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Four Bidders Vie for Maine Liquor Contract
11/14/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

Four bidders are now vying for a statewide liquor sales and marketing contract that could generate an estimated $450 million in state revenue over the next decade. Those bids are now under review, and the four companies are hoping that a winner will be announced within the next five weeks. A.J. Higgins reports.

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Under the terms of the state's request for proposals, bidders on the liquor contract had the option of providing warehousing and distribution services, marketing - or both. In an effort to ensure that only serious offers were advanced, the state required bidders to each pay a deposit of $500,000 with their proposals, which will be refunded to those that are not chosen.

When the 2 p.m. deadline arrived and the bidder's identities were revealed, four contenders emerged: All Maine Spirits LLC and Pine State Trading, both out of Augusta, CD&M Communications of Portland and Dirigo Spirit Company LLC of Cumberland.

Nick Alberding is the owner of Pine State Beverage Company, which partnered with Maine Beverage Co. nearly 10 years ago to win the current contract due to expire next year. Alberding says this time, he hopes his company emerges as the sole bidder for both distribution and marketing.

"We did bid on both," Alberding said. "So there's a Part A and Part B. Part A is really the logistics and administration, and Part B is the trade marketing. And if you're familiar with Pine State, we do both and have been since 1941. We're really a sales marketing and logistics company."

State officials with the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, and the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, did not release the details of the bids. But Alberding says the the lowest-cost offer will not necessarily be the winner, as the state will have to consider other factors as well.

"I assume they are going to be thinking about what will be involved in a potential transition, what that would look like, what other companies can do, what Pine State's doing today, which as I'm sure as you know, is not a simple task," Alberding says. "We deliver, and have been for nine years, to every agent in Maine, which there are 488 between Fort Kent and Kittery, twice a week."

Only Pine State bid on both parts of the contract. All Maine Spirits bid on distribution and warehousing only, while Dirigo and CD&M bid on the marketing component only. A decision on the successful bidder could be announced by Christmas, and the new contract would become effective July 1.


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