Dec 172019

The interview process I experienced during the late 1980s for the general manager’s position at Coast Distributors was definitely unique. Although I spent the majority of the interview time with owner of Coast, I also had dinner with the GM’s three director reports:  the Director of Operations, the CFO, the Director of Sales, Jim Cline.  I was offered the GM position and accepted it in early 1988. 

Shortly before accepting the GM position, Coast had been awarded distribution rights to Coors in all six of their Oregon houses. At the time, they were the largest Pabst distributor in the country. Hamm’s was their number one brand and the best selling beer in Oregon. Coast also had a multitude of other imports including: Modelo, Heineken (in some markets), and others, along with a wine portfolio, which produced 10% of revenue. Jim Cline played a key role, not only in aiding Coast with the Coors expansion, but he also had a vision for the future and had agreed to acquire Rogue, one of the earliest crafts. Coast was Rogue’s first wholesaler.

Jim grew up in Oregon and had gone to the University of Oregon where he aspired to play football. Unfortunately for him, the football career did not materialize, but Jim did earn a degree in biology. One of Jim’s favorite sayings was that he might not know how to sell beer, but he knew how to make it. Using his strong work ethic, Jim performed his way up thru the ranks at Coast to become a key member of the management team. Jim, more than another vital employee, was a major factor in the success of Coast. He quickly became my right-hand man and was a great help in negotiating new union contracts for Coast’s five local shops.

After several years of profitable sales, at the request of the family, I helped sell the company to Dick Lytle.  Dick changed the name of the company from Coast Distributors to Mount Hood Beverage, which in turn later became Columbia, the giant multi-state house.

Jim stayed during the transition from Coast to Mount Hood, but as is typical, he departed after the new management assumed control.  Jim was quickly picked up by Jack Joyce, the owner of Rogue Ales.  This decision led to one of the beer industry’s best leadership groups with Jack and Jim growing Rogue into not only one of the top selling crafts, but also one of the top selling brands.  Following the strategy of jack and Jim, Rogue expanded across the country. Jack retired and passed away some time ago, but his son took over from him and continued, with Jim’s help, to grow Rogue.

Jim was one of the beer industry’s unique leaders in that he took a traditional long-time family owned distributorship and grew it it into one of the nation’s top ten.  Not only does Rogue Ales span multiple states, the company also has a definite grasp on the future of the beer industry.  

After decades at Rogue, Jim has now retired to spend time with his wife Amy and his beloved horses. When I see a can of Coors or a bottle of Rogue, Jim comes to mind. Jim Cline, the Oregon Duck. 

2019 = Jim Cline – Rogue Ales

2018 – Ray Teutsch – AB Distributor

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


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