West Bloomfield, MI (May 2020) – After four years operating as a for-profit business under the Midwest Independent Retailers Association (MIRA) brand, Benchmark Beverage Company has been sold to LKI, a Lipari family owned investment company with multiple businesses.
“We are truly excited about the purchase of the company,” said Auday Arabo, outgoing president and CEO of MIRA. “It shows the evolution of the company which has experienced more than 100 percent growth year over year since its inception four years ago.”
Arabo will be leaving MIRA to take the position as President and CEO of Benchmark under the LKI ownership. “I was excited to accept the new challenge after spending more than 11 years with MIRA,” said Arabo. “I have spent my career working in family owned businesses and turning organizations around. I have worked in liquor stores and supermarkets in San Diego and then working on Capitol Hill for a US Congressman and then as an assistant prosecutor in San Diego County, running associations in California and the Midwest and I am happy to come back full circle in the for-profit arena.”
The purchase agreement included MIRA retaining 10 percent stock ownership in the company. “We have been marketing and growing the brands within Benchmark Beverage Company under MIRA, but our growth was greater than what MIRA had funds to support,” said Arabo. “The sale was necessary to take the company to the next level and is a WIN-WIN-WIN for all parties.”
The idea for Benchmark Beverage Company started with four people including Nabby Yono, former chairman of MIRA and long-time member who introduced the idea to Arabo. George Zrinyi, a well-known spirits industry figure and Burt Kassab, a local attorney were brought in. The four started the company by investing $1,000 each. They had a goal to fill a void in the marketplace. “After 13 supplier brokerage contracts were signed and before we sold even a single case, the MIRA board decided it was a conflict for us to own this business and they insisted we sell it to them, so we did because an idea without execution is merely a dream,” said Arabo.
The plan is to make Benchmark one of the biggest companies in Michigan’s adult beverage industry. There are more than 800 Benchmark Beverage Company items that are sold in Michigan including popular ones like Nue Vodka, Wilderness Trail Bourbon, El Dorado Rum, Padre Azul Tequila, Khor Vodka, Beluga Vodka, Compass Box Scotches, Cask and Kettle K-Cups, Barrel Bourbon and the largest selection of Japanese Whiskies in the country. There are more than 6,000 licensees in Michigan that buy products represented by Benchmark Beverage Company. “We plan to expand our marketplace reach outside of Michigan,” said Arabo. “Our short-term and long-term goal is to grow, grow and grow even more.”
MIRA was first formed in 1910 as the Meat Cutters Association. Today, the association represents more than 4,000 independent retailers in the Midwest including Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. www.miramw.org
ABOUT Benchmark Beverage
Benchmark Beverage Company is owned by LKI, a Lipari Family owned investment company that was created on the idea that every brand has a unique story to tell. They specialize in building new and mid-tier supplier brands from the United States and all over the world. Benchmark Beverage Company has also built a reputation on turning around failing brands in a short period of time. The focus to detail and fulfilling the special needs of each supplier we represent is what sets us apart from the rest of the industry. The company motto “Liquid to Lips” is what we live by and one of the major factors we take into consideration before we agree to partner with a supplier.
Media Contact: Vanessa Denha Garmo firstname.lastname@example.org