Fifty percent of my career in the beer industry has been working with or selling Coors in one way or another. Initially, as a helper on a Coors truck in Dallas while in college, to stints at the brewery in Distributor Development, running the Coors branch in Ogden, Utah, to leading three Coors distributorships. These distributors had market shares ranging from as high as 61% in Kansas to 13% in San Antonio while experiencing unprecedented growth. Both Coast in Oregon, and Coors of Kansas, were top 10 volume distributors selling millions of cases annually.
I was involved with Coors in expansion markets, Coors Light test markets, overseeing financially troubled Coors distributors, and buying Coors operations. On a couple of occasions, I even helped, and testified for, Coors brewery in court cases. During these years I worked with Mel Lynn, Richard Franklin, Frank Spinosa, and Leo Kiely and even Pete Coors. My time spent with Coors, in addition to my years at Warsteiner, were personally very rewarding.
One can argue that Coors has gone through even more changes in these past decades than ABI. Remember, many years ago, Coors and Schlitz tried to combine, only to be rejected by the government. Finally, there was the Molson fit, that combined two family-owned companies with similar cultures and a long successful history. This was followed by the SABMiller JV which happened for reasons that today seem to have been somewhat premature, or in some circles, even unnecessary. With the ABI acquisition of SABMiller, MolsonCoors is back where they began, now with the Miller portfolio included.
Wall Street is coming out with their recommendations, mostly with a buy rating for TAPS. They see this new company as a very good investment, with some pundits seeing cost savings from $400 million to as high as $900+ million. These numbers make one question. If these savings are there, why did MillerCoors not act on them?
No doubt, the company will restructure, and announce millions in savings, but most inevitably, the sales department will also restructure. The new MillerCoors will be either a decentralized model or a centralized model. Decisions will be made in the field or at corporate. Take a pick. More feet on the street and/or more chain effort. It will be nothing we have not heard or seen before. Same song, different verse.
What will change, and what will change for the best, will be the company culture. How that change translates to performance will dictate the future of this company. There will, again, be changes in ad agencies. Considering that there have been five different agencies for Miller Lite in the past five years, how can any brand get traction when there is a new theme every year? Now, however, with this new company, expect to see some consistency in Lite marketing. Finally.
Given the ABI model, and ABI’s performance history, MolsonCoors is in a position to become the leader in the US if, and only if, they stop operating like ABI and operate like MolsonCoors. It very well could be their best and last chance.
Only you can control your future….