Ep. 005: Tom Louderback Sr., Bay Area Beverage Company

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Tom Louderback:
As far as I know, is probably unofficially the first player to be treated, the NFL to the AFL. So go to the Raiders and spent two years with him and they were interested in years. The beginning of the Raiders history was just incredible because we didn't know what we had.

Tracy Neal:
My guest for episode number five is Tom Louderback. Tom is the original owner of Bay Area Beverage in Oakland, California. And years ago, I called on his distributorship as one of his suppliers. He has since passed the baton to his son, T.J. While he enjoys the spoils of retirement, I traveled to Reno, Nevada, to meet with Tom. And we conducted this interview in the basement of a restaurant in the early afternoon. So please pardon the faint elevator music and a few broken dishes. Tom has amazing stories to tell and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. iSellBeer presents to you, Tom Louderback.

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

Yeah. Tell you what. You can take a good look at what was asked by sticking your head up there, but wouldn't you rather take his word for it?

Film and eat all the frickin chips. Kip point. Don't be jealous that I've been shown online games all day.

We have a pond in the back of a pool and a pot of tea. Good for you.

Welcome to the iSellBeer 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 iSellBeer Nation Facebook group. And now your host. The 1989 winner of the John M. Studebaker Wheelbarrow Race in Hangtown, California. Tracey Neal.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So I am here with Tom Louderback Sr., one of the original owner of Bay Area Beverage from Oakland, California. How are you today, Tom?

Tom Louderback:
Great. Good to see you, Tracy.

Tracy Neal:
Yes, you, too. Thank you for joining me for the iSellBeer Podcast.

Tom Louderback:
This is a fun experience for me.

Tracy Neal:
Now. I when I was a supplier, I called on you.

Tom Louderback:
Yes you did.

Tracy Neal:
Some time and probably some of the best days of your life.

Tom Louderback:
They were great memories.

Tracy Neal:
Good memories. So this podcast is really about your career. And one of the questions and eventually get to get to is that I'll just jump to right now. But tell me about your first day on the job. Now, you were a beer distributor, but you were also a supplier.

Tom Louderback:
I started in the beer industry. Approximately 1964. I went to work for a company called National Brewing Company at Baltimore, Maryland. And they were introducing in those days a new product called Colt 45, a malt liquor. And I was hired for the West Coast as as a regional person and held that job in California for about two and a half years. From there, I was transferred and moved back to Detroit, Michigan, and I lived there for another two years. Mission is my job. As I grew in the industry, it created this brand. I eventually opened. It had the responsibility of opening 28 Western states with the product of Colt 45 was a unique experience, a fun experience, and an experience I never thought I would enjoy having. Having done that, I enjoyed the beer industry, enjoyed the people in it. I enjoyed the history of the beer industry. It's been a very rewarding time for me. After that period of time, I did a lot of traveling. I did a million three hundred thousand miles. My first four years, four and a half years in the company, it was all over...

Tracy Neal:
West coast.

Tom Louderback:
No, back after I moved back to Detroit, started the West Coast. Then they started flying me all over the country, all over literally, including Europe. Long, short as we grew having an issue with my children and whatnot and being away. I wrote a letter to Coors Brewing Company, Miller Brewing Company, and Anheuser-Busch requests he would there be any availability or could I be put on one of their list to become. Auditions are to. Sign up for the opportunity to become a wholesaler. The process was very cumbersome at that point and about a month later I received the call, which kind of humorous from Coors Brewing Company up because of course, Brewing Company fellow named Chuck Courter called me up and he's a division manager. And Chuck called me up and my wife answered the phone and she said, this is Mr. Courter from the Coors Brewing Company. And of course, we're at that time in my age, you've got a group of buddies. You're always talking about what you're going to be doing next. And I thought, here it is, here's Tracy, pull a trick on me. So I grabbed the phone and I said, Okay, Tracy, boom. I'm not interested and hung up, not knowing what the question was going to be. About a minute or so later, the phone rang again. My wife answered the telephone. She says, I think you better take this phone call. This man is with Coors Brewing Company. It's not Tracy. So make he use the word, because that's exactly how we had we started the interview. And of all places, when I applied for my application, there were about 700 people plus with an opening of all places in Oakland, California. Well, the positive thing for me at that point was that I'm familiar with Oakland. I'm familiar with the beer business. And I knew my way around the beer business. That was a plus there. So we had to go through the process and with the course brewing company, very stringent. When you talk about being vetted today, they went through everything in those times. At that time, they did the. Ask people to take a what he calls a lie detector test and whatnot for personality and personal reasons or date, they took your shorts off and got to you for the information. And we we were rewarded with that distributorship. That's the good news. The bad news is I didn't have the money that it would take to do there. So I had two partners come in and we got started. And on March 5th, 1969. We sold our first case of beer.

