The stories coming out of Florida and the deep southeast following the devastation that Hurricane Irma caused, are similar to those from Texas and Louisiana following Hurricane Harvey. Help is pouring in from all over the world and stories of people helping each other are populating the news.
What you are not going to hear about in the main stream media, however, is how the beer industry continues to do what it does best, help their local community in any way possible. One such beer distributor, who will remain nameless for the purpose of this blog, exemplifies this philosophy of helping.
A distributor in a mid-size Florida market had, some years ago, built a hurricane-resistant warehouse that could withstand 150 mph winds complete with windows built to withstand 125 mph winds. When Irma hit, he had approximately 100 people and 20 pets (dogs, cats, etc.) sheltered in his building. A building which did not sustained any damage, with the exception of minor damage to the fence around the building’s perimeter and some trees being affected.
And this is where the story becomes even more interesting. In this particular distributor’s market, there are five small, local crafts, all struggling to survive by dividing between themselves; the volume lost from the major crafts. These little breweries could not expand their footprint without the resources necessary. During the hurricane, one brewery, who lost all power, called our hero distributor, desperate for help. It seems this small craft brewery had $15K worth of keg inventory which would go bad without refrigeration. Our hero agreed to store the keg inventory for this small brewer, and even sent trucks to pick up the beer, virtually saving the brewery from the potential ruin that Harvey would have caused.
Another local brewer, who also lost power, had $300K of beer in their tanks and no generator. They called the same distributor who, fortunately, had a commercial generator, and again, asked our hero distributor for help. The generator was sent, on the distributor’s truck, complete with the distributor’s own electrician, to set up the generator and ensure this small brewer was going to be ok. The owner walked out of the brewery with a set of jumper cables! I bet that was a sight! The electrician was able to set up the generator and save the liquid.
Not too far from this Florida town is another very successful brewer who self distributes. This brewer, long known for its dislike of distributors, was also able to shelter a number of people in his building, but this brewer ran out of fresh water. Knowing that our hero distributor had an inventory of bottled fresh water, the brewer called asking for help. Without hesitation our man again saved the day and sent over his truck with four pallets of water.
Finally, the most amazing event is that in the city where this distributor is located, the city morgue called him asking for aid! The city had no power and needed refrigeration for their corpuses. The distributor sent over an old, but workable, draft truck which the city used to store the recently deceased! Once the power was restored, the distributor thought it would be best to sell the truck.
No doubt the beer industry will continue to have its issues. If, however, there comes a time when the middle tier goes away, it will not be the beer industry that suffers, it will be the local community that will lose. Distributors are the backbone to their community, and in a disaster; it is often the beer distributors that are the community heroes.
I say, find one true friend that will help you get through the tough times…