Any time the name Sam Filler was mentioned, and it was mentioned many times, the owners would begin to clap, whistle, and generally exclaim like I have never seen before. It was like a casino full of armed bandit types with their cups full of quarters all hit the jackpot at the same time! Near bedlam! What makes a bunch of cranky business owners cheer for an Albany state government representative at 10 o'clock in the morning? He's not giving away money. He can't even make a parking ticket go away. Who is this guy?!
He Sam Filler! The answer man!
Samuel Filler currently leads Governor Cuomo’s Craft Beverage Initiative at Empire State Development. Samuel served as the Director of Programs for the Transportation and Land Use Collaborative (TLUC), an urban planning consulting firm in Southern California that specialized in stakeholder engagement in Latino communities. He was also selected to be a Coro Fellow in Southern California and an Americorps member with City Year. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Vassar College, and a Master of Urban Planning from the
NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.
This was greeted with skepticism by the usual congregation when it was first announced last October. And Gov. Cuomo promised the faithful, if they got word from Sam, they could act on it. And if it turned out Sam and forwarded the incorrect information the NYSLA and the state would not hold the beverage producer liable in any way. When this new announcement was made last week? Nothing but applause!
As both an industry watcher, and as a winery owner, Sam Filler is in fact "The Answer Man!" in the fullest sense of the word. You call up with a question, and if he doesn't know the answer, he gets your number, gets an answer, and calls you back. Done! It's fantastic! It's no more, "You'll have to read the rules and regs to find that out. Please consult your NYSLA handbook. Thank you." It's now real, live answers. And they are fast and you can rely on them!
He's an answer to a business owner's prayers.
You getting the idea? Wait....there's more! He's become something of a star in his own right. As a member of the Economic Development team, he's out there not only answering questions, but promoting the industry as well!
In September 2013, he attended a Farm Brewery and Cidery Start-up Workshop at Cornell Extension as well.
In November 2013 he was a panelist at the American Farmland Trust discussion on Harvesting Opportunities for wines, beers, spirits, and ciders in New York state. Again he provided answers and shared examples of what others were doing in the industry.
He even appeared on WAMC radio in December 2013, promoting the cider industry. Filler explained that farm brewing, distilling, winemaking and cidermaking (especially in this instance) is all part of a larger plan to aid New York agriculture through an emphasis on the products that can be made from crops.
“As an Orchard, instead of selling just raw apples, you can take them and turn them into a vodka, or turn them into a brandy, or turn them into a hard cider, and get even more value out of them,” Filler said.
In February 2014 he stopped by the famed Jimmy Carbone's radio show. Jimmy Carbone discussed the state of beer in New York State! Jimmy was joined in the studio by the Beer Czar of New York, Sam Filler. Carbone talked with Sam and how he helps facilitate local beer production using regional grains and hops.
He's so in demand he's been on conference calls regarding industry meetings with Economic Development concerning our industries with Virginia business leaders (just this past February) looking to hear his insights, thoughts, and answers.
But the real proof in the value of Sam Filler goes back to that applause. When you've got this crowd that excited, you've done something really right. Conversations and comments from the back of the room included, things like... "Great guy!"..."They better never let that kid go!"..."Straight shooter"..."Best thing that ever happened to us!"
Now, we all know that it's NYSLA Chairman Rosen and his lieutenant Tom Donahue, that back up Filler and make him so valuable. And that they are the real power behind the curtain so to speak. But it is also a testament to their cooperation with Governor Cuomo that Sam's job exists at all. And a sign of the fundamental changes going on over at the NYSLA.
That said, you need a smart, reliable, straight forward person on the end of the line who people can count on and know as sound and responsible. That's Sam Filler.
THAT's why he's so popular!