Tracy Neal:
Do you remember the exact date March 5th, 1969?

Tom Louderback:
I do remember the exact date. Is the data my birthday? So I do recall that date and the first day of selling your first case of beer. I remember getting there. The warehouse, probably 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, getting ready, getting prepared. And we had one brand and one brand only it was Coors and we probably had. 6 SKUs use at that time, plus the draft. It was and we had. Half a dozen trucks with baling wire and whatnot. Keep it in together. We brought out what we had and that was the launch of our career in 1969. And I sold a majority of the company to my son, T.J.. He had been with me over 20 some years doing a hell of a job for the industry and for our company. So that's the evolution of my time in the beer business.

Tracy Neal:
So going back to that, that story of your first day on the job. We take that March 5th, your birthday very specifically. Remember that you sold your first case of beer. Do you recall who you sold it to and maybe what was that interaction like?

Tom Louderback:
I did. And I went I had a favorite spot. Right now, if you recall, in those days, approx 60% plus of sales were on premise and people seemed to want to forget that 60% to 70%. So I remember taking a truck myself and going down to a little hop roll in in Oakland on Broadway. I walked in there the first case of beer and it was my favorite place to go for a quick sandwich was five minutes from my office and our warehouse. So I remember that well.

Tracy Neal:
Now, to put things in perspective from a supplier point of view. You said you'd written letters to Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors.

Tom Louderback:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
I'm guessing because you knew they were expanding and they were looking for wholesalers who are the who are the big players at that time that were that you didn't write a letter to?

Tom Louderback:
Well, they had a lot if I said you go back to PAP's, you go back to...

Tracy Neal:
I guess my point is you wrote a letter to the up and coming.

Tom Louderback:
I went to big three. I went the big three right now because I knew that's where the action would be. And not knowing where they're gonna be. I knew that's where I had to go. But there were a lot of at that point of the beer business. They were all regional. Okay. At that time, Anheuser-Busch was out of St. Louis. That was literally a regional until they start building breweries back in the '60s. So if there were so many other breweries that you could have a my vision at that point, you could not have made a living. And at that point, with other brands other than the big three

Tracy Neal:
So you did go after the big three?

Tom Louderback:
Oh, I did, yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Did any did the other two ever eventually call?

Tom Louderback:
I never heard, never heard from them. Ironically enough we ended up with two of the three being Miller Brewing Company. And at that point Miller Brewing Company of course, Coors.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, so going back to March 5th, 1969 would have been your first day in the industry as a distributor.

Tom Louderback:
As a distributor.

Tracy Neal:
But as a supplier when you were selling Colt 45. Every time anyone gets in this industry, it's always kind of an eye opener. No one seems to have an interesting story about their first day on the job. You remember your first day on the job with with Colt 45?

Tom Louderback:
There was a whirlwind first day on the job. It was a crash sessions for me to be. I was sent back to Baltimore, Maryland, and they literally put us in brewing school for a week. And that week, it was extended to two weeks and it was a day and night 24/7. They're bringing this product out. And they wanted to teach. They literally wanted you to learn about. So hands on, bro. Hands on. Hands on. And that I recall it was it was it was fun at that time, but challenging very child. We had a lot to do. And they had they must have had. They must have had at that point, ten people throughout the United States come in, which I didn't realize is like playing for a team. I didn't realize we're gonna cut half or so hit the end of the two week period. I see some people going home a day or two before I found out that they know they didn't have a job, so I was fortunate at their.

Tracy Neal:
Speaking of teams, you said that when you were awarded the distributorship in Oakland that you were familiar with Oakland. Yeah, right. So I know why you are familiar with Oakland. Tell us a little bit about your career in the NFL.

