A number of years ago, during a transition period in my career within the beer industry, my wife remarked that this profession seemed quite volatile and perhaps not the most secure place to build a career. She had a good point. A mental review of my life in the beer industry, and the companies in which I was involved, revealed a great deal of change.
Willowbrook (Coors in Dallas) – Sold to Barry Andrews and is now a part of Andrews Distributing.
Bridges Distributing (Falstaff in Austin) – Sold years ago.
Lone Star Brewing Co. – Sold a number of times but is now part of Pabst Brewing Co., a virtual brewery.
Mid-State Beer of Alexandria, La. – One of the largest Schlitz distributors and part of Shreveport Beverage, sold out to Glazer’s years ago along with their liquor/wine house.
Orbit Corporation (Coors NE of San Antonio) – One of four San Antonio Coors distributors who, over the years, sold 13 times and is now a part of Glazer’s Beer Co.
Coors of Kansas, Inc. – Once one of the largest Coors distributors in the U.S, sold to Larry Fleming and still, after 38 years, is part of LDF.
Texas Beers Inc. – The seventh largest Schlitz distributor in the U.S., and also a Pabst, Pearl and import house, sold at least three times and is now a part of Glazer’s Beer Co.
Coors Brewing Co. – Now MolsonCoors. Enough said.
Coast Distributors – One of the largest volume distributors in the late 1980s, was sold after 100 years of ownership to Dick Lytle and became Mt. Hood Beverage, which later became part of Columbia.
Texas Brewing Co. – Lasted only one year.
The Gambrinus Co. – Still around, minus the Modelo Products.
Glazer’s – Now named Southern Glazer’s, but without the beer. The Glazer family still owns the beer division.
Warsteiner Importers – Still around, but hanging by a thread
Krombacher U.S.A. – I have no idea.
Without knowledge of how the beer industry works, someone outside the business would recognize the uncertainty of a career in beer. A number of the above companies, Schlitz for example, were victims of a lack of leadership, while other companies were simply in existence during a time when the brand struggled to find a market. The Coors operation in South Texas is a perfect example of a company who struggled to find a market. For some, it was all about the money, as was the case with Coast Distributors in Oregon. Although for others, their failure was a result of poor decision making which cost the company any chance of success.
It seems every week an industry pub announces another brewery has been sold, joined a holding company, merged, or closed their doors, just like the companies noted in this post. This could mean that the instability of the past, is the reality for the current model and we should expect such instability to continue into the future. So the question should be: Is instability the nature of the beer industry? From the outsider’s perspective, it clearly is!
The older you get…the better you were….