President at Skurnik Wines and Spirits
Harmon is President of Skurnik Wines and Spirits, an importer and distributor of fine wines and spirits headquartered in the heart of New York City. This 33-year-old independent family business was established with just a handful of relatively unknown wine estates and has since grown to represent over 500 wineries and distilleries worldwide. Skurnik today is a national importer in all 50 U.S. states, with direct wholesale operations as well, in 8 states: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.
Harmon has been with the company since 1989, after a 10-year career in advertising, in which he helped build marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Pepsi, and Xerox. This helped shape who he became, and many wineries have come to rely on Harmon’s advice, based on his diverse marketing background. Harmon’s partner in the business is his brother Michael, who founded the company in 1987, and in the past decade, both of Harmon’s children, David and Erica have joined the firm as well, and they are both intimately involved in company management.
More recently, Harmon has become an active voice in the industry’s fight against tariffs, serving as a board member for the United States Wine Trade Alliance, a lobbying group of American importers, wholesalers, restaurant operators, and retailers, whose sole mission is to eliminate all tariffs on imported wines and spirits. As such, he is well informed about the latest trade disputes and ongoing negotiations between the US and the EU.
"The Future of American Tariffs: A Trump Phenomenon or Here To Stay?"
Skurnik has been importing wines and spirits from the EU for 33 years, and not once were tariffs considered a serious threat until last year. Now, with the Trump Administration initiating trade wars all over the globe, the threat to EU wine and spirits producers is very real, as evidenced by the October 2019 imposition of a 25% tariff on Spanish, French and German wines, based on the so-called Airbus dispute. Going forward, additional tariff threats loom, due mainly to the Digital Services Taxes being proposed throughout the EU, which the US government calls “discriminatory against US companies”. This situation threatens to bring about new tariffs of up to 100% on wines and spirits throughout Europe, and this time, on Italian wines as well. As a founding board member of the United States Wine Trade Alliance, a trade group doing everything in their power to avoid new tariffs and remove current ones, Harmon is well-equipped to give you the latest updates on this fraught situation, including what the tariff landscape will look like in 2021 and beyond.