Ep 004: Jennifer Grant

Join me as I sit down with Jennifer Grant, the GM for Markstein Sales Co of Antioch, California – a distributor that was founded in 1919! Jennifer shares with me her background in the trucking as she grew up behind the leadership of her mother and what led her to the beer industry. She’s passionate about people and we have a nice conversation at the end where we discuss what our friends purchase matters, because  every bottle matters. iSellBeer presents to you: Jennifer Grant.

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Jennifer Grant:
I took the first year and I really spent about two and a half months in every single department and every single day I worked in those departments, I loaded trucks, I built orders in the warehouse. I worked with delivery for three and a half months. You know, I rode in trucks. I did. Yeah, I did everything. I was at work, you know, for the morning. I came in and did everything with...

Tracy Neal:
My guest for episode number four is Jennifer Grant. I sat down across from Jennifer in the boardroom at her office in California. Jennifer is the GM for Markstein Sales Company, where she leads a great team of passionate salespeople who focus on execution every day. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. I sell beer presents to you, Jennifer Grant.

I am not Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski, I'm the dude.

Yeah, I tell you what, you can take a good look at at a butcher's ass by sticking your head up there. But wouldn't you rather take his word for it?

Stay home and eat all the freakin' chips, Kip!

Napoleon, don't be jealous 'cause I've been chatting online with babes all day.

We have a pond in the back. We have a pool and a pond... Pond'd be good for you.

Welcome to the I Sell Beer podcast with Tracey Neal, a production for sales reps and distributors who are driving around all day selling beer and the official home of the I Sell Beer Nation Facebook group. And now your host. The 1989 winner of the John M. Studebaker wheelbarrow race in Hangtown, California, Tracy Neal!

Tracy Neal:
All right. Here we are with Jennifer Grant with Markstein Sales of Antioch, California.

Jennifer Grant:
Good morning, Tracy.

Tracy Neal:
How are you? Jennifer?

Jennifer Grant:
I'm doing wonderful.

Tracy Neal:
Great. So, Jennifer, tell me, what did you want to be when you grew up, when you were a little kid, when you were kind of in the grade school to junior high level area? What did you want to be when you grew up?

Jennifer Grant:
I don't think I'm alone in this, but I wanted to be a veterinarian. Absolutely.

Tracy Neal:
Veterinarian?

Jennifer Grant:
Absolutely.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And what was it about that, that role, that kind of attracted you to it?

Jennifer Grant:
I grew, I always grew up with pets. And I think at one point I told my mom that I wanted to train dolphins, even though I was not a strong swimmer. But, but, yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Who didn't want to train dolphins...

Jennifer Grant:
I know. It's just, it's just...

Tracy Neal:
Is that, is that a little bit of Flipper?

Jennifer Grant:
Exactly. It just seemed like the most exciting job ever.

Tracy Neal:
Did you watch Flipper?

Jennifer Grant:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and yeah, we always had pets growing up and I loved it. I thought that would be, it would be an amazing career. That would be.

Tracy Neal:
That's awesome.

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
So what led you away from that? I mean, obviously, you're not a veterinarian today. You're the general manager of Markstein Sales in Antioch here. Was there something was it just a dream or what kept you from doing that?

Jennifer Grant:
I think, I think it was a dream when you're a little kid and you know, and as I grew up, I, I grew up on the East Coast and my, my mom actually ran a distribution and trucking and distribution company when I was in middle school and high school. And she owned it and was the president of the company. And, and that's where I spent. That was all my summer jobs growing up.

Tracy Neal:
So you were heavily influenced by the fact that your mom was the president and owner of a trucking distribution company?

Jennifer Grant:
Absolutely.

Tracy Neal:
So you were kind of seeing trucks going in and out of the yard, the warehouse, the forklifts.

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
It was very, very much a comfort zone for you?