Tom Louderback:
My career with the NFL. I played with the. I played with the Cleveland Browns. Was injured and traded in those days at a severe ankle injury. Torn ligaments or whatnot, and they put you on the block. And I was traded. I went to Canada that year because the seasons it already restarted. I played a full year in Canada, almost a full year in Canada.

Tracy Neal:
Now, did you play college football?

Tom Louderback:
College football in San Jose State University.

Tracy Neal:
Spartans?

Tom Louderback:
Yeah. It was Spartan.

Tracy Neal:
Was it your. Was it kind of you go when you were in college, were you thinking, I want it? I've heard about the NFL. I want to join the NFL?

Tom Louderback:
It was a goal of mine from day one to achieve that level. Never thought I could, but I wanted to achieve that level. And. I was fortunate in that it would be name dropping in today's world, but one of my teammates to him, you will recognize, as Bill Walsh said, in San Jose State and Dick Vermeil. Both Super Bowl winners are great guys.

Tracy Neal:
So they both played with you San Jose State, huh?

Tom Louderback:
Yeah, we played San Jose State. So when I evolved out a lot of football. At that point, I went and was drafted high and now I'm back. I'm going backwards. But I was when I was drafted after the injury, I went into the candidates. I said earlier. And from there. Again, ironically enough, that the day of my birthday I get drafted into the military. And I was in ROTC at that point, wanted to become a a pilot. My senior year in college, the government changed the two year period of the service to four years and I had signed a contract to go to play ball. And I shouldn't have acted at that point. I wanted to serve our country, but I didn't want to stay there for years. So I had to pay them back by summer camp money and things like that. And when I went into the Navy, those two years were tough years because I had started my family your way from what you wanted to do. But we owed that point. It was very honorable to do your job. When I talked to the young people today and just recently, we had a Raider alumni meeting at training camp and the younger players really get to know you and they find out who you talk to them about your time in the military. They're dumbfounded. They just don't know how to relate to that.

Tracy Neal:
So you were in the military and then you came back to football?

Tom Louderback:
Came back to football and went to Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Eagles. And we had great teams. That goes back to 58 and 59. We won two divisions in those two years. Now I'm up to my 30s and I wanted to get wanted to get back to the West Coast. I wanted to get home. And I asked for. I asked for a trade. And they were reluctant at that point. At that point, after that point. They wanted me to. Come back another year and I wasn't getting the playing time that I wanted there. I needed more time. I wanted to go home. And a late quarterback, George Blanda, was telling me about this new league that was starting in the American Football League. And I said, what do you know about it? He says they're going to have a team, a couple of teams in the West Coast. I said, where, nieces? I'm not sure yet. And sure enough, there was in Oakland. So getting back to getting familiar with Oakland, I did come back, got a release from the Eagles, although later they traded for me. I did get my release there. As far as I know, as of probably unofficially the first player to be treated out of the NFL, to the AFL. So I go to the Raiders and spent two years with them and they were interesting years. The beginning of the Raiders history was just incredible because we didn't know what we had. It was.

Tracy Neal:
So this is Al Davis. Is this his first year, the founding at Raiders year one where you're at the team.

Tom Louderback:
Well, believe it or not, Al Davis wasn't even in the picture.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, really?

Tom Louderback:
No. Al Davis didn't come in to the Raiders into the third year. He plays. He was his assistant coach for the Chargers. In 1960, and '61 he came in in '62 or '62 or '63 and. I never played for Al. I play...

Tracy Neal:
So who's the owner, the original owner?

Tom Louderback:
There were three owners. Three local people, Bob Osborne. Was one of the principles. Trying to think of the name Zellick. Perhaps they'll come to me but make a long, short these three three fellows were were very involved in the community. Chet Soto and Wayne Valley. They had they were tough. They didn't know football and the American Football League at that point was rooting for me. Playing in the NFL and Canada, it was really ragtime because they didn't they wanted to do everything to make it right. They didn't know how to do it. They didn't have the management skills internally at that point. And financially, they were on the cheap. They just. They were builders in what not, as a matter of fact. My second year playing with the readers, I received the honor and more money was called. I was the most valuable player. After that season, they offered me a contract and I would sign the contract. And he said, why won't you sign it? I said, it's just this is ridiculous. At the same time, they said, I want you to read this. They handed me a paper. Read it. They want me to sign a contract that I would take a decrease in pay. I know I'm too old to do that. I'm not going to play it wise. I'm not going to go for that.

