Leading the Industry with Precision and Progress: A Model of Success with R.H. Barringer Distributing

R.H. Barringer Distributing is a leading North Carolina beverage distributor that has achieved significant levels of operational efficiency and strategic growth with Encompass.

April 26, 2024

About R.H. Barringer Distributing Company

3rd generation family-owned distributor 

Location: North Carolina

Number of employees: 720

Number of warehouses:

SKU count: 2,000+

Annual Volume: 18.5 MM CEs

Portfolio: Anheuser-Busch, Constellation Brands, Mark Anthony Brands, national & local craft, FMBs, non-alcoholic beverages, and more

*The Craig family also owns American Premium Beverage, a wine wholesaler powered by Encompass, boasting 1 MM CEs and 6,000 SKUs.


R.H. Barringer Distributing is a leading beverage distributor in North Carolina with a sharp focus on operational efficiency, agility, and adaptability, creating a crucial advantage in a fast-paced market. This streamlined approach isn't just about profit; it allows R.H. Barringer to best serve their employees, partners, and community. They have achieved remarkable results by focusing on operational efficiency, strategic growth, and building strong relationships with suppliers and retailers. For the past 7 years, Encompass has been their strategic technology partner that Rick Craig, VP, and co-owner, calls the ‘backbone’ of their business. 

Embracing Change with Confidence

R.H. Barringer's decision to modernize their operational capabilities in 2016 led them to Encompass. "We could not have grown, and we could not run our business, as profitably and efficiently as we do, without Encompass," Craig states. Across a workforce of 720 employees and 5 warehouses, every individual interacts with Encompass daily, ensuring seamless integration of all business functions, from supplier collaboration, to finance, sales, operations, delivery, and more.

The transition to a new system is often a seemingly daunting prospect for distributors due to the critical importance of technology systems in their operations. However, the risk is not in the transition but rather in the limitations imposed by an existing, outdated system that dictates what a distributor can or cannot do. R.H. Barringer’s journey underscores a pivotal realization: the true cost of sticking with an outdated system goes beyond dealing with inefficiencies—it's being constrained by them. 

Embracing this shift meant leaving behind the cumbersome and disconnected processes built around the deficiencies of their previous system. Rick notes, “It’s easier today than ever before. Encompass let us survive last year, and it’s letting us thrive this year.” R.H. Barringer’s success showcases how operational excellence is possible, even in tumultuous markets, when your technology system allows you to achieve ambitious goals. 

Sustaining Growth in Complex Markets

As North Carolina’s largest craft beer distributor, R.H. Barringer faces distinct complexities of operating within the control state and chain-heavy environment. Restricted access to spirits, a strong presence of small and large format chain retailers, a rural landscape, and a thriving craft beer scene creates a unique set of challenges that demand a highly adaptable distributor. 

Encompass has allowed R.H. Barringer to experiment with different delivery methods and GTM strategies while using data and productivity analysis to make informed decisions about sales, delivery, and merchandising frequency to service the accounts in their market efficiently. They can also easily adjust routes as new retailers pop up within their territory, and set controls around which products can be sold to which accounts, and how much. 

R.H. Barringer has turned the challenges of a complex market into areas of sustained growth by leveraging real-time data, eCommerce, and sales and delivery tools. This has been crucial in supporting chain requirements and managing a diverse portfolio of over 6,000 SKUs.

As 2023 was a challenging year for some distributors, many turned to portfolio diversification. Rick notes that Encompass has made this extremely easy for them, as this is not a new concept to their operation. From utilizing data to measure the success of new products to leveraging WMS to organize products into granular inventory locations for optimal picking accuracy and efficiency. 

With their large presence in North Carolina, R.H. Barringer relies on strong supplier relationships built on transparency and trust. Encompass helps them manage this complexity by offering unmatched support for managing SKUs and doesn’t restrict the number of SKUs or impose limiting rules that could hinder growth. This makes R.H. Barringer even more attractive to suppliers who value a distributor that can handle a wide variety of products and keep up with ever-changing consumer demands.

We've made a lot of smart plays. But it boils down to two really important things to me. One is, can you handle [portfolio diversification] as an organization? And number two, are you attractive to new suppliers, not just in beer, but in other areas? Encompass has let us do both those things.

Rick Craig

Co-Owner & VP, R.H. Barringer Distributing

Supplier Dynamics and Executing More Competitively

Craig emphasizes the importance of maintaining strong relationships with major suppliers like Anheuser-Busch, alongside managing a vast and growing portfolio. As an ABI-aligned solutions provider, Encompass empowers R.H. Barringer to meet compliance standards while still being able to operate in a way that aligns with their overall business strategy.

