Ep. 007: Mike Fox, Bay Area Legend

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur
adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

007 Mike Fox_2.mp3 transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

007 Mike Fox_2.mp3 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Mike Fox:
My stepmother owned the San Francisco 49ers, Josephine Morabito.

Tracy Neal:
Wait wait. Slow down. Your stepmother owned the San Francisco 49ers.

Mike Fox:
My father and her were married 25 years and then she died and she owned the 49ers and her husband Tony Morabito funded them. Okay. And she owned the team and I could have bought the team while it was being sold.

Tracy Neal:
My guest for episode number seven is Mike Fox. Mike is the former owner for ME Fox Distributing in Santa Clara, California and he has since retired. Selling his business to both Anheuser-Busch and DBI Beverage in the San Jose area of California. Mike invited me into his home just before Christmas this last year where we had a wonderful conversation. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. iSellBeer presents to you. Mike Fox

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.

Tell. Him we need all the freakin chips chip

The point. Don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with names all day.

We have a pain in the back a pool and a pot. Of tea. Good for you.

Welcome to the iSellBeer podcast with Tracy 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, Tracy Neal.

Tracy Neal:
Thank you for letting me be here today. Thanks for being on the podcast. So you've been in the beer business for how many years?

Mike Fox:
Well 58 years probably.

Tracy Neal:
Fifty eight years and...

Mike Fox:
At least that or more. Who knows. I know I started when I was about 13 probably.

Tracy Neal:
So it started when you were 13. Okay so that brings up my my kind of marquee question for this podcast. Do you remember the very first day on the job?

Mike Fox:
My father was general manager of a small brewery in Holton Michigan called the Bosch Brewing Company a very small broad add about a hundred thousand barrels a year. And Summer came along and they hired me to do various odd jobs around the brewery at the time in 1952 there was a big strike in Milwaukee all the Milwaukee breweries were on strike. Schlitz and Miller and everyone and my father's little brewery up in Michigan was supplying beer to Schlitz wholesaler in Green Bay Moscow Wisconsin a very large wholesaler. His name was Marshall Bayless. That was the name.

Tracy Neal:
Marshall Bayless. All right.

Mike Fox:
And Marshall had a big list distributorship in Green Bay. And what Marshall had was empty Schlitz bottles.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. Because they were returnables, I think.

Mike Fox:
Returnable bottles.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Mike Fox:
And the Bosch Brewing Company didn't want to invest in new bottles. So we got the bottles from Marshall which is sort of a sub roles activity. He was shipped the bottles up to our brewery and then the unpacking was unpacked the bottles and the cases had to be burned so there wouldn't be any evidence of this.

Tracy Neal:
Any evidence that these were Schlitz bottles?

Mike Fox:
Litter Schlitz bottles.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
So I had a dump truck and they put all the empty cartons into the dump truck and I would back him to a place to burn them. And that was that I did that for several several days.

Tracy Neal:
So you were driving a truck at 30?

Mike Fox:
Right the dump truck.

Tracy Neal:
Well what was the. Did you have a driver's license or was the driver's license a little different back then?

Mike Fox:
No, probably that was, I was on private property.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
Unruly property. And so what's the most significant thing after several days it was on this stuff called copper slag which is now a very stable ground and the dump truck started sliding into the fire. I jumped the dog truck all that burned up.

Tracy Neal:
The whole truck burned.

Mike Fox:
The whole truck, everything.

Tracy Neal:
And what did your dad say when the truck burned up?

Mike Fox:
It was an old truck. So he was even worried about too much.

Tracy Neal:
So now let me back up just a little bit though because when you were at the time you said your dad was the vice president of the Minneapolis Brewing Company.

Mike Fox:
Right at that time.

Tracy Neal:
Did they use a distributor back then?

Mike Fox:
Oh yeah. They had several distributors.

Tracy Neal:
Okay so you you had exposure to the three tier network.

Mike Fox:
Oh yeah.

