Every year during the week of July 4th I am reminded of my time, many years ago, on a Coors beer truck. Working as a college helper during the summer months, the week leading up to the 4th was always the biggest and largest week of the year.
We had one brand and five SKUs. These were the days of driver sales only, as there were yet no pre-sales. The drivers got paid straight commission per case. The company also employed a number of full-time assistances who also rode the trucks and were paid a small base, plus a commission, on what was sold. As part-time college help, we were paid by the hour, and the week of the 4th was by far the time period that we clocked the most hours.
Around July 1st, the drivers started building inventory in all off-premise accounts in preparation for the holiday. The inventory build was in proportion to the day on which the 4th fell. If July 4th was on a weekend, then the build was huge. Obviously, if it fell on a Monday or Tuesday, the build was usually a little smaller.
We did not have the 4th off unless it fell on a Sunday. July 4th was a regular work day. We would leave the warehouse around 6:15 am with a full truck. Our uniforms consisted of a white shirt, grey slacks, and heavy black work shoes. Depending on the route, it was not unusual to have emptied the truck within a couple of hours. Sometimes it was at the first stop where the account would buy the entire truck load of beer.
If this was the case, we would have to unload the truck, than the driver would go back into the warehouse and reload while we would wheel all the beer into the cooler and rotate the stock. Somehow as we wheeled in the last stack of beer, up pulled the driver with yet another full load and off we would go to the next stop.
Eventually we would finish the day’s route, handle any call-ins, and then reload for the third time, and go back out to the largest accounts again. These accounts would have sold almost half of what we delivered earlier so we would refill inventory again on the same day.
Finally, the day would end and we would head back to the warehouse, usually around 10 pm. Our uniforms were covered in dirt and our white shirts black with sweat. We were exhausted and hungry and knew that we would have to be back the next morning unless the 5th fell on a Sunday.
All these years later, I still think of these times on the beer trucks with fond memories. To me, begin a helper was the second best job in the beer industry. It was truly satisfying work.
As we celebrate the 4th of July this weekend let’s also remember those in the beer industry who are working their tails off to ensure great beer gets to the consumer. Thank you for your hard work! You are the legs of the industry and on the 4th; we will toast to your commitment and dedication! Happy 4th of July y’all!