Jennifer Grant:
It was. And I loved it. I loved all the people that were there. I spent a lot of time. And to be honest, I mean, growing up with a role model like that. My mom is amazing, lady. And she's also 5'4. And. And back then, too, and I mean, this is on the outskirts of Boston. And I remember, you know, being out there and watching the, the unions would actually come to the back door and try and talk to all of our drivers. And I remember my mom 100 pounds, 5'4 for running out there and, you know, screaming them and kicking them out of the, out of the up the property. And, you know, she, she was a great people person and she still is. And I think that's what really made her so successful. But I mean, back in the '80s and early '90s, to have a woman that was running that kind of business definitely was not, was not common. So she was also my role model.

Tracy Neal:
That awesome!

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
That very cool. And so you talked about how you grew up a little bit in Boston, but obviously now we're in California. Antioch, for those listeners that don't know, Antioch is probably about, what, 30 miles outside of San Francisco?

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah, absolutely.

Tracy Neal:
About 30 miles outside of San Francisco, east of San Francisco, towards Sacramento. And what led you to California?

Tracy Neal:
I'm the youngest of four. I have three older brothers and my oldest brother moved out here in the early '80s. He chased a girl and who eventually became his wife. And settle that here in Danville, one of the suburbs. And I mean, the town I grew up in back east. It was very, very tiny. And I remember coming out here, you know, who knows young, like middle school age. And I mean, go into Danville, and Pleasanton, and San Ramon and just thinking how absolutely beautiful it was to go and visit in San Francisco. And when I graduate high school, I went for a year college up in New York. This little tiny college named Hartwick, it was about 20 miles outside of Syracuse. And during my freshman year, I had a, I had a room on the, on the ground floor of my dormitory. And it, it was very, very common. And I would wake up in the morning and the snow is above my window. So you actually, it was pitch black till about noon and you know, and it just froze my butt off for about six months. And I remember coming home and tell him I'm almost like I just I need to move to California. And I did. And all my brothers actually live out here now. And, and, and we love it. And I never looked back. I am still an absolutely, an East Coast girl, at, at heart. My mom still lives back east and, and I, we go back all the time.

Tracy Neal:
So when the San Francisco 49ers won five Super Bowls. You grew up out here. Did you become a niner fan?

Jennifer Grant:
I did not.

Tracy Neal:
No? Still, still a Patriots fan.

Jennifer Grant:
I am a Pats fan, a self expanded Bruins fan. And a Sox fan. Absolutely.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, that must, that take some discipline to resist the greatness that you are surrounded by as you grew up in the San Francisco Bay area.

Jennifer Grant:
It was. And. But I do love my warriors, too. I'm a big Golden State fan.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, yeah. It's been a good run for the Warriors.

Jennifer Grant:
Absolutely.

Tracy Neal:
So you said you went to, it was Hartwick back outside of Syracuse and then you moved up here. And what did you do when you first got out to California?

Jennifer Grant:
When I first got out to California, the first thing I did was get a job. And I was young. I was 19 years old. And I moved in with my brother and his wife. And, and I got a job. And I was, I was in the restaurant industry and I was waiting tables and doing a little bartending. And, and, and I did that for a couple of years. And I went to school and I ended up graduating from Saint Mary's at Moraga with a business degree.

Tracy Neal:
Awesome, nice!

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah. And, and I loved it. I mean, Saint Mary's is absolutely gorgeous. I mean, that campus is amazing. So...

Tracy Neal:
It is, it's got that nice new sports facility, too.

Jennifer Grant:
It sure does, it sure does.

Tracy Neal:
The pool, indoor soccer, and the gym, and...

Jennifer Grant:
Amazing men's basketball team.

Tracy Neal:
Yes, you know NCAA action is last year?

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Tracy Neal:
And the, the roundup.

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Bar with the wooden floor.

Jennifer Grant:
The legendary roundup.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. That was a time there.

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah. A little bit. A little bit.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, so then you graduate from St. Mary's. You got into the service industry. What led you to being in the beer industry?

Jennifer Grant:
After I, you know, after I kind of got a real job. I moved into sales and I really began my career in sales in my early 20s. And, and I worked route sales for a medical supply company. And I actually had the entire Marin County and Contra Costa County as my territory at over 500 accounts. And, and I was on a route...

Tracy Neal:
Doctor's offices or hospitals?

