Blog Entries Tagged as distributors

A most disruptive year

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: distributors

In this issue we present our second (now “annual”) ranking of the people who are shaking things up in the beverage world. A year ago we ranked our first Beverage Disruptors, a comprehensive list of the people driving the enormous degree of change that’s reshaping the beverage business.
 
Our first Disruptors feature received a good deal of acclaim; we were praised for its comprehensiveness of insight, and we were admonished a couple of times for individuals who did not appear on the list. In the ranking this year, our editors managed to identify practically an entire new roster of beverage disruptors (we have a handful of holdovers, those we believed continued to make notable innovations within the last year). 
 
This year’s list was no easier to produce than the inaugural list last year, but for different reasons. The challenge last year was to clearly define what we meant by “disruptor”; this year, the challenge was a way to limit the size of the list. Our editors identified so many individuals who fit the description of someone “changing the status quo” in the beverage business, I came to the realization that 2015 could very well be remembered as the most disruptive year in the beverage world in recent memory.
 
One would need to look no further than the disruptive change in the beer business in the past year. Last month I wrote that no single event would have as much impact on the beverage world in the coming months and years than the AB InBev deal to take over SABMiller, creating the largest beer company in the world. The effects of that deal alone will reverberate across not only the beer sector, but through the wholesale distribution tier, retailing and across other beverage categories as well.
 
Closely linked to the beer mega deal, is the fate of the craft beer business here in the U.S. and around the world. Craft beer has been cast in the role of causing disruptive change in the beer sector, but in the last year the craft beer sector itself was disrupted by a number of brewers deciding to sell their businesses to big brewers or to private equity firms.
 
The year started off with the news that Elysian Brewing was selling to AB InBev—an announcement that caught a lot of people by surprise. But that deal proved to be just the tip of the iceberg.
 
Many other craft brewers entered into deals: Lagunitas (sold a 50 percent stake to Heineken) and Ballast Point (sold for $1 billion) were among the most notable. The pace of buyouts picked up in the last month of 2015, as AB InBev purchased three craft breweries in the span of one week.
 
And disruptive change was not limited to the beer business. The liquid refreshment category continued to be reshaped as consumers continued to seek out alternatives to traditional sweetened carbonated beverages. The spirits business, too, saw notable innovation as craft distillers brought new ideas and products to market.
 
Yes, 2015 was a disruptive business year, with 2016 expected to be the same. And the Disruptors list goes on. Enjoy.  

Lights! Cameras! Beer?

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: distributors

Warner Morris may be  the vp of operations for the Norcross, Ga.-based beer wholesaler Eagle Rock but part of his job has been keeping up to date on the latest TV shows being filmed in Atlanta. Because in a rather unique endeavor for a beer wholesaler, Eagle Rock is taking more than half of its new 800,000 square foot warehouse and committing it to the television industry, as the soon-to-open largest-under-one-roof television production facility in the U.S., Eagle Rock Studios Atlanta.
 
Talk about business ingenuity! It means taking something that’s been right under your nose the whole time—in this case, hundreds of thousands of square feet of extra warehouse space you recently bought but didn’t have any use for— and finding a lucrative new use for it. 
 
When the company was trying to lease one of its warehouses a few years ago after consolidating into its current Norcross facility, Eagle Rock crossed paths with television industry folks who were desperately in need of a place to shoot. It just so happens that Georgia has been quite successful in wooing Hollywood over the past several years—to the tune of becoming the third largest production location after California and New York in the U.S. And what’s more, the Hunger Games movies were also filming in town, gobbling up all the available studio space, putting even more of a squeeze on local television production.
 
Eagle Rock, an A-B wholesaler (featured in our March 2015 issue beginning on page 88 for the automated system at its new facility), quickly learned that Hollywood producers were virtually biting at the bit to get into the empty warehouse it was leaving as it consolidated into one facility. But Eagle Rock’s big Hollywood moment didn’t just end there. When it moved to its new facility in Norcross—a massive 800,000 warehouse previously occupied by Kraft Foods—this beer wholesaler only had need for about 350,000 square feet of that (the refrigerated side of the facility). What to do with the other 450,000 square feet? Turns out, Hollywood could use that too—big time. “Just from the connections and the relationships they built at our previous Stone Mountain facility, we realized, well we got this big giant 450,000 square foot thing, we can film more TV shows there,” explains Morris. And thus was born Eagle Rock Studios, which the company describes as a “Separate new entity and business endeavor, with common ownership with Eagle Rock Distributing.”
 
All of this makes for a rather entertaining thought: on one side of the wall will be conveyors running thousands of cases of beverages, while on the other, actors and actresses in costumes take to sound stages to rehearse and film their TV shows. I asked Morris if his workers will ever be allowed to take a break to watch the latest show being filmed?  “I think we might get to go over occasionally if we promise to be very quiet,” he says with a laugh. “At our old facility they film the TV show Devious Maids and they have basically rebuilt houses inside of our warehouse. I mean you walk around in them and you feel like you’re in somebody’s house. So it’s pretty interesting.”  Yes, Morris and his team have become true Hollywood insiders, a pretty glamorous proposition for a wholesaler with some extra space.
 
You can check out their new studios at www.erstudiosatl.com.  BW
 

Love for the Business

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: distributors

Love what you do. That’s the most common advice you hear when looking for the right job opportunity that could translate into a lasting career. But sometimes finding something you love, and finding something you love to do on a daily basis isn’t always that easy.

Last month, the Beverage World team headed to Las Vegas for the magazine’s annual BevOps/Fleet Summit conference, which was held over two-and-a-half days at the
M Resort.

The conference is a non-stop, activity-filled event that packs in education sessions, a facility tour of a leading beverage distributor or producer, keynote addresses from beverage executives and the always popular ride and drive equipment demo. (You can see full coverage of the event in next month’s issue.)

But aside from all of that, it also provides industry professionals—including ourselves here at BW—the opportunity to put faces to many of the names we often correspond with via e-mail or over the phone. Attendees get to know their peers a little bit better by sharing best practices and learning about challenges others are facing in different parts of the country.

There was a particular group from Crescent Crown Distributing-Arizona that made an impression by expressing their passion and dedication to the beverage business as well as the company they work for, many of them sharing their personal stories about how they got into the business and how they climbed the ladder to become managers or supervisors. They were in attendance to support Rich Marchant, the company’s vice president of operations, who was being awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award—that passion clearly runs through the ranks.

Talk to almost anyone in the beverage business though and you’ll more often than not hear about a similar passion—so many of the distributors and executives I’ve interviewed over my five years with the magazine have said to me, “the beverage business is a good one to be in.”

The team at Crescent Crown were enthusiastic about their jobs and took pride in what they do on a daily basis and the feats that they’ve accomplished, such as taking market share from competing beer brands, gaining accounts in a competitive grocery market and recently being awarded with Heineken’s Red Star Award for driving growth of the HUSA portfolio in their territory.  

It’s that pride that translates to success even in the midst of a challenging environment where the economy is in a slow recovery and consumers are still wary of spending.

I wasn’t begging to question whether there was still love for the business out there, but hearing personal stories from our attendees was a nice reminder that the beverage business is indeed a good business to be in.