I think the first time I met George Henricksen was while I was working at Glazer’s. At the time, George was running Royal Imports out of Cincinnati. Royal was the US importer of Mackenson and Whitbread beers, both owned by InBev. Royal had a 10 year agreement to import those two excellent beers. George, who managed Royal through independent brokers, sans full time employees, had built the company’s annual sales to approximately 300,000 cases. George and Dallas broker, Dick Barron, worked with Glazer’s to establish these brands in Texas.
When I took the CEO position at Warsteiner’s US, whose headquarters are in Cincinnati, I made it a point to get together with George for dinner when I was in town. It did not matter where we went, we could not walk five feet in downtown Cincinnati without someone stopping George and saying hello. George knew everyone! In a bar, same thing! He knew everyone from the receptionist to the bartender to every customer. It was amazing!
George spent many years with Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Co. selling Little Kings. One of Little Kings biggest markets was Denver, where George lived. The distributor at that time was Murray Brothers. George and several other vendors including Warsteiner, Labatts, and Barton started a club called the “Under Five Club.” The Club was made up of those vendors who had a market share of less than five percent. All of these vendors coordinated their individual annual promotions, incentives, and special event calendars into one joint calendar which allowed each vendor to promote their respective products without overlapping the promotions of another. Using this technique, the vendors enabled Murray to focus on their programs without competition with other in-house vendors. Obviously, Murray loved this cooperation between vendors. The Under Five Club also worked together and split costs on generic p-o-s items like wooden racks which could be used by any of these vendors during their programs. The top 50 liquor stores all had wooden racks shared by the same vendors.
This cooperation extended to the on- premise with draft accounts and handles. The vendors supported each other and helped with on premise promos or pub crawls as they worked together in the top 25 on- premise accounts. It would be hard to find a similar type of relationship in today’s beer environment.
George’s beer career, which spanned decades with Little Kings and Royal, led him to work in 49 states across the US. And just like in Cincinnati, George knew almost every distributor. George, with the help of a small broker network had built Royal into a several hundred thousand case importer. When the agreement with InBev expired, however, InBev did not renew his contract.
George has since retired and now spends much of his time with his daughter and granddaughter in Florida fishing and golfing. As a beer salesman, George really believed that “making friends is our business” and he always made sure he knew everyone’s name. With his distinctive, one-0f-a-kind gruff voice, you knew immediately when George was around!
I never met anyone in the beer business who did not like George Henricksen. In fact, I never met anyone anywhere who did not like George, or as I prefer to call him, The Cincinnati Kid.
BBU Honor Roll;
2013 – George Henricksen – Royal Imports
2012 – Diane Fall – Warsteiner
THIS IS THE LAST POST OF 2013. NEXT ONE WILL BE JANUARY 7, 2014. HAVE A GREAT CHRISTSMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!