Jennifer Grant:
No, it was everything from, you know, warehouse like, like distributors like us.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Jennifer Grant:
To a lot of construction companies to really any, any business.

Tracy Neal:
So people that needed onsite medical supply.

Jennifer Grant:
Absolutely. And it was anything from major big medical supplies, like, if you like, we had the refineries to, you know, to adjust in a general office.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Jennifer Grant:
And so I had over 500 accounts. And this is back in the day when I literally had a beeper. And that's how I got my messages. And I had a box full of business cards that were for every account. And I wrote every order and then had to submit them via fax machine. So I couldn't even imagine doing that today. But, but I did that for a few years. And then I moved into I went to work for a company out of San Ramon and I was doing national sales for a very high level finance executive. So we were doing, we, we were doing like life planning software, mostly for like big time estate attorneys and things like that, life agents. And I did that for about seven years and I had eight states and I traveled probably, you know, two weeks out of every month. And and it was a lot of experience that I gained there as well. And so during that time, I wanted to do something that that would keep me home a little bit more. And I happened to meet a friend of mine and, and she was working with Markstein and said that they were, you know, wanted to hire some some folks. And so I met with Laura. And, you know, we went through it and she was in need of somebody to come in and work with training development of the entire team.

Tracy Neal:
So this is Laura Markstein?

Jennifer Grant:
Laura Markstein.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So you met with Laura and...

Jennifer Grant:
I met with Laura. And, you know, everything appealed to me about this industry. It was what I grew up in. It was family owned. It was I mean, the generational aspect of businesses like ours, I think is an anomaly. It just doesn't, it's not every industry anymore. And I mean, we celebrate our hundred year anniversary next, next year, which is crazy.

Tracy Neal:
That's awesome!

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
It says on the building, in front of the building. Establish 1919.

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Family owned business.

Jennifer Grant:
It is amazing. And so everything about it really appealed to me. And you know, I've always grown up around, around sales people, and organization, working as a family. And you know, being, you know, seeing my mom run the business as she did and working with the people. And really the one thing that's, you know, that she always stressed, the number one most important thing in her business were the people that work there, period.

Tracy Neal:
Yup.

Jennifer Grant:
And anyway, I saw, I saw a lot of similarities. You know, when I met with Laura and learn more about Markstein and, and I was lucky enough to have her, you know, open the door to me and bring me on board.

Tracy Neal:
That's great. So what was your first title?

Jennifer Grant:
So my first title, I believe was training manager.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Jennifer Grant:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
So were you training sales reps or?

Jennifer Grant:
So I came in. And, and I was really given a very interesting opportunity, I believe, and one of the things that, that I think at that age to where I was, I mean, I was I think I just turned, you know, 32. I, I was very, very motivated and, and very excited. And so Laura was really open with me and, and she really kind of let me write my own job description in a way. And when I first started with the company, I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could. And the only way that you can start writing, training and development platforms for an organization is to really learn that organization, you know, forward and backward. And so I took the first year and I really spent about two and a half months in every single department and every single day. I worked in those departments. I loaded trucks. I built orders in the warehouse. I worked with delivery for three and a half months. You know, I rode in trucks. I did. I did everything. I was at work, you know, four the morning. I came in and did everything with them. I'm more of Morlino. Yeah.

It's okay. That's that's our business. That's our business. I love it. That early truck, guys, right? Yes.

And you know, and I work with the gray. Very true everything. I wanted to learn it inside and out. And you know what most appealed to them? No one being part of this organization. What do we need to be more successful, especially? You know, at that point, I even recognized and looked at our team and, you know, knew that the most important thing to is not only our people, but the new people that we're bringing in and what we needed to do to provide them a platform to be successful. So that was I mean, that was my my very, very lucky first couple of years with the organization was being able to do that. And I also went out and I was I was that tips trainer. I don't know if anybody really uses that program anymore. I remember too many tips and I train, you know, a lot of our different accounts. I worked with different organizations in downtown Walnut Creek that partnered with the police department down there. And at that time is very, very important. It still is. And so I got a lot of experience doing that.

