My first day on a beer truck delivering Coors while a college student, was on a route that serviced a lake area outside of Dallas. Because all beer was DSD at that time, we took two trucks loaded with beer. The route salesman, a full time helper, and I were the only staff needed. We left the warehouse around 6:30 am and returned after 7 that night with two empty trucks. I was so tired I slept in my uniform, got up the next morning, and did it all over again.
That day I was given a downtown route. The truck was loaded with returnable bottles and my job was to empty a pallet of bottles and re-stack it with empties. Not the same as the lake route, but equally as hard physically. We finished that Friday just before five pm. I was just as tired on this route as I was on the lake route.
As the years went by, and the beer industry changed, what has never changed is the fact that the industry is not, a 40-hour a week job. It does not matter what tier we examine. All three require hours of work and a commitment unlike most other industries. It does not matter if you work at a brewery, in a distributorship or as an importer, these positions all require long hours, hard deadlines, and working many weekends and holidays.
Recently, when visiting with the Director of Operations for a large and successful MC operation, he mentioned that his real issue was finding employees who were willing to work the long hours required. This same frustration was the number one issue that resulted from last summer’s survey of crafts, importers, brewers, importers and industry headhunters when asked for their input on the skill sets of employees.
When running Warsteiner’s U.S. operation, the company needed to employ experienced individuals with multi-level skills. We did not have a budget for hiring young entry-level people. Diverse experience and a strong work ethic were the major keys we required when hiring.
Many colleges today have programs to educate individuals in the beer/wine/spirits industry and have focused on instructors from all parts of the industry. Teaching and providing the needed skills for these students is very doable. What cannot be taught, however, is the commitment and work ethic the industry requires.
The question becomes, will the industry change, or will the individual change to fit the historic industry profile? Do those retiring expect new employees to adapt to the previous work ethic, or should the industry change to adapt to the skills and work ethic of the incoming crop of employees? The beer industry is changing, and changing quickly due to the craft segment’s growth, but the dynamics of the industry are slow to adapt. The millennial will change this, too.
I don’t have a work ethic, I have a real casual relationship with hours!