By the mid 70’s, due to the continued success of the brand, Coors Brewing Company’s expansion into the southern half of Texas focused on two key must haves. One must have, was naming wholesalers who were either sports idols, political icons or other famous people within the brewery’s major markets. The other must have, was to ensure all of the brewery’s wholesalers would attain the volume necessary so as not to cause a problem for Coors. The Dallas distributor, in the 70’s, sold three percent of Coors’ total business. Coors appointed five wholesalers in the Houston area, and four wholesalers in San Antonio.
All the newly awarded wholesalers in South Texas were startups that distributed only Coors. The distributorships were awarded the brand in the summer of 1975, with the opening projected to be in 1976. Some appointed wholesalers included: Bob Lily in Waco and Roy Butler, the former major of Austin.
There were four wholesalers appointed in San Antonio, one of whom was Charles M. Duke, Jr. the 10th man to walk on the moon. Charlie, at that time, was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, having been educated at the U.S. Naval Academy, MIT and eventually joined NASA as an astronaut. Prior to becoming an astronaut, Charlie was a fighter pilot, stationed around the world. Charlie and his partner, Richard Boushka, had originally applied for the Austin market, but when offered the northeast San Antonio market, Charlie agreed.
Charlie Stidham, who had been awarded the Coors Southwest San Antonio market, recommended that I join Charlie Duke’s team and run the operation. I soon joined Duke’s team as VP of Sales. Charlie had no beer industry experience, and really no business background, but during his tenure as the Coors Northeast Distributor, Charlie’s celebrity status attracted a multitude of visitors ranging from movie stars, athletes, astronauts and politicians The hospitality room, a common feature of distributors in the 70’s, held a multitude of famous individuals all coming to meet the 10th man to walk on the moon.
We were once visited by Tommy Nobis, the linebacker from the Atlanta Falcons, who grew up in San Antonio and had gone to The University of Texas. Nobis had just retired from pro football and wanted a public relationship job with Charlie’s distributorship. Charlie considered bringing Tommy on until I said that I thought Charlie, himself, was our PR person, which is what Charlie was!
Once we opened the business and settled in with a 13% share of market, Charlie seemed to drift away. I always wondered if someone as accomplished as Charlie could be challenged by running a small Coors distributorship. I felt that someone with a resume as outstanding as his would have been bored.
Coors Northeast did well, and we were awarded the highest grade Coors had given to any start-up operation at that point. The company was always profitable. That being said, after only two years, Charles sold the business to the Azar family of El Paso in the spring of 1978.
Charlie continued on in the Air Force Reserves and eventually retired as a general. He started a speaking career and was heavily involved in the church. He and his wife, Dottie, have lived in New Braunfels since their Coors days.
The moon man…
2017 – Charles M. Duke, Jr. – Coors Distributor
2016 – Carter S. Huber – Schlitz/Miller
2015 – Albert Jaenicke – Hops
2014 – R.D. Hubbard – Coors Distributor
2013 – George Henricksen – Royal Imports
2012 – Diane Fall – Warsteiner
THIS IS THE LAST POST OF 2017. I WISH EACH OF YOU A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS. NEXT POST WILL BE ON JANUARY 2, 2018.