And I also worked a lot with Laura on legislative issues like with the CBD and SBW way, OK? And I still do that today. I think it's a I think it's a very special, important part of our business.

And CBB, just for everybody that's not familiar with his California Beer and Beverage Distributor Association. Right. Verdell for it. Yes. And.

You know, you said that you were familiar with the business, but yet your mom's business sent out trucks that were not full of beer. Right. And beer's kind of beers. Kind of a big deal. It isn't a big deal. Here's kind of awesome. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm sure that will on your first day on the job. Yeah. There were some aha. Moments. So do you remember anything in particular about your first day or maybe the first week on the job where you were walking around the warehouse? You're like. I can't believe I'm surrounded by all this beer.

Actually, my first. Yes. I think anybody that walks into a beer warehouse has the same as the same feeling. When they walk out in the warehouse and they look up and they go, oh, my God. And, you know, but I think to my first actual day on, the job was spent in the train. And by far it is my favorite place to be.

And so I think, you know, being new to this particular industry and, you know, being in sales for you know, for, you know, 15 years before that, but understanding in this business how important relationships are and that, you know, when you're in route sales for for these, you know, men and women that are out here and they're doing it every day. The one thing that they that I know for my team and our team is that they truly value those relationships more than anything.

And.

And we and I think, you know, are deliver drivers are service reps. Our sales reps are the one that really solidify the amazing reputation that we have.

So do you remember anything in particular about maybe the first account you went to or a particular account you went to on your first day? Oh, absolutely.

I remember how should I say the account?

Of course, I get much out of I think it was.

It's not even open anymore, but it was a little bar that was out in Dublin, California.

And we got there at like seven o'clock in the morning. And in closing.

Exactly. Exactly. And that was back when they could have over that long. And.

And we got in there and I were walking in there and there was probably six people at the bar. They looked like they had been there for a long time. And and there was three dogs running around the bar. And this woman was at the bar and she was smoking. And the first thing they did, she looked at me and she was smoking. And she had this real raspy voice.

She's like, how you doing, honey? And that was a first account I went to.

And I just started laughing. And, you know, we met the retailer, the owner, and they were phenomenal. And I fell in love with it right away. And you sell anything in your first marketplace?

I was I was there with our on premise supervisor and I think get my first account. I was just soaking it. Just soak in it. Yeah.

I remember my my first account. I did not sell anything. I was actually rejected. But that's another story. But keep in mind, this is my first day, like first day. So, yeah, it was it was it was great.

Good. So what was what was your you got out of the trade? You did a whole bunch of jobs. Right. And then you were in charge of training. What was your next role?

My next role? I. I did different stints with different parts of the company. I moved into the finance role. So I wasn't finance manager, but I worked a lot with, you know, developing certain processes that we have in-house.

And then I moved into human resources and I ran human resources for for a few years. And and really, it was about for us. Is it as an organization about transition and working on our culture was one of the biggest pieces that that we tackled at that time.

I'm interested to hear more about that, because obviously, you know, the whole scene is, you know, culture. Each strategy for breakfast and every business guru talks about building a culture. Yeah, in my experience, at a beer distributorship, culture was a lot easier to do 30 years ago when all the sales reps came back at 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon. Because you had that camaraderie, you had meetings every day, you had breakouts or we picked up the P.O.S. together, money and stuff like that. Nowadays, you know, there's some pros and cons with technology. And one of the cons is that the sales reps don't come back to the warehouse.

So how what is something that you've learned or is maybe something that you've done to really establish culture in an organization where a lot of your relationships of the internal people are distant because they're out there on the road?

I think that's probably one of the most difficult things, I think with with any industry that has, you know, different facets to it. And in our industry, really, I mean it. And I can't speak for every wholesaler, but I know that you always have that battle sometimes between operations and sales. And you're laughing because, you know, it's true, I guess, because you probably can't speak on behalf of every distributor.

No. But. But you do.

And I think, you know, definitely having people that spend a majority of that day away and it's. And, you know, they come back and they don't need to. Now, I mean, our our reps come back maybe twice a week.

