Synonymous with Service and Quality
Empire Merchants North was forged in February 2007 from the merging of Colony Liquors and Service Liquors, 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 its decades of experience into a bright future.
With state-of-the-art facilities and a dedicated team of over 700 knowledgeable and well-equipped associates, 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.
Empire Merchants North LLC acts as a marketing agent for the brands that we represent and is proud to employ the most knowledgeable and well-equipped sales force in Upstate New York.
The vision of Empire Merchants North LLC is to be the premier distributor of wines and spirits to our suppliers, customers, associates, industry, and community.
President/Chief Executive Officer
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 has served as executive general manager, building and leading the Atlantic Division at Empire Merchants Metro for the past decade prior to being appointed as CEO of Empire Merchants North LLC in April 2015. John is a graduate of Harvard University and is married (Ellen) with four children (Liam, Mae, Gwyn, and Tanner).
Chief Operating Officer
Patrick Arlantico joined Colony Liquor & Wine in 2002, holding various management positions while working extensively with such major suppliers 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. Patrick and his wife reside in Kingston, New York.
Carlos A. Ferrandiz
Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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. Carlos and his wife Mary Lou have two children, Sara and Joseph.
Carol G. Brown
Executive Director of Human Resources
Carol G. Brown is the executive director of human resources at Empire Merchants North LLC. 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 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 HR, Carol also oversees all safety-related functions for Empire Merchants North LLC. Carol received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Lycoming College. Carol, her husband and children reside in Syracuse, New York.
Director of State Warehouse Operations
Anthony (Tony) Amalfitano serves as the director of operations for Empire Merchants North LLC. Tony is a 33-year veteran of the wine and spirits industry, having advanced through the ranks of Colony Liquor & Wine in day and night warehouse and distribution. He has held multiple distribution-center management positions for over 11 years before being selected for his current role. He currently oversees operations associates, inbound receiving, outbound shipping, distribution, and operations execution for customer satisfaction, as well as building and real estate management. Tony received an Associate’s Degree from SUNY Cobleskill. He and his wife Larraine have two children, Sarah and Jon.
Sales Division Leadership
General Manager, Royal Division
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 LLC. He currently resides in Albany, New York, where he is very active in the local running community. Joe is passionate about human rights for the LGBT community and is an active volunteer and donor to the Pride Center of the Capital District, GLESEN and the Alliance for Positive Health. 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, Imperial Division
Timothy J. Cullen, general manager of the Imperial Division at Empire Merchants North LLC, 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 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 with The Charmer Sunbelt Group. Tim currently resides in Albany, New York with his wife Jennifer. They have one son, Jack, who recently graduated from Hofstra University and resides in Brooklyn.
General Manager, Phoenix Division
Mike Lynch is the general manager of the Phoenix Division of Empire Merchants North LLC. 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 Distributors 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. Mike graduated from Empire State College, State University of New York, with a Bachelor of Science degree in business management.
General Manager, United Division
Keith Poole is the general manager of the United Division at Empire Merchants North LLC. 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 Distributors 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. He and his wife Alicia have two children, Darrian and Zander.