Tracy Neal:
And you just won Most Valuable Player.

Tom Louderback:
And I just was the most valuable player and received a bonus that he didn't want to pay me that. It took the way they paid me, was and I offered to do so was to help them in their front office and call on the community to help sell tickets. Now it's a hell of us, a hell of a job to sell a ticket in Oakland to the people in Oakland. When you're playing your first two years, we played in San Francisco. We played it to stadiums. We played at Keyssar Stadium and we played at Candlestick for two years. We never had a home and we...

Tracy Neal:
And didn't realize that either.

Tom Louderback:
By me. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
I didn't know that.

Tom Louderback:
There was a lot of these athletes.

Tracy Neal:
Okies are, huh?

Tom Louderback:
These are all the Okies are exactly. When I was younger, when I was a young man, the first time I went to a game, my father knew a friend. From the beer industry, from the Hamm's Brewing Company, they're located in San Francisco and asked my dad if he'd like to see a game, and my dad said yes. He brought me as his guest. We went to the game to the 49ers, replacing the Cleveland Browns. I couldn't see it as a today in my eyes just lit up like, oh, my good lord, look at this.

Tracy Neal:
So you just dropped a huge nugget on us, right? I mean, you're saying that maybe your fascination with football started any time on account. What age were you when you went to this game with the Hamm's person?

Tom Louderback:
I was probably 14 or 15.

Tracy Neal:
So at age 14 or 15. Beer and football collide for you. Yeah. And you go to Keyssar Stadium to watch the Niners, right?

Tom Louderback:
Yeah. Anywhere's. Yeah. We've never seen any anything like it.

Tracy Neal:
And it was hosted by a by a beer rep from Hamm's.

Tom Louderback:
It was hosted by his. And his name is Buzz McGee. Hell, I could remember that, but I can.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. Were you on the sidelines or just in the seats?

Tom Louderback:
They offered us to go to the sideline. And because of the traffic and find their way into the stadium, we got there just in time for the kickoff. So that's trivia. But that happened. But it was interesting.

Tracy Neal:
Is that what drove you to saying you said in college on day one, I wanted to be in the NFL.

Tom Louderback:
It's interesting.

Tracy Neal:
That experience probably had an impact on you.

Tom Louderback:
A huge impact. Tracy, believe or not, that's exactly what I said. I said that my dad was over with this kid when you do that.

Tracy Neal:
Were you were you involved in any sports at the time? At the age of 14.

Tom Louderback:
No, 14 or 15. I did everything Everyone did everything you played...

Tracy Neal:
Including football?

Tom Louderback:
Well, we didn't have formal football at 14 or 15, and I didn't have it. We started I think I started playing football when as a dove. Oh, maybe just a 40 or 50. I just started playing football at that age and played baseball, played basketball, played tennis. Everybody did everything at that point. But that particular day is interesting. You ask that question. That was a marked, remarkable day for me that I. It's like yesterday I could see it talked to my dad. I said, I want to do this. That's awesome. And he said, Do you do what? I said, I want to be there.

Tracy Neal:
To be on the field or being a football player. How much of the how much of the beer side impact on you? I mean, did you really realize when you were there that you were a guest of a a brewery rep?

Tom Louderback:
I did. Yeah, because my dad told me these tickets come the people in hands. It a hands at that point was a very popular read. Was your dad's connection with hands just. He had a buddy.

Tracy Neal:
Just a friend.

Tom Louderback:
Just a friend. Yeah. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
So you probably left there thinking, I want to play in that field and people who sell beer get good tickets.

Tom Louderback:
The credit combination we look at the way you look back at the big picture.

Tracy Neal:
The irony of that day.

Tom Louderback:
Yeah. Yeah. Irony of that day.

Tracy Neal:
I want to go back to the Philadelphia Eagles real quick, because I know that I've heard rumors that you had a very special roomie, the Philadelphia Eagles, or at least four years ago. In my regards, because I know him to be somewhat famous. But you probably just known as John. So who who's your roommate during the Philadelphia Eagles?