We have meetings once a week that they're here for, but they get a lot of their information, a lot of their goals and objectives comes to them in a tablet. And that face time is something that is that is really easy to lose. But but it is probably one of the most important pieces of of of our organization.

And for us to that is that is really our goal. And it continues to be a member. You know, but Mark Sanchez, at one time we were talking about culture. He's like, well, when you think you're gonna be done changing the culture and that. And I thought it was such an interesting question. And, you know, he was right. But at the same time, I said, never go. I think you always work on culture. You know, especially when you value the people that are in your organization so much. And and it's always something that we strive for. And how do we bring departments together? We can sell all the beer in the world, but if we're not able to run our operations the right way.

You know, as a business, we're gonna be failing. So how do we bring them them together and make us more aligned? And, you know, we try and work on that every day.

So are there any particular pillars that you have identified that you use to build your culture around?

You know, I think I think part of it is building to building out maybe different pieces of what we do, you know, understanding the value of communication, the style of communication and understanding that, you know, the biggest thing that I think our team faces when they go out there is, you know, Safeway's huge in our market. You know, you send you reps into Safeway. They're in there twice a week. Our service team is in there seven days a week. Our delivery is in there twice a week. And one of the biggest things that we are trying to get to, and I think we do a really good job of that, is having that that aligned vision when we walk into an account that we are all on the same team. Service sales and delivery all should be hopefully having the same message. And, you know, when there's a when there's a hurdle that all of them understand that the same way to tackle it. And and that's a tough one.

But I think all about alignment and communication.

It is. And, you know, it's something that I truly believe it needs to be worked on every day and you get to practice it. You also have to have leadership that that puts it into action.

So they see it.

So what are some of the what are some of the show other than what we just discussed being a day in, day out charge? What are some of the challenges in being successful today as a distributor?

I think distributors today, I mean, I can only speak for our little bubble out here, but I think I think there's a lot of things out there that said we can.

We can probably agree that they've changed. I'm sure your operations have changed dramatically in distributor personnel, yet a lot of things have changed in not only the last 10 years, but the last 20 or 30.

Absolutely.

And, you know, one of the things I think as a as an organization, when you look at, you know, the amount of tenure that that a lot of wholesalers have. I know you've walked into wholesalers and it's not uncommon. I mean, you could walk down the halls of Marcine and, you know, there's people that have 30, 35, 25 years experience. It's a it is normal. I think that changes a little bit. It's changed to where, you know, our labor force is different.

You know, we have.

And I don't want to pinpoint millennials are by themselves. But I think you have a different shift as as people approach a work-life balance. And it's not as simple sometimes as you can expect to hire somebody when they're 20 and then they're going to retire from here. That's not the case anymore. I think you've seen turnover rise a little bit and a lot of wholesalers. That's a challenge in how we deal with it. And that's part of making sure a culture is is continuously something that we focus on.

And we have a more well-rounded life work balance program that we have to change to be that attractive business to a lot of young workers. And, you know, I think to, you know, industries change. You look at you look at what's going to happen with Amazon, making sure that our three tier system is protected. You know, classy drivers, I think is a concern for a lot of businesses. There's not a whole lot of young people that are that are running out and getting their class-A license. So we know that that's going to continue to change over the next five or 10 years. And. We deal with that is very, very important.

Good. Yeah. So you did finance an H.R. eventually at some point in time before you moved into general manager. You probably had some middle management roles. Am I correct? Would you describe your experience there?

No. I mean, I went you know, I worked I worked hand-in-hand with our leadership team.

I was on the executive management team for a long time. And then, you know, we are our previous general manager, retired. And and I stepped into our role. And during that time, we had a at the same time, we had a shift in leadership as well in our sales department. So a couple of us moved into new roles right away. And we you know, we went through it together.

So if this were a if this were a hypothetical exit interview and I said, Jennifer, what's the one thing you're most proud of in your in your role? Is GM here at Markstein SALES? What's the one thing over the last several years that you would say is kind of like the pinnacle thing that you want to put your name on and say, I'm really, really proud of that accomplishment or of that development or or maybe it's the way a particular issue was handled?

You know, I think I think the one thing that I am most proud of is our team. I mean, hands.

