Nov 052019

Last week it was announced that the boutique wine, spirit, and beer company, Artisanal Beverage Distributor, is being acquired by Ben E. Keith in Dallas. The small, successful portfolio of Artisanal will ensure BEK’s ability to build their new spirit division in the distributor’s non-AB footprint markets across the state of Texas. 

Artisanal Beverage was founded by long-time industry veterans, Mark Monfrey and Jeff Daniels just five years ago. Prior to owning Artisanal Beverage, both Jeff and Mark worked together as beer importers. Mark’s uncle, the legendary John Monfrey of San Antonio, was one of the largest Falstaff Distributors of his time.  Monfrey was also employed with Miller Brewing and Molson. Prior to the creation of Artisanal Beverage, Mark had been employed with Pyramid Brewing, but in an effort to cost-cut, Pyramid moved Mark from the role of employee to that of consulting; a realignment which subsequently started Mark on the road to creating his own consulting and importing company.

Jeff Daniels was a longtime employee of Glazer’s and eventually assumed the role of state beer manager. Like Mark, Jeff found upward mobility at Glazer’s to difficult and made the life-changing decision to join Mark in the consulting and importing business. Not a bad move for two dispatched managers.

The story of Mark and Jeff is not uncommon in the beer industry, as there are many with similar accounts. “Sam,” a seasoned sales manager for Glazer’s in El Paso was also dismissed from the company. He was soon discovered by a German beer importer and excelled in his work with chains, a move which did not go unnoticed by Republic National. “Sam’s” love of the wine industry led him to accept a position with Republic where he now holds the title of Senior Vice President and he is a key member of management.

After a successful stint selling wines with Republic, “Sue” made the transition to Glazer’s as a member of their beer selling team.  She later transition into Glazer’s training division, but soon thereafter, hit the glass ceiling,  Upon leaving Glazer’s,  “Sue” joined an eclectic training company, accelerated their program to new heights, and purchased the business.   She built the establishment into a training powerhouse with renowned corporate clients including Ford, Target, American Airlines, and AT&T.  “Sue’s” business continues to be highly successful today.

The professional stories of these four individuals have one factor in common: companies who will not, or cannot, identify their employees’ skill sets and talent, lose them and the talented individuals move on to become highly successful in their chosen fields.

Booming brands can cover up a company’s lack of talent and leadership, however, when said brands begin to slide, the leadership gaps surface. Mark, Jeff, Sam, and Sue, had they been given the opportunity at Glazer’s or Pyramid, could have made a difference. Unfortunately for their former employers, it did not happen.  The irony of the story is that none of these individuals looked back; they are not bitter at their previous companies, in fact, they are grateful. If they had not been treated in the way they were, the four may not have become the success stories they are today.  

Motivation will always beat mere talent. 

 Posted by at 5:00 am

  2 Responses to “Motivation will always beat mere talent.”

  1. The same can be said for a certain Global brewer. The US opco ceo three tenures ago was appointed when the US opco was in bad shape. He successfully turned the entire company around and brought the brewer back to prominence with an incredible employee culture. In fact, he did so well he got a huge promotion to another region of the world.

    His replacement (a native countryman from HQ) was equally arrogant and in waaay over his head – a deadly combination. His tenure lead to more than 1/3 of the employees with the exact same story as you described, Geoff. Indeed, at the time, most people that got pushed out were bitter. However, as time passed, they became grateful for getting the nudge to abandon the sinking ship and to find their true calling and passion. A “blessing in disguise” without a doubt! As the months passed this ceo had done so much irreparable damage that he was finally “called back to the mothership” and forced to leave the US opco.

    The end of the story is that the current ceo came in and cleaned house of anyone that hadn’t already left under the previous ceo – a “clean slate” approach but also a last ditch effort to save the opco before HQ shutters it and merely assigns importation and distribution rights to an importer. While it may sound appropriate to bring in a fresh crew, the new people brought in were either US CPG professionals or Internationals from other brewery opcos. The common denominator – none of them have US three tier experience or know how to navigate the world’s most complicated beer market. The end result has been abundantly clear in the last 12 months of sales figures with trends continuing for the foreseeable future.

    You always sign off with a catchy tagline, Geoff. I’ll try to do the same:

    Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

  2. Congratulations to Mark and Jeff well deserved
    Cheers bobo

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