The independent drinks industry has lost one of its great champions, Greg Pullen, who passed away this week. Pullen was general manager of Samuel Smith & Son and retired in 2015 after almost 30 years of service to the family-owned company.
Pullen joined Samuel Smith & Son’s Victorian team in December 1986 as sales manager, before being promoted to Victorian state manager in 1988. He moved to Sydney to take on the NSW state manager role in 1992 and took over the business at a national level in 1998. He pulled back into the role of NSW general manager in 2012.
Samuel Smith & Son’s Robert Hill-Smith noted when Pullen retired: “Greg Pullen has been a successful and unswervingly loyal contributor through his various senior roles in the Samuel Smith & Son commercial network.
“We shall miss him greatly. Greg has been a fabulous and tireless ambassador for our company and made friends at all levels of the wine trade.
“He has many stories to relate from his days in the trade and also on tour with them. He locked horns with the best of them on negotiations based on principle and came out smiling.”
Pullen’s contribution to Samuel Smith & Son was further recognised when he was announced as a Signatory of the 2005 vintage. Each vintage release of Yalumba The Signature acknowledges the skills and service of people close to the Hill-Smith family.
The tribute to Greg Pullen on the label finishes with a quote from Aung San Suu Kyi: “Where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated, they are valued.”
Former Drinks Association CEO Sandra Przibilla said Pullen was a “terrific mate and wonderful friend”.
She added: “A great loss to us all. A toast to you my friend. Your signature wine is drinking well.”
Upon his retirement, Pullen said the highlights of his career had been the opportunity to travel the world and also to “work with so many fantastic independent retailers”.
“During my career I have seen the absolute best of the wine industry. I’m now greatly concerned about the shrinkage of independent ownership within the wine sector,” he noted.
Former Alcohol Beverages Australia Chairman Giuseppe Minissale described Pullen as a “great friend of the independent liquor market”.
Among others who paid tribute to Pullen was Duncan MacDonald, General Manager at Thorn-Clarke Wines, who said he was “a great mentor during my time with Smith’s & Negs in Sydney”.
Michael Every, Director at Vision Wine Partners said Pullen was “a true legend of the industry”.