The people that are here, the relationships you develop, the way you treat each other when you work with them every single day. Developing goals for success and going out there and executing and how we see how we are able to deal with change, I think is very important.

And I'm proud of that.

I'm proud of of having a team here that, you know, we have to learn to trust each other. We've done a great job of doing that. And I think I think continuing on that and understanding, you know, as an organization, not looking at the right now as much, you know, wanted to succeed right now. But also you have to be looking into the future. And, you know, part of that is be embracing change and knowing that it's coming and doing whatever you can. And some days. You know, you want to get through the day and make sure the beer's delivered. But you got to think about five years from now, you know.

Well, and you also said earlier that it's Segway a little bit here. But you said one of your favorite things to do is get out the trade. Tell me about your last trip out of the trade. Did you work with. Were you on your own rebirth as sales rep or merchandise or a manager? Did you hit some accounts and haul some cases?

My last day in the trade, you were right. After Fourth of July, I was out there hurting myself all day. I was out there. You know, we're all hands on deck.

And that's one of the things that that, you know, I value most about this, is that definitely during holiday seasons, you know, it's me, it's Laura gets out there in the trade. You're out there helping drivers. You're out there down stock beer. You're stocking shelves. You know, you're breaking down loads. And so my last day in the trade and involved a lot of achy, achy joints and in a lot of sweat. Was my last day in the trade was about small format, a large format. Large format where huge Shea market. OK. So I spent my day in Safeways.

Good. And have you seen that the change from large format to the small format over the last few years?

You know, for us, I think especially in large format, the biggest thing that's changed is are the beer boxes.

You know, there'll be boxes are getting any bigger, but the schematics have changed tremendously. And, you know, you're seeing a lot more SKUs fitting in. You know, the amount of feet that a that a beer box has. And you know how many different SKUs are available. And, you know, one thing that's you know, for our industry, we're very proud of the diverse choice that you're able to offer the consumer. But the amount of change is incredible. And and how quickly it changes. And you just look at the way large format, you know, they do their their sets and, you know, some of these, you know, craft brands get introduced to, you know, just take Safeway, for example. They've they've changed they've changed the game for a lot of these small craft breweries. And, you know, for us, it it's our business changes with it. And, you know, you're dealing with, you know, 15, 20 years ago, you looked at four pallets going into a Safeway and there was two of them were all big brands and they were just ready to go right on the floor, 30 packs and twelve packs. And it's not like that anymore. And so you touch on things a lot more. You want more SKUs to deal with. So, you know, it's changed. The consumer palate has changed. And the beer business done a great job of progressing with it.

Good. Are there any particular retailers or maybe industry people who you feel like you want to give a shout out to that kind of helped you get your career started?

Sure. I know there was a guy by the name of Terry Givens and he was it Marcine in Sacramento? Terry. Yeah.

And and I went up there and I spent a couple of days with him in the market and he was a longtime beer guy and he was phenomenal to me.

And then when I and I got to say to I mean, I went down.

I thought, you know, when I chat, you know, through the years, too, I think I think distributors do a good job at looking at each other sometimes for, you know, for ideas and what works and best practices. And. And I also went down to to couch distributing in Monterrey down there in Watsonville. And I spent a couple of days with Little Louie and and Steve Vargas in the trade.

And they are, number one, the phenomenal longtime beer guys. And and I learned a lot with them. You know, you get to see what people are doing and what works and, you know, sharing ideas. And, you know, we're all doing the same thing in and open in those doors and sharing ideas is really what's gonna make us more successful. So they were phenomenal to me. And they're really, really great guys. It's good. Are those guys still in the industry? You know, Louie is just getting ready to retire. And Steve Vargas absolutely is 56. Is he still up in Sacramento? Oh, Steve is out in couch. Yeah. Okay, Terry. Terry retired years ago. Oh, yeah, yeah.

Great.

Well, that kind of concludes the formal side of the interview. OK. And as I as I wrap it up here, I want to say thank you for being a execution partner with the ICL beer platform. Well, thank you. You guys have been strong supporters of us. We love working with you and your team. Do you mind giving me a 30 second plug on what your distribution does with the ICL beer platform?

