Many of the articles written in this blog over the past three years have highlighted true stories of individuals whose self-centeredness or lack of integrity negatively affected the lives of others. These stories have been episodic in that they included wholesalers, brewery executives, retailers and others in the beer industry. Many stories focused on the aftermath of what happened to those affected by the repercussions of such self-centered individuals.
Perhaps it is due to social media, or the increased number of new breweries and individuals migrating into the beer industry. Maybe it is simply human nature. But it seems more and more stories of this nature have surfaced in recent years. Regardless of the reason, the negative results of such behavior have far reaching effect on others.
In a conversation with an ABI distributor late last fall, he told of the difficulty he was having in getting and holding tap handles. With all the new craft brewers around, and all the young feet on the street, the war at the retail level has gotten out of hand. The pay-to-play mentality is everywhere. The argument is no longer about the beer itself, but about how much, or what will it require, to get my beer on tap.
Consider that this individual’s story came from a long established ABI house that has lost business and handles to breweries that violated state and federal laws. It is not a question of wither or not pay-to-play ought to be legal, it is not legal, therefore the law should be abided by all. Unfortunately, the integrity to follow the law is lacking in this case and countless others cases across the country.
Another disturbing story which is still being litigated, involves a state alcoholic director who was fired for alleged sexual harassment of an employee. At his own expense the director fought back and was recently vindicated with the accuser admitting she had lied under oath. More details will come out over the year, but a beer company is involved in this messy story and it will not be pretty.
Most of us have been negatively affected in one way or another when the rule of integrity is pushed aside. This includes me. I had made the decision to join Krombacher based on the brewery’s commitment to me and the U.S. market. Now looking back, in my opinion, the brewery had no intention of keeping their commitment which they terminated in 2012.
I feel their plan was to become established and educated in regards to the US market and then move forward without those who assisted in this task. I feel they were deceitful in their dealing with me, and I regret joining them, but ultimately that decision to do so was mine and mine alone. What is greatly disturbing, however, is that a number of highly qualified beer people joined the team based not only on the potential of success and challenge of building this brand, but because these individuals had confidence in my abilities to make Krombacher a successful band in the U.S. All were fired.
Now over two years later, all five of us have had a difficult, if not impossible time, finding employment. Many have been forced to take positions earning substantially less than they were accustomed. It goes without saying; this has been a difficult time for all.
The beer industry has been, and will continue to change. The reality is it makes no difference whether it is Krombacher or a wholesaler, an executive, a retailer or an employee, what is missing more than ever is integrity. Without integrity the beer industry is lacking. There is no higher value in our society than integrity.