Tracy Neal:
And you. Well what was it. What was the relationship like being on the brewery side and the distributor side. You were on the brewery side right?

Mike Fox:
Well I was I know I was on both sides you might say.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
And I worked Morgan St. Paul Minnesota. And the. It was a job. And then. And then my father moved to San Francisco and became vice president the Hamm Brewing Company. And.

Tracy Neal:
So that's what brought your family out west.

Mike Fox:
And that was brought us.

Tracy Neal:
Your father got a job as vice. He went from Minneapolis Brewing Company to Hamm's and moved to San Francisco. What year did your father come to San Francisco?

Mike Fox:
Oh, that was 1960.

Tracy Neal:
Nineteen Sixty? Okay.

Mike Fox:
Nineteen Sixty. And.

Tracy Neal:
Quite a few other things happening in San Francisco in the '60s right?

Mike Fox:
I was I went through all those 1960s and.

Tracy Neal:
We were you a hippie?

Mike Fox:
No I wasn't but I was so I went through the hippie stuff everything.

Tracy Neal:
The Haight Ashbury, right?

Mike Fox:
All the Haight Ashbury and everything.

Tracy Neal:
So you didn't have a ponytail?

Mike Fox:
No I didn't. I was I looked like an FBI agent walking into a bar with a suit and tie the.

Tracy Neal:
And you're working with your dad or what was your role?

Mike Fox:
Well no I was at the brewery subsidized people for the distributors the distributors weren't doing very well because they had all labor problems.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
So the brewery subsidized actually it was an Anheuser-Busch and Hamm's subsidize the distributors and paid our salaries.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
So we were quasi brewery employees but under the aegis of distributors.

Tracy Neal:
I would say labor problems are you talking about the union challenges of the '60s. Okay.

Mike Fox:
Yeah and then when they cut out their brewery branch they went to distributors in the stores where they laid off 500 people and all that was was minimal to what the stories were. One fellow that came under my purview was a guy named Luke. And Luke had as you wrote wrote down the five cases with all it would sell. He got everyone to throw out the beer. So I was the one to get the beer back in all these accounts. Okay. And I was very young. But I got along with the unions very well the Teamsters Union and did very very well. And. And then through all my efforts Sarah the president the Hamm Brewing Company I said Stay with us and I'll take care of you. OK fine Mr. Fay you'll take care of me. When. And I waited about another year and finally. It came to pass. Now I'm going to take of you. He said I'll make you a distributor. I said I don't want to be a distributor.

Tracy Neal:
Why why wouldn't you want to be a distributor?

Mike Fox:
Because I wanted to be a brewery guy.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
When I went into my brewing background I like the brewery.

Tracy Neal:
You had the brewing education right?

Mike Fox:
Okay, I said fine. Well we have a little distributorship in. Santa Clara California where is split in two. You can have half of it.

Tracy Neal:
So Santa Clara is a little more popular today than it was 50 years ago even even 10 years ago because that's the home of the San Francisco Niners. New Levi's Stadium so a lot of people now understand that Santa Clara is essentially next door neighbors to San Jose.

Mike Fox:
I had six six or outs eight rules to draft beer rods and six package rods to salesman. I was the nemesis of Anheuser-Busch because I he wanted exclusivity and I was a most unexclusive person in the world.

Tracy Neal:
You had quite the portfolio right? Oh yeah and I believed in. I represented Gordon bearish period all microbreweries. I had a real affinity for them and saw the saw the potential there. August Busch had his head in the sand. He had a bunch of yes men around him who. Just did whatever August wanted and mimicked every word of August and they were scared to death of them.

Tracy Neal:
And which August is this?

Mike Fox:
This is August III.

Tracy Neal:
Three sticks?

Mike Fox:
Yeah. And so I. But I want to just land as a Busch all the way in. And wrote through many many letters all legally couched and they couldn't touch me. Everything they tried to try to make me miserable and they didn't.