Absolutely. And you know, you and I, Tracy, have talked about this a couple of times. The most the most important piece about I sell beer. And, you know, the thing that was most attractive when we first talked about it was the fact that this is really designed for distributorships and there's really not a whole lot of programs out there that do that. And, you know, for us, being able to have that up to the up to the minute idea display is out there. And that's really what we graps grasped on to first was, you know, our display tracking and how valuable it is in n.o care if you're in any market or chane market to be able and look at, you know, how much beer you have on the floor and the execution that happens on an absolute like moment by moment basis is phenomenal. And you know, we can't be everywhere all the time. And, you know, and our reps, their plate is so full. And for them to be able to take that picture and get that information logged and be able to see it is really so incredibly valuable. And that was that was at first the number one thing that we looked at with with I love bit platform. It was phenomenal and how perfectly it was designed for our industry. There's really nothing else like it.

And I got to tell you, our suppliers are tota. So tired of me talking about it, I'm sure, because they talked about. You know, I get so excited. I shall like to check this out, you know, and. Yeah. So, yeah, I think it's I think it's a great thing for our. We're talking to the suppliers. Good, good, good, good talk.

It takes a while. Yes. Said we're talking to you. So I can understand that completely.

Well, we thank you for your support. We love be an execution partner with you. And thank you for sharing a bit of insight on your career and your your first day on the job. I know that. I'm so glad you're in this industry and I'm glad that you love the industry. And I really learned a lot about you and your focus on people, which is means a lot to me because it's the same area that I was raised with. Yeah. Back in the 80s and 90s in this industry is it's all about people. It is all about people. Excellent. Thanks very much. Thank you. One other thing, Jennifer, to discuss and I checked with you before we before I ask this question, because I want to make sure that it was an area you were comfortable with. But obviously being a woman in senior management in the beer distribution industry is a little bit rare. And it's it's not as rare today as it was 15, 20 years ago. But tell me, what's what's that been like? What are the pros and cons or what do you have to say about that?

You know, I think. And I mean, I think you're right.

15 years ago when I started, it was not common. And, you know, I remember Laura and I going to some, you know, similar industry meetings. And and we would laugh because we'd sit there and, you know, in a room of a thousand, we would count maybe one or two hands. How many women were in the row?

And, you know, I, for one, am absolutely thrilled to see the changes that have happened just in the past five or six years. And I think I think the female force in this industry is is phenomenal. And it's it gives a good base for what our consumer. This is about as well. And I think at one point, you know, for being, you know, one of the distributors, I think we're one of the only ones in the country that is actually, you know, woman running and having a female president and a female.

Gm following in the footsteps of Amy Trask at the Oakland Raiders. Yes. Say again. Was it Amy Trask, the first and only female GM of the NFL?

I think so. I think so. So it's incredibly special. And I think it does add a different twist.

But at the end of the day, like, I don't really think about that all the time.

Obviously, it's going out there and people are people and I have met some of the most amazing people in this industry and phenomenal men and women. And I will say some of the most dedicated, passionate individuals that I that I have seen in any industry. And. And I think it lends a lot to the feeling of the industry itself. And if you're passionate and you want to execute and and and you're out there wanting to align your values with your team, you're going to be successful. And whether you're a man or a woman. But I definitely think it brings a different twist. And, you know, I'm really excited to see, you know, the influx of of of women in the beer industry.

Yeah, you're right. People. People get really passionate about the brands. It's funny how. I'm sure you've experienced this. A couple of your friends will joke and say, well, this one time I brought a beer brand over to Jennifer's house. It wasn't once she saw it, she got really mad.

And then they laughed like, ha ha. Yeah, no, no. I laughed, too. And then I say, you're right. And if you ever do it again, I'm not open. No, I do.

I get it all the time. My brothers. They know. They know. And they knew from day one. You know, I joke all the time. Like there's a reason why you're taking food off my table. I don't understand. And well, it's not just beer.

About 10 years ago. I did start watching which water bottle that I just got in the water.