Tom Louderback:
And Philadelphia's John Madden, we were roommates. My wife was having her second child, my second daughter, and she had to go home early the season. And John and I were buddies, and he says, well, why don't we hang together so we. have the in those days, you stay in a hotel, they had apartments in the hotels on the East Coast, and that's how we lived up here for the season there. Became good friends, longtime friends, and then again.

Tracy Neal:
Irony coming together. You're a beer distributor in Oakland. John comes out to Oakland, becomes the Raiders.

Tom Louderback:
When it becomes a Raider. Raiders head coach wins the world's Super Bowl. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
A couple times. A couple times. Yeah. And then also, I know he's at ease at least. Years ago, he was a longtime resident down there and was a Black Hawk area.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. Did he say exactly. Yeah. Yeah, he did. Like Hawks. Right on.

Tom Louderback:
No. He lives in pleasant and pleasant. Yeah. He lives in Pleasant. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. There had been advertised a couple times when he did his his bus tour. He would always show in the '90s where his bus was leaving for Liberia. So do you still stay in touch with John?

Tom Louderback:
Since I live in Reno, Nevada, the. It's difficult to be in touch with him. And John has some setbacks last year with his health. And I understand that he's improved. But it just socially, when I would go to the games to a reader game, a gentleman buta booth, we would hook up and have a tag to beat. It was limited, but it was fun.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, good.

Tom Louderback:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Good, what an awesome experience. And then you said Al Davis came in and about year three. I'm sorry. I'm gonna get back to beer, but I'm just kind of excited about the football, this great football career. And I'm sure some of the listeners, everybody except the folks in Denver maybe might not want to hear about all this talk, but that you played in Denver quite a few times. Right.

Tom Louderback:
We played in Denver. As a matter of fact. It started with the Broncos. I called a 2 for 1. The league started getting pretty rough football's rough period. But after. Players would you would be taken out, be hit. We thought it should have been hit the way they were. So we had a thing as a defensive player that if they put one of our people down, we're taking too out. Started it. Now, look today with the Raiders and look today with the Broncos. There's there's bad blood. Always has it has its back. Yeah, I always had these two for one. But I have great admiration for the Broncos or what they've accomplished. And of course, with the Raiders, the same way they evolved a long, long trip. They evolved great teams.

Tracy Neal:
Now, I heard another story. There's a fellow beer distributor up the road from you in Oakland, in Sacramento, Ken Adams. Oh, yeah. And I heard this story about how you had played against Ken Empson was also former NFL player and played for the Denver Broncos. And you had a couple of games against him.

Tom Louderback:
Kenny and I became good friends, and I really admired Kenny's. Nique person. Great business, man. But I didn't like the money. We're playing football as well in nature. Don't like him. He an offensive guard. Quick.

Tracy Neal:
And your position?

Tom Louderback:
I was a linebacker. So he had to take me out. And he did one time and he and I said Kent had the biggest hands in football because he could. He had a way to manipulate you and hold your jersey and twist you around or whatnot. Totally legal. And I caught him one time with his hand on the ground and took my foot. And I crushes hand purposely. And he got the message. Anyway, years later, we laughed about it. What fun at that particular time. But all those guys from Notre Dame at that point.

Tracy Neal:
Kenny went to Notre Dame, right?

Tom Louderback:
Went to Notre Dame and played with several of them in in some all star games. And they all they all had great names from incredible colleges. But they all hold, you know. And that bothered me.

Tracy Neal:
You said you played in some All-Star games?

Tom Louderback:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Was before the year before it was called the trouble.

Tom Louderback:
Well, after college then was the. I was invited to play the East West game at that point. These West game was one of the two largest bowls a player could be honored to go to, and the best one was the College All-Star Game and that was held in Chicago. At that point, we had 48 states and 48 players and I was once one. I was one of the 48 players selected. But the special event about that we played the Cleveland Browns within were the champions of the NFL and we beat the Cleveland Browns by field goal.

Tracy Neal:
So let me get this straight. The college All-star game took all the college players...

Tom Louderback:
Took 48 players.

Tracy Neal:
Forty-eight college players, and you would play the existing NFL champion.

Tom Louderback:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
Which happened to be the Cleveland Browns. And you guys beat them.