Tracy Neal:
I will come back to that in a minute. As we know you've sold the business around years ago and I want to talk definitely about that but I also want to kind of rewind back to what it was like to start a distributorship. I mean it wasn't too long ago that you were involved in your own distributorship. I know it's changed quite a bit. Yeah we've got a lot of sales reps and people you know we say on this podcast it's for people driving around all day selling beer.

Mike Fox:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
So we've got a lot of young sales reps that maybe don't know this history. I think it's good for them to get. But it's also good to hear from you who was there what was it like to start a distributorship and what year are we in?

Mike Fox:
Nineteen sixty-five.

Tracy Neal:
Nineteen sixty-five. Okay.

Mike Fox:
What it was what it was like. It was just a lot of hard work morning and night. It was just work work work day and night And I. And I said you know pay for my drinking and that's just a habit.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Mike Fox:
And I did very well I had a great excuse to be out drinking an excuse that to be a problem and then I was one of the preliminary founders of MADD that took Candy Lightner through the legislature to get a lot of legislation passed on drinking and driving.

Tracy Neal:
Really. Yeah. Okay. So this is interesting because you're you're you're opening up you're sharing with some of your challenges of being an alcoholic and drinking but then you you made the decision to help impact society and make it good by working with Candy Lightner in the establishment of MADD. I did not know that.

Mike Fox:
No I. And the breweries were sort of against me as well. We need education not legislation. I said well leave it to me. Well you need both.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So you helped was MADD established here in.

Mike Fox:
South to Sacramento in Sacramento.

Tracy Neal:
In Sacramento, okay.

Mike Fox:
Which later came out of Sacramento.

Tracy Neal:
And was California. Sorry I don't know all these details but was California with the first one to be a drought in driving right.

Mike Fox:
Probably the biggest one.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
And then there was another organization called SADD. Students Against Driving Drunk and I became active in that. And my problem on that the guy's guy's name was Bob Masters and he was a hockey coach and his hockey team got killed in an accident and his whole mantra was to have a designated driver. And I said I said this in the Congress. So at the Strom Thurmond's committee. We're going to end up a nation of drunks that don't drive because everyone. I drive. But they cause more emotional difficulties in the home so I was very much against the designated driver. So what well you want people killed I said I'm not saying that. I just think there's more carnage and emotional stuff. Yeah. And not driving because when I met Alonzo because they didn't drive but they get drunk all the time. Yeah. And the emotional carnage in alcoholism is great and not just the driving.

Tracy Neal:
So you supported Candy Lightner in establishing MADD, did you financially support that as well?

Mike Fox:
Oh yes. Yeah. As time went on I was quite well.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
I mean several thousands was that.

Tracy Neal:
Did your suppliers finally come along to...

Mike Fox:
They weren't they. They didn't want legislation that they didn't like anything. They wanted. They didn't like any legislation they wanted education.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
But education still hasn't done it.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
And so I was active and then I was sort of a maverick and things and all they have these beer drinking contests and the college, reps I never went along with that but they they sent a letter out saying if Coors has three reps you have four and that. And it just Stanford was a hotbed of problems and drinking.

Tracy Neal:
Stanford was?

Mike Fox:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
And how far are we from Stanford here? Five miles?

Mike Fox:
No. Twenty miles.

Tracy Neal:
Twenty miles. Okay.

Mike Fox:
And Stanford had a lot of problems. And so I would never have any college reps they cause nothing but trouble. And all they want to do is sell better fraternities and people and the young girls would come to the fraternity houses the high school girls and get drunk and everything else. We had a bad case here of a judge this didn't sentence a guy properly and the judge got recalled first time.

Tracy Neal:
You're talking recently recently, right?

Mike Fox:
Recently, this was 2013 judge Persky got recalled because he gave the guy a six six month sentence sentence and the public thought he should add more and I was a it was a I was all for judicial independence and yet public opinion overruled that. And Judge Persky got that. Take it off the bench.

Tracy Neal:
So it sounds like even though you're your roots are in beer you're educations in beer your experience and your families and beer and even though I'm sure that you're a huge fan of responsible enjoyment of beer that you're also a big advocate against the abuse of our product.