You know there is a water. Yeah. Do you drink, sir? I know you're down the street at the Chevron and I'd have to look up. Which water? Yes. Jupiter. I went into cell to make sure I get Crystal guys or Arrowhead or whatever it is. It is absolutely true.

And I think I think that's what makes us our business special is if you're not passionate about what you do.

I think you should do something else.

You know, it's it's awesome because the opposite of that would be to be complacent and say, oh, it's only one bottle. And the fact that we don't do that. The fact that we say, you know what? It's one bottle and one bottle matters. Yes. All the bottles out. Up.

Yeah. Yeah. I remember being at a we were at an incentive trip and we were actually at a concert and we were all out in the parking lot. We had like a little dinner, barbecue going and stuff. And one of the friends of one of the attendees walked in and he was carrying one of our competitive brands.

And a lot of our sales supervisors walked right up to him and said, nope. Took it out his hand and threw it away. It was super mad. And and I thought it was hilarious. And it's I think it's just evident, no matter what brands you sell.

People are passionate about it.

And and it's what makes this industry special. It really does.

Well, I'm back in the old days when I was in my 20s, I can remember getting new placements, going to the independent liquor stores. And if there was one six pack left of a competitor, we would buy it out. Yes.

Happens to get fast. But here's the funny part. Here's the funny part.

As a 25 year old, I would go home at the end of the week with six or eight, six packs of competitive beer in my truck and I'd throw it away.

Would you drink? I love the fact that you wouldn't let you drink it either. Oh, exactly. Let your friends drink. No, no. That's competitive stuff. Awesome. I just bought it to get the placement. It's not real beer. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, it is.

It's phenomenal, I think. I think no matter like how we changing grow that keep it that I've seen just continues to be a constant.

Yeah. And the amount of passion, you know, the younger generation brings to it as well, you know. You know, they're bringing it in, they're making it their own and their passion about what they do out there.

I mean you're fighting these reps are fighting for space every day, whether it's on a shelf or a tap lineup. There's so many other people out there fighting for space. And they go out and they go to battle every day.

And it's a it's tough work for them when the brands the brands become a badge of personality.

Yeah, absolutely. And this is there's a story behind so many of them. And I think people gravitate toward that and they attach themselves to it.

And you know what I'm seeing speaking of brands being a badge, I have four sons. Sixteen, fourteen, eleven. And said, wow. So and they have these what are these $50 water bottles called again? Oh, yeah. I know you're talking about the fancy water bottles. Right. And they're putting all the stickers on it. Yeah. And it's almost as if my. Teenage kids are badging their water bottle into like a brand. But the brand is not about a beverage brand. It's about their brand. About who they are. It's about who they are. Yes. And then they carry this water bottle around here like it's a suitcase. And they're not even thirsty. They just want everyone to see their stickers. Yeah. So they're very much in line with badging ourselves and being passion about the brand that we develop. Absolutely.

Absolutely. And it's and it's just I think it's important that we recognize that, too, in this business, because it's a it is very important that young people go out there and they're not necessarily, you know, going to hold on to all those badges, aren't going to represent who they are for their entire life. And those things change. And it's the same thing out there with their choices and what they're doing.

And they want to try something new and they want it. They're continuously wanting to have, you know, new flavors and newer and new stories that they can attach themselves to in the craft beer industry. And that's that's really an exciting place to be.

I think you're right about changing and evolving. You know, if every if every guy who swore they'd never drive a minivan actually did, that could actually be anybody.

But eventually, it's a good point. Some of us had to cave. Yes, you did. Yes. And then make a cooler minivan. So not so that anyway.

So what's the best tasting beer in America? Who cares? That's for the consumer to decide. And until they do, you will keep selling them new brands every day as it just sugars sales reps. You can become a part of the ICL Beer Nation by subscribing to this podcast and using the hashtag. I sell beer in all your social posts. Also, be sure to join the ICL, your Nation Facebook group and visit our Web site. Our industry is an up and down the street business where local relationships matter. I want to thank you for making me part of your day and wish you good luck on the objectives for your next account gone. In fact, I know you're going to crush it.

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