Tom Louderback:
The first team to ever beat it. We are a lot of talent.

Tracy Neal:
That's just great. Some of the, who are some of the guys? Any notable names on that team you recall?

Tom Louderback:
From our guy that Alan Ameche, Alan the horse Ameche from Wisconsin. I guys need to just fly in by my mind right now. Dickie Nagle. Sothern If you got a lot of people from the south and the East Coast. Only a handful of us from the West Coast.

Tracy Neal:
Awesome. Well, thanks for showing all that, so to kind of come back to beer. We left off on March 5th, 1969. You're selling your first case of beer. What were those first three to five years like as a distributor? Because originally you said you had.

Tom Louderback:
It was exciting.

Tracy Neal:
If you said only a few SKUs and one brand. Right.

Tom Louderback:
Yeah. It was exciting. In my world, then it wasn't too good for my family at that point because I worked. Work was never an issue with me. Time was never an issue with the work. I look back at it now with my priorities. Work was first had to that had to happen and I would work. Matter of fact. The first two years, two and a half years of our business, I work seven days a week and break we would take at that point I would take would be going to church. And I just believed I had to work. To build the bids and those were those were good years and they were tough years. However, when you look back at it now. I look at it, reflect with great years to have that opportunity to build there. And thanks for the course brewing company for their understanding. They tolerated me in terms of how to become a distributor. I've become a better distributor. I had a lot of knowledge because they spent those five years on the road working with distributors throughout the country. And as you did, Tracy, you understand that when you work with him, you get a knowledge of what the market's about and what not. But of course, people. We're not the easiest to get along with. Which reminds me there were fair, but they weren't easy to get along with. We had some very difficult times because some of the political issues at the crucial we had to fight and effected the wholesalers. But the thing of matter of how their focus was, there was a. Then the head of the sales was a felony. I don't even know as Tyler I know he ran the sales team, Harvey Gorman and Harvey was kind of a stoic guy. I liked him. He's a break. I loved the beer business. I started my business the first few months. I was 24/7 media. I was on on the dot in the office, in the trade. That's all I knew. That's what I wanted to do to build a business. There was a little on premise account in Alameda. And it went in there one Monday morning. In the core box, taken all the beer out, rotating it. And under the forth case in the box. As a lift up, I look at this business card. Look, I looked at the card is Harvey Korman name on there? They turned the card overseas. Call me when you get this card.

Tracy Neal:
So he'd been in your market. He left in his car.

Tom Louderback:
He'd been in my market. And he had been there. That was on a Monday. I think he was here on Friday or Saturday, ironically enough. I just picked that market. I called them up. And I call them collect and he took the call.

Tracy Neal:
You've called him collect.

Tom Louderback:
I did so that he could call. He said I call him collect. And he started laughing. I got my name. Burst out laughing. So that was that was a. It was something with experience for me to see.

Tracy Neal:
So he was testing you.

Tom Louderback:
Testing me. Oh, yeah, he was testing me.

Tracy Neal:
And got lucky.

Tom Louderback:
Yeah. I did get lucky. Although I did work to work.

Tracy Neal:
You were just working. You were telling me just a moment ago. We had lunch tonight. I tried not to ask you too many things at lunch because I'm saving the questions for the interview here. But I did hear you say that you were in the market with your nephew three weeks ago. I mean, so. Do you mind telling? Tell me.

Tom Louderback:
Not at all.

Tracy Neal:
At your age? How old are you today?

Tom Louderback:
Eighty five.

Tracy Neal:
Eighty five years old. Been in the business for a lot of years.

Tom Louderback:
A lot of years.

Tracy Neal:
And you were telling a story about how you were in the market three weeks ago with your nephew?

Tom Louderback:
No, my grandson.

Tracy Neal:
You grandson.

Tom Louderback:
One of the great, Max Wratten. We went to this restaurant, had a great dinner, and automatically we walk out of the restaurant and there was a Safeway store across the street. We've kind of looked at each other, we just walked across the street up in San Pablo.

Tracy Neal:
So he didn't say anything?

Tom Louderback:
He didn't say a word.

Tracy Neal:
He knew that you wanted to go. And you knew.