R.H. Barringer strongly advocates consolidating all their data into a single platform, gathering information from various supplier portals, and integrating it within Encompass to establish a unified source of real-time information. Handling data from multiple systems is resource-intensive and prone to expensive errors. Centralizing supplier data in Encompass empowers R.H. Barringer to effectively oversee their entire PFP and incentive program, enhancing their competitive edge with superior real-time visibility. This centralized approach is crucial for managing their portfolio comprehensively and securing long-term success.

They operate with a clear ethos: focusing on what matters most, ensuring their front-line staff remain focused on activities that drive their core business. R.H. Barringer’s adherence to efficiency doesn’t mean they compromise on performance. In fact, they consistently outpace expectations and win their fair share of incentives. Craig states, “We execute more competitively because we have a better scorecard to run our business, and that is because of Encompass.”

Major Victories Powered by Real-Time Data

The difference between good and great can often be measured in mere inches — a fact Craig knows all too well. It’s this nuanced understanding of business dynamics that underscores the fundamental role of Encompass in their operations. 

Encompass’s delivery of live, real-time data has empowered R.H. Barringer to make decisions that are timely and informed by the most current information available.

“Live data is at the core of our business,” said Craig, emphasizing the importance of R.H. Barringer’s data-driven philosophy. This isn’t just about having information; it’s about having the right information exactly when and where you need it. Craig’s philosophy is clear: “You can’t run a business with laggy data.” Real-time data from Encompass allows for market anticipation, not reaction, and aligns with Rick’s execution strategy of being agile and precise.

Craig enthusiastically highlights how this access to real-time data has allowed R.H. Barringer to achieve outstanding results in national incentive programs and meet execution targets. Real-time data is the foundation in this high-stakes environment. “And if you don’t think that matters,” Craig emphasizes, “when you come down to the wire on something like a national incentive or a regional incentive, I can tell you that the inches end up mattering.”

The speed and efficiency with which Encompass can generate insights are crucial in today’s fast-paced market. Craig recounts, “It took 10 seconds to run a report of gross margin by SKU across 4,000 SKUs,” an example of the system’s rapid capabilities. This enables the team to drill down into specifics pertinent to their particular role within seconds, transforming raw data into actionable insights.

We are a real-time data and question-driven business, not a report-driven business.

Rick Craig

Co-Owner & VP, R.H. Barringer Distributing

Another vital piece to their success is their approach to reporting that’s as straightforward as it is accessible. By ensuring that everyone on the R.H. Barringer team, as well as supplier partners, have instant access to critical data, they have turned information into power — the power to maintain efficiency and accuracy across the organization that makes every decision informed, accurate, and data-driven. 

Sharing Success and Investing In People

The strategic advantage and operational efficiency gained through Encompass have allowed R.H. Barringer to reinvest in their people. Craig proudly shares a noteworthy achievement that sets their business apart from many in the industry. “We’re still in great shape, and we owe that to Encompass, as we’re getting ready to give our non-commissioned employees raises next month, which sounds insane in today’s business environment,” Craig remarks.

This ability to offer salary increases, especially in a challenging market, is a direct testament to the efficiencies and savings driven by their strategic use of Encompass. The platform has enabled R.H. Barringer to navigate a challenging market successfully and maintain a strong financial position. It’s a clear indication that the company doesn’t just prioritize profit but values its people. 


R.H. Barringer Distributing's success story is a testament to the power of their strategic partnership with Encompass and a commitment to innovation and efficiency. By fully leveraging the Encompass system from end to end, R.H. Barringer has not only met the unique challenges of their market but has also set new standards in operational efficiency, supplier relations, business growth, and employee satisfaction. For owners, founders, and leaders of distribution companies, R.H. Barringer's journey with Encompass offers valuable insights into the transformative impact of the right technology partner on a business's potential to thrive in a highly competitive industry.

There has never been a better time to switch to Encompass. In the past year alone, 39 wholesalers, totaling 154 warehouses went live with Encompass showcasing not just capability but trust within the industry of leading modern, comprehensive solutions. Wholesalers that partner with Encompass gain more than just new technology; they gain a team dedicated to helping businesses reach new heights of success.

Get in touch with us today to see how we can help future-proof your business.

(970)449-8000 | EncompassTech.com

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