Mike Fox:
Alright and the beer. Beer is a wonderful thing. I mean there was a poem written by a guy I don't know his name but talked about how beer goes to the opera. Beer goes the football game goes the baseball. Beer is everywhere beer belongs fact the U.S. be a as those who use that as a slogan. Beer is a great great product. When you understand the agricultural beer the barley there's malls of the hops and everything is grown. It's all part of godliness. You might say Oh rain water and sunlight. And good soil. So a beer is a real product of nature and of the people and beer really belongs it belongs everywhere.

Tracy Neal:
So going back to the distributor era, great stories and responsibility by the way I think I commend you and I'm sure a lot of people across the country say thank you for being a pioneer in that area. But you were a distributor for some amazing years here and not only amazing years in the industry but specific to the San Francisco Bay Area. All right. I mean you've got the let's see the San Francisco 49ers on their five time run right now.

Mike Fox:
My stepmother owned the San Francisco 49ers, Josephine Morabito.

Tracy Neal:
Wait wait wait wait. Slow down, your stepmother owned the San Francisco 49ers?

Mike Fox:
My father and her were married 25 years and then she died and she owned the 49ers and her husband Tony Morabito funded them.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
And she owned the team and I could have bought the team when it was being sold. I had to put up a million dollars sold for about 20 million.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
And the AFL and Oakland had to give money. And then you had the TV contracts. My friend George Couch a distributor still in that.

Tracy Neal:
Yep, George is, Couch Distributing right now towards Santa Cruz right?

Mike Fox:
Right. And George said let's buy the team and each of us had to come up with a million dollars. George George didn't have any kids. I had five or six kids in college. I said all I have is a million dollars. I can't risk it. I got to send the kids to college so we didn't buy the 49ers for 20 million. What about it. Within a million dollars out of pocket and I said George I don't know a damn thing about football. He said you don't have to so now 49ers worth over a billion.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Mike Fox:
And that was my foray into that. So I've always had a relationship with 49ers.

Tracy Neal:
I'm sure you and George have had some would have could have should have beers over that conversation.

Mike Fox:
You know I've done this done so well and everything. I mean I made millions and millions of dollars given millions of dollars away to charities and it's been a very good life. I guess I can't say I would have sure I could have I could have bought in with Steve Jobs and.

Tracy Neal:
Did you meet Steve Jobs when he was...

Mike Fox:
Well. You know I never met Steve I knew Wozniak but but of a guy named Nolan Bushnell was with Steve.

Tracy Neal:
Bushnell from Atari.

Mike Fox:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
And he also built Chuck E. Cheese's right?

Mike Fox:
On his first game was an Atari game called Pong.

Tracy Neal:
Pong, yeah.

Mike Fox:
In his bar. This was in the tavern the original pong game. And I would go to the tavern. So a lot of beer for me next Navy pilot on the tavern. And I'd see this pong game. And he said Nolan needs money. Nolan needed a $20,000. And he came to me to buy low on the 20 pounds. I said I can't this year because of a covenant with the bank I'm borrowing money from them and I can't loan the money to you. He said Well I have to go elsewhere. Which he did. And that was the beginning of Atari, $20,000.

Tracy Neal:
You know I thought I was sitting down to talk to a beer veteran and I'm getting an NFL backstory, a Steve Jobs, Wozniak backstory, and Atari back story, Chuck E. Cheese backstory. What else have you. These are all great backstories.

Mike Fox:
So I know Nolan and he went on to many many things.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Mike Fox:
And he worked for Steve too. And I never met Steve, I met Wozniak but I never met Steve Jobs. That's amazing. I know everybody down here. A guy I really know was John Sculley who had been with Pepsi.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. John Sculley came over to Pepsi.

Mike Fox:
And then he went to...

Tracy Neal:
And he was the CEO for Jobs and he's the one that actually along with the board kicked out Steve Jobs in the '90s, right?