Tom Louderback:
We kind of look at waste as the school. He said, great. So we go there, we automatically go, where do you go? You go to the beer box.

Tracy Neal:
The beer box, because this is in your market, right?

Tom Louderback:
It's in the market. I go there anyway. I just like to look at have a habit. And we went in there and and although the box was in fair shape, it should have been a hell of a lot better shape. So we go in there, start pulling beer, beer boxes out and stack in the beer and felt good. Both of us.

Tracy Neal:
Well, I'll tell you what, I'm going to call you and let you know when I interview somebody older than 85 that's stacked beer the last three weeks because I don't think that's going to happen. That's why you.

Tom Louderback:
Want an opportunity. Can you believe. You have your grandson with you.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, that's great.

Tom Louderback:
That's great.

Tracy Neal:
Shown how to stack the beer.

Tom Louderback:
Oh, yeah.

Tracy Neal:
So at what point did Bay Area Beverage I mean, in today's environment, you know, you've gone through several by cells where you've acquired other distributors that were neighbors of yours. You've you've grown out, got out to where you're servicing all of Alameda, Contra Costa County, maybe a couple other County. How many total millions of cases is very of every human today?

Tom Louderback:
I believe we're between eight and 10 right now.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. Eight to ten. Nine. And some of the major acquisitions I know in in the recent years, right? Yeah. There was Constellation years ago. A little while back there was Miller and Miller. But what were some of the bigger ones back in the '70s?

Tom Louderback:
There wasn't a lot. There were malt liquor was believed that was a big one.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Tom Louderback:
Because in our particular market at that point, we only had a portion of Oakland, believe or not, when I entered business, we had one, two, three people served in Oakland. Kind of hard to believe in today's market. How it evolved. So. Well, we started with the Colt 45 and what not. It's a big boom. We started with Colt 45. We started in the malt liquor bids. Is trying to think of the other names that are two or three have been there. And we did a major, major growth with them because at the staticity wise, we sold a lot of beer. The African-American community. And we did very well with it. We built our business around that. And at that point in some parts, that community, of course, was very difficult to sell. They just weren't familiar with it, as they are today in the African-American community. And. Eventually, over time, we were able to get through that.

Tracy Neal:
Now, I've also heard some stories through the consumer network of some of the old days in the '70s and '80s where you were good friends or you still are good friends with Pete Coors now. And I've heard some some hunting stories out there in the duck blinds of Vacaville, Vallejo.

Tom Louderback:
We had a weird. We haven't had a great relationship over these years with Pete. I really admire Pete, admire, the Coors.

Tracy Neal:
You said you have had a great relationship.

Tom Louderback:
Oh, a great relationship. I admire Pete. Remember the day that he came in? In the administrative portion of the business where he's really getting involved and it was a godsend blessing for everyone because he added a lot to them, he had his uncle, his father and his uncle, their two heavyweights, and he had to be the guy as a catalyst to get the company going in another direction of his age range, which was our age range Pete's younger than I. Maybe by 10 years. But at that point, it was very nice.

Tracy Neal:
Guys, when the younger guys.

Tom Louderback:
Yes. The younger guy. But we had a relationship. And in hunting and shooting we did a lot of shooting comp. We did a lot of duck hunting, pheasant shooting. And our friend Gary Styles head up a shoot. We were down in Southern California, get the wholesalers together, and we had this shoot there. I can't recall the Gary shoot there. One shot, whatever we had, but we ended up in a shoot off distributors and. Brewery people, people represented the brewery. And I was one of the distributors to represent the distributors. And we came to a shoot off.

Tracy Neal:
So back before there were golf tournaments, there were supply distributors, shops.

Tom Louderback:
We had to keep Gary came up with the idea. Gary Styles came up with the idea. Here we had we had the shoot off. And the ironic thing about the shoot off is. Pete didn't have a shotgun. I live. I left him my shotgun. To shoot off and he beat me by one target. Oh, yeah. Fun, fun, fun, fun. Good.

Tracy Neal:
So as you think about Bay Area Beverage, it isn't T.J. is actively running Bay Area Beverage. You a little bit more removed from it today?

Tom Louderback:
Well, I am. I'm totally removed from it today.

Tracy Neal:
Living in Reno while the territory is down here in Alameda.

