Empire Merchants North was formed in February 2007 from the merging of Colony Liquor & Wine Distributors and Service-Universal Distributors, two companies whose roots reach back to the end of Prohibition. The result is Upstate New York’s premier wine and spirits distributor, proudly building on decades of experience.
With state-of-the-art facilities and a dedicated team of over 700 knowledgeable and well-equipped employees, Empire Merchants North has become synonymous with both service and quality, earning the loyalty of more than 9,000 restaurants, bars, hotels, nightclubs and retail outlets.
John is a 25-year industry veteran, having started his career as a supplier with Brown-Forman, where he held Merchandising, Marketing and Sales positions before moving to Schieffelin & Somerset in 1994. He spent eight years with Schieffelin & Somerset in a variety of Senior roles, most recently as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Northeast region. John became General Manager of Atlantic Wines & Spirits at Peerless Importers in October 2002 and remained in this position through the Peerless and Charmer consolidation in 2007. He served as Executive General Manager, building and leading the Atlantic Division at Empire Merchants for ten years. John was appointed as CEO of Empire Merchants North in April 2015 and CEO of Empire Merchants in September 2016. John is a graduate of Harvard University.
Patrick Arlantico joined Colony Liquor & Wine Distributors in 2002, holding various management positions while working extensively with major suppliers such as Diageo, Moët Hennessy and Gallo. In December 2011 he was appointed chief financial officer, overseeing the Finance, Purchasing and Customer Care departments. In April 2017 he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all Finance and Operation activities for Empire Merchants North. Patrick brings over 30 years of experience in Financial management.
Carlos is a 27-year industry veteran, having been a Salesperson, Supplier and Distributor Executive for Gallo, R&R Marketing (New Jersey), Sutter Home, Peerless Importers/Atlantic Wine & Spirits (Metro New York), Moët Hennessy USA and Allied Beverage (New Jersey) during his varied, successful career. He brings an endless passion for building teams and brands, most recently in his role as vice president/general manager of Allied Beverage Group, New Jersey’s largest wine and spirits distributor.
Carol G. Brown is the Executive Director of Human Resources at Empire Merchants North. Carol joined Service-Universal Distributors in January 1983 as the Office Manager, overseeing the Syracuse operations. In 1998, she was promoted to the role of Director of Human Resources for Service-Universal Distributors. With the merger of Colony Liquor & Wine Distributors and Service-Universal Distributors, Carol became the Executive Director of Human Resources, responsible for the design and implementation of all Human Resources strategies, policies and processes throughout the company. In addition to her involvement with Human Resources, Carol also oversees all safety-related functions for Empire Merchants North. Carol received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Lycoming College.
Joe Benny began his career working his way through college and graduate school in the restaurant business, where he held various management roles. He joined Wine Merchants in 2004 as an on-premise Sales Representative. Joe was promoted to on-premise Brand Manager for the E&J Gallo portfolio at Colony Liquor & Wine. In June 2008, Joe joined the E&J Gallo Winery as State Manager, on premise, for Massachusetts. In October 2011, he was promoted again to State Manager, retail, for New Jersey, and soon after to Area Manager for the Fine Wine portfolio. In July 2013, he was made the Director of Fine Wine Retail for the Midwest Region and relocated to Chicago. In January 2014, he returned to Upstate New York to become the General Manager of the Royal Division at Empire Merchants North. He is a graduate of Siena College and holds an MBA from the State University of New York at Albany.
Timothy J. Cullen, general manager of the Imperial Division at Empire Merchants North, grew up and went to school in Oswego, New York, where his family owned and operated a wine and spirit retail store for over forty years. In 1986, after years assisting with the family business, he began his career as a merchandiser with Peerless Imports. Later, Tim moved to Colony Liquor & Wine Distributors and served as a sales representative in a number of different divisions. While a sales representative, he won multiple CC Society Man of the Year awards. He then became Diageo’s director of sales for Western New York. In 2003, Tim moved to Eber Bros. Wine and Liquor Corporation to take on the role of general manager. In 2007, he became general sales manager with Service-Universal Distributors and remained in that position through the merger of Colony Liquor & Wine Distributors with The Charmer Sunbelt Group.
Michael Lynch is the General Manager of the Phoenix Division of Empire Merchants North. Mike is a 16-year industry veteran, starting his career as a Schieffelin & Somerset account development specialist for Service-Universal Distributors. He spent nine years at Service-Universal in several roles, most recently as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the East. Mike became the General Sales Manager for the Majestic Division in September of 2007, when Service-Universal and Colony Liquor & Wines consolidated. In 2009, Mike became the General Manager of the Alliance suppliers, and subsequently led the development of the dedicated Alliance Division for Brown-Forman, Bacardi and Rémy Contreau. Mike graduated from Empire State College, State University of New York, with a Bachelor of Science degree in business management.
Keith Poole is the General Manager of the United Division at Empire Merchants North. Keith is a 17-year industry veteran, having started his career as a supplier with Seagram Americas, where he held Operations Manager and State Manager positions in Upstate New York and New Jersey. After Seagram Americas was sold, he worked for Allied Domecq, where he was the New Jersey Business Manager. In 2004, Keith transitioned to the wholesale tier as the Allied Domecq business manager for Service-Universal Distributors. When Service-Universal merged with Colony Liquor & Wine, Keith assumed the role of director of trade development for the Diageo portfolio. In 2011, Keith was promoted to the General Manager of the Regent Division at Empire Merchants North. Keith is a graduate of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, with a Bachelor of Science degree in business marketing.