Mike Fox:
Right. And Mike Markula took over. But I was in that, it was Scully. Scully was always talking to me and everyone was trying to get to Scully. And nobody could get to Scully is very aloof and they see me at various banquets and I was what the hell is Fox doing with Scully. He's always gets closer. They're talking chips. Scully loved the potato chip business because his head of Frito Lay. Okay. And he loved to talk about Eagle's snacks.

Tracy Neal:
And this was in the '90s when Anheuser-Busch kind of tested Eagle Snacks distributorship?

Mike Fox:
And Scully loved it. I sent him the Eagle's Snacks and he. He loved this potato chip business and that's what Scully they were talking about. It was semiconductor chips. They're talking chips all the time and everyone was mad because I had Scully's. And so some of our younger listeners may not know this but Anheuser-Busch just to kind of backtrack experimented in the salty snacks segment. Was it mid late '90s about that. Yeah about the late 90s and they actually had all their Anheuser-Busch beer distributors distributing was it was their beef jerky involved too I think.

Mike Fox:
No, moves in some parts of the country. But but I did very well I was the only one making money in the snacks and then they went out the snack business.

Tracy Neal:
But they were trying to actually make a run against competing at Frito-Lay because was so dominant.

Mike Fox:
Well Frito-Lay had 50 percent of the market and Eagles Snacks had about 5%. They had the quality...

Tracy Neal:
And the trucks went to the same stops.

Mike Fox:
That's right.

Tracy Neal:
Anheuser-Busch figured why not.

Mike Fox:
Well I had a separate division on the Eagles Snacks. I ran 10 trucks I went all the way to Carmel with that.

Tracy Neal:
And you made good money with it you're saying.

Mike Fox:
I started making money I lost money in the beginning that I made money at the end and then as I was gaining a small payment about a quarter of a million dollars when I went out of business I was the only one making money. And I sort of know what to do.

Tracy Neal:
I think I heard another good story about you with Red Bull.

Mike Fox:
Oh yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Well you one of the early early Red Bull guys?

Mike Fox:
Second distributor with Red Bull. That went very well. I got that. And as a second distributor that is a great company and is very very successful. And. We had separate routes on that.

Tracy Neal:
Was it in 1995, 1996? When you picked up Red Bull.

Mike Fox:
You know, a friend of mine and I was in New York the guy name Jerry as a writer.

Tracy Neal:
I know Jerry commercially very well.

Mike Fox:
Jerry and I are great friends. And he told me about, he said this Red Bull.

Tracy Neal:
Do you know who told Jerry about Red Bull by the way?

Mike Fox:
Who?

Tracy Neal:
You did.

Mike Fox:
Really?

Tracy Neal:
I did. I was with Jerry in Seattle and I had been recruited by a headhunter from Red Bull I was flown down to Pacific Palisades. I interviewed for the job I tasted the product and I said no thank you I went back to Seattle that following Monday Jerry and I were out in the marketplace together looking at new product because that's where things he was doing think he was with Advertising Age at the time.

Mike Fox:
Yeah right.

Tracy Neal:
And I told him I said by the way I just had this new product at it taste horrible. It's probably not going to go anywhere. That's why I turned down the job. But you should look into it.

Mike Fox:
Well Jerry and I had lunch at the Four Seasons and it's a story just about the same thing. He said I don't know about bosses thing but here it is and I said that I. I said my son's meeting with them today. So I called Michael up and I said Michael grab it. And he. Michael was always negative against stuff. And I said grab it which we did. And then we got San Mateo County and everything had a great. A great career. Red Bull made a lot of money. But boy they're tougher now. No contracts nothing. They're they they bought all my trucks and gave me some money I got about six hundred thousand dollars out of Red Bull what that was but it made a lot more over the year. All right. Over the years we went we went we made a fortune on Red Bull. In fact that's one of the factors why we sold out because it was eminent that Red Bull was going to go to their own. Yeah. Their own distribution division.

