

The commission “has acknowledged that LB&B Associates’ implementation of the new contract has not met expectations or the level of service that the ABC customers deserve,” commission spokesperson Jeff Strickland said.

Global supply issues also have led to shortages, Strickland said, and North Carolina bars and restaurants returning to more normal operations following COVID-19 closures have seen a massive demand increase in mixed-beverage sales. Total alcohol sales at local ABC board locations statewide were 14% higher in July compared to July 2020, according to the commission.

Guy told the AP he had plenty of confidence in LB&B in working through the problems. “At the end of the day it’s going to work and be good for everyone,” he said. “Customer service is my No. 1 concern.” LB&B President and CEO David Van Scoyoc said it was working with local and state ABC officials to address supply problems, WBTV reported.

Rep. Tim Moffitt, a Henderson County Republican and chairman of the House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee, wished Guy well on Monday, calling him forthright. Moffitt said alcohol supply issues would be addressed soon in public by the committee.

“ABC is under a lot of stress right now,” Moffitt said.

Nearly $1.37 billion in spiritous liquor and fortified wine were sold at the more than 430 local ABC stores statewide for the year ending June 30, 2020, according to the state commission’s annual report. State and local governments shared over $529 million in revenues.