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Extra beer business news, thoughts and insights from the publishers of Beer Marketer’s Insights, Insights Express, Craft Brew News, Beverage Business Insights and Alcohol Issues Insights.

My BMI Experience, Part 2

Ok, here goes round 2 update on the BMI experience through the eyes of the 3rd generation.  We’ve sorta slowed down on the whole blog thing, for starters, but that’s partly why I’m here now writing this.   Since my first entry, I’ve done a good bit of traveling for the co.  In early Feb I went to Aruba for Mich & Ill’s annual distrib mtg (somebody’s gotta do the tuff work around here, ya know).  There I got to speak with plenty of wholesalers, and also covered speeches from Independent Beverage Group’s Joe Thompson, Lagunitas’ Tony Magee, and Tenth & Blake prexy Tom Cardella, among others.  A week later my dad and I were off to Chicago, where we managed to squeeze in visits to Reyes HQ, Lagunitas brewery-to-be, Windy City, Two Bros pub brewery & warehouse, and Half Acre.  We met up with as many people as we physically could fit in to our 24 hr schedule that Molly Reilly meticulously planned out for us.   So a week after hearing Joe talk more about “distrib systems of the future,” I got to see it first-hand at Reyes HQ.  And after visiting Tony at his Chicago facility, I can safely say I now know what 300K sq-ft of warehouse space looks like – friggin’ huge!   


Lots happened in Chicago since our visit.  Lagunitas just started shipping IPA outta the new facility and plans to start making Lil Sumpin’ Sumpin’ this May.  All while Tony and co scour the country in search of 3d facility (wonder which state will create the 1st “bring Lagunitas to our state” Facebook page, write the 1st song, change a law, build a sandcastle!?).  Half Acre now has a 60K sq-ft 2nd facility in the works within walking distance of current one.  Also, Half Acre managed to switch over to Windy City for Chi metro area distribution while Chicago Beverage Systems holds on to brand downtown (where it does most of its biz).  Two Bros announced JV with Cavalier Distributing in Ariz for a craft-focused distribution operation. Ebel bros “not in a hurry to build a (2nd) brewery” just yet, but expecting 25% growth to 45K bbls in 2014, so quickly using up space at its Chi facility.  And Founders moved to giant AB distrib City Bevs from Louis Glunz Beer throughout Chicagoland, marking yet another hot craft brand making significant distrib change in Chi.


A coupla weeks after returning from Chicago, it was down to Orlando for Crown’s mtg, where they rattled off plenty of impressive numbers, and prepped everyone for the “200 mil case opportunity” they see over the next 6-7 yrs.   Throughout the rest of Mar we saw lotsa action, anything and everything from: BA altering definition of craft, Crown and Boston Beer speedy starts to yr (Modelo, Rebel IPA and Angry Orchard especially), distrib consolidation in upstate NY, big brewers pulling outta St. Patrick’s Day parades.  Then too, continued decline of domestic premium & premium light, MC mtg addressing how to “harness this new era of disruption and fragmentation,” Fortune rollout, expansions everywhere and anywhere, turmoil at state legislature level, and much much more (….breathe).  It’s pretty safe to say, there’s no shortage of material to write about these days.  


Fast forward to Apr; I got to attend my first Craft Brewers Conference where I was all over the place attending seminars, jotting down notes, attending events left n right, meeting a whole bunch of people, and seeing a whole lotta familiar faces.  The BMI team was in full force; we went straight to press immediately after the General Session, and throughout the rest of the week spread out to attend as many seminars as we could swing.  After I returned to NY, my grandpa, BMI founder, Mr. Jerry Steinman, told me something along the lines of “you probably learned more about business in one week than you ever did in school.”  I’m paraphrasing, and, of course, it was an exaggeration, but if we’re goin’ by a “usefulness” barometer, he’s prolly not too far off.  Not sure if that’s more of a testament to the seminars or a knock on my studies, but let’s just go with the former.   


The rest of April, I’d say the major news theme that struck was distrib/small brewer tension, tho of course, there were plenty other news topics across the board as well.  Indeed, “there’s a new f-word,” as Eric pointed out in latest BMI edition.  Steve Hindy’s op-ed in NY Times fired off intensified franchise law discussions, CBC carried message further, then NBWA fired back at its conference.  All while Fla bill slowly, and not so surely swung back n forth until state Senate finally voted 30-10 in favor of newly amended bill allowing growlers, packaged sales on-site up to certain % of production, among other things.  But that died in House last Friday.


In these last few mos we also cranked out the 1st edition of a handy little book called Craft Brew Guide.  Lotsa great data and review spanning 10 yrs of incredible growth for overall segment, top cos and top mkts.  I was happy to be able to contribute a good amount to the IRI section of the book, and little snippets elsewhere, and look forward to being able to contribute more in coming yrs too.  Shameless plug, check out the book if you haven’t, place an order while you’re at it.  


Ok, that brings us mostly up to date, so I think I’ll stop here.  Anyways, amidst all the above, I’ve been writing more, stat-keeping more, tweeting more, learning more, and just trying to keep up with all of the crazy.   


Until next time folks.  



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