Tom Louderback:
I guess I get as much as I take in as much information as I can. I just love to be aware what's going on. Last week, T.J. and I had a meeting. I just wanted to stop by and say, A, I thought I'd be there for 30 minutes. We talked for two and a half hours just to go over things and get caught up in. It's fun for me.

Tracy Neal:
Well, what what does it. I'm going to preface this question. What one of the first meetings I ever had with you. I came in as your GM for the area and I sat down and I was prepared to talk about pricing and trends and strategies and decisions. I'll never forget you said to me, Tracy, how's your family? And you started to get very intimate with asking how much time I was spending with my sons and what I was doing with my wife. Because I've never forgotten that, because that showed me from the first time I met you that family was really important to you. So what did it mean to you today, not only to have a successful business that you've grown over all these years, but to be able to work with your son, T.J., and your grandson, Max? Are there any other relatives involved and how special is that for you?

Tom Louderback:
Well, it's interesting. You said that the Tracy I remember that day and I was reflecting on all the way I asked you the question or myself. I didn't spend that time with my family and that bothered me. When I reflect on it now and I saw it in you. That's why I'm sure at that point I made that remark. I can't tell you what a joy it was to have T.J. come into the business and grow as he has. I get a great thrill. Above and beyond is what my grandson, Max Straten. He loves the beer business. I mean, he he and I'm proud of that. He does. And he's a worker. He's ah, he's a bright young man and he's a worker.

Tracy Neal:
It's excellent. And I would imagine this family business is going to continue. You know, T.J. is running now and Max is getting involved and who knows, there may be great grandkids, after great grandkids, great grandkids. What what message would you want to leave for the great, great grandkids who might listen to this 25 years from now to learn about great, great grandpa who started Bay Area Beverageand played for the Oakland Raiders? What kind of message would you on? Leave them about the business and about the business.

Tom Louderback:
The business has been very good to me. The business has been incredible to be with family business a bit incredible to see the growth and the potential that we have. Succession is important. It's always been important to me. If you with great grandkids and I have several, OK, God is willing that they will have the same opportunity. And I'll be there for them. They'll have to earn it, though. They should have to earn it. That's what's important.

Tracy Neal:
Good. And lastly, before I start to wrap this up, is there even out there in the industry you want to give a shout out to? Maybe. Thank you for anyone that helped you get started in the early days with Colt 45 or the early days with Coors or the early days of Bay Area Beverage. As I've interviewed people, they've kind of used this platform to say, hey, thank you so and so and thank you so itself for helping me get my career off the ground and for the successes or the pivotal points that I went through with you.

Tom Louderback:
You stopped me. You caught me on this one because there are so many there is so many people that have been. I'm grateful for that. I'd say it mentioned earlier from a supplier Coors Brewing Company. We went through some good times, but I tell you we had some hard times. And they were there. Bill Coors incredible, incredible man. Pete Coors, incredible man. All these names, frankly, are just flying by me to put a handle on. But along the way, I am grateful everyone where I have been in the industry. It reflects your kind of. You caught me off guard with that one. In a way it is. But if I have more likely. Pass a lot of people done with intent. Just a matter of time I reflect to crawl. I don't have a one individual per say, but put them all together. From day one, I could go back to my bankers. I can go back to to Coors Brewing Company had a man that managed the money called Dwayne Alderson. His name was Cash. We call them Xash only because when you knew Duane, that means you had to pay cash. People like that that were there to support you. It comes to mind. It's just a lot of neat people. Excellent.

Tracy Neal:
Well, Tom, it's been my honor to not only sit with you today, but to call on you as a distributor. Thank you for taking the time to give me some advice and some guidance and coaching along the way. It's been a pleasure talking to you. Sure enjoyed your story. And again, let's let's do this again. It was fun.

Tom Louderback:
Tracy, thank you very much. Good to see you guys.

Tracy Neal:
Thank you. 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 the distributor's sales rep. You can become a part of the iSellBeer Nation by subscribing to this podcast and using the #iSellBeer in all your social posts. Also, be sure to join the iSellBeer Nation Facebook group and visit our website. Our industry is an up and down the street business where local relationships matter. I want to thank you for making me a part of your day and wish you good luck on the objectives for your next account call. In fact, I know you're gonna crush it.

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