Decades ago, beer wholesaler warehouses came in all sizes and shapes. The Coors warehouse in Dallas, where I worked in the summers during college, was a building not specifically designed to be a beer warehouse, but it was new and had recently been modified for Coors. The volume at that time was under a million cases, yet the building was complete with a hospitality room, locker rooms, an open area for supervisors, and some executive offices. Trucks were loaded in-doors and, of course, there was a refrigerated warehouse for the beer.
The Falstaff warehouse in Austin was in a very old building with a small office area and the trucks were loaded by hand just outside the building. In Oklahoma, a Schlitz operation was located in an old railroad station and some small Lone Star operations were located in barns. The most modern beer operations in those days were the Schlitz warehouses because of Schlitz’s dominance. The warehouses were designed for beer and many had been built within that decade. Most of the warehouses had the same design, small offices, a meeting room, a check-in area, inside loading, and warehousing. Many new warehouses had added storage for p-o-s and draft equipment.
Once Miller Lite became dominate, the Miller wholesalers followed suit with new and updated warehousing. Previously drivers had safes in their trucks and would unlock their safe and deposit their money in can trays and proceed into the check-in area to reconcile their daily sales. The newer warehouses designed by AB, Miller and Coors now provide their drivers with securely locked check-in offices.
Old, established breweries such as Schlitz, Bud, Pabst and Miller all had a similar look and feel. They all had a castle-like appearance, built with bricks, as this was popular during the 1800s. The executive offices of Schlitz’s corporate headquarters in Milwaukee were dark, walnut paneled, with heavy thick carpet. Executives were dressed in suits and all had administrative staff. The personification of the corporate world at that time. Visiting both Schlitz and Pabst corporate offices, one found that security was focused only on deliveries to the brewery. Basically, what was coming into the brewery and what was leaving, and that was it.
At Coors Brewery in the 80s, we were issued ID cards which opened the front doors and operated the elevators. Perhaps the most secure operation was West Coast Beverage, Coors and Pabst operation located in the Watts area of Los Angeles. The operation was inside a compound, surrounded by a 15-foot-tall brick wall with barbwire and managed by guards located in a drive-in guard house. Only employees of that warehouse were allowed in the offices.
New warehouses and breweries years have extremely tight security with electronic passes at every door and access to all areas is limited to a few employees. With the addition of security cameras and security guards patrolling the grounds, one feels quite secure.
The recent horrific shooting at MolsonCoors in Milwaukee illustrates that not even top level security can guarantee one’s safety. Rest assured that MolsonCoors, along with many other beer companies, will review their security and procedures…perhaps the one good thing to come from this tragedy.
The industry is rallying behind MolsonCoors with financial support through GoFundMe me and other means. Over 1.1 Million has been raised so far. That is what makes this industry great, the beer people are there for each other when needed.
There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.