Tracy Neal:
They still use a lot of beer distributed accorss the country. But here in California. Especially Northern California they have the Red Bull distribution network.

Mike Fox:
Right in the Southern California. So we saw the writing on the wall as a Red Bull goes we're in trouble. So that was that was one of the reasons why we sold out because we didn't know the future of Red Bull and the contract.

Tracy Neal:
What was one of the more memorable beer launches of your area. One of them one of the.

Mike Fox:
Probably two interesting things one. One was called Right Time.

Tracy Neal:
Right time.

Mike Fox:
Right time was called right time came out of the wrong time and not the tiger the right time was a non-alcoholic. It was actually a malt liquor.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
They couldn't call it they call it a flavored beer. And it came in four different flavors tropical Apple. And I don't know the others but we were very good. Santa Clara County was. Always like something new. And that right time went over just perfectly here and we were probably the number one distributor on right time which was it couldn't call a mall liquor it had to be called a non alcoholic.

Tracy Neal:
And who owned Right Time?

Mike Fox:
Hamm started that.

Tracy Neal:
It was a Hamm's Product. Okay.

Mike Fox:
And it was a decent product at the wrong time had the name of it then definitely not the name right time. But to be able to categorize it as something other than non-alcoholic flavored beverage.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
Put it on and I was against all that stuff for many many years especially all the craft beer stuff. I said those guys belong in brewmaster hell I was all real high school guy in high water hops Cece Houston wall and then we were brewing was chocolate and everything else but all very successfully and we have Roy Moore Canada Dry. So we need a flavor for every taste and that's what the beer business didn't have. You know the craft breweries have brought that enter. Great. I mean great variety and great great romance and everything.

Tracy Neal:
What about from a beer launch perspective. Would it have been I mean you've had a beer Nick Loeb families back in the day?

Mike Fox:
I love I was the number one guy in my club in California did very well on that. The number of my then real like the ham growing game came out with a draft beer in a can.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Mike Fox:
And the can was shaped like a barrel. And that was a very successful launch. I did very well on that.

Tracy Neal:
What year was this?

Mike Fox:
Oh I don't know what year the draft can you weren't even born yet. Probably Terence I don't know.

Terence Fox:
I remember the Hamm's mini cake.

Mike Fox:
No that was that was the tapper cake. The tapper cake we did very well on that.

Tracy Neal:
So Terence Mike's son just joined us on the couch here. Your voice is probably a little distance away from the microphone but.

Mike Fox:
That the what the tapper keg was very good and that went out of business because of technical difficulties. The. Kids up in Sanford aren't learned how to backwash the keg and fill it with water and then take it back to the liquor store. So I never worked.

Tracy Neal:
And returned it.

Mike Fox:
And we returned. So you give him the money back.

Tracy Neal:
This is this is genius. So he was a college kids would take the keg keg drink all of it drink all the beer fill it back a while back. Well what backwash water into it return it and say it out and said it was defective.

Mike Fox:
And a lot of effective Reynolds aluminum was behind that. And then we got into recycling with the runs alone where the first recycling center in California did a lot of work on recycling.

Tracy Neal:
That's amazing. Good job.

Mike Fox:
Oh yeah. We started out. My two sons doesn't parents would not Terrence but does Michael. Every Saturday we recycle. For 10 cents a pound and we're open on Saturday so people could.

Tracy Neal:
So consumers would bring their station wagons for cans all of them cans. Okay.

Mike Fox:
And so we really got in the recycling and I got very big in the legislation of. Container it's both in the state of California and also 90s 90s. That they did not mean that I was in the Congress and so we started with bottles and cans and when he left we're still talking bottles and cans and the Oregon was a bell ringer of all that. And we were sort of against all that but I I felt the recycling business all the way down to what we call air classifiers they could pick out a paperclip out of a garbage sight. Wow. That million dollar machines as a machine goes over the trash it goes over recycling every et such things that recycle. Yeah. And that's where steel cans were better.

Tracy Neal:
That make me feel better as a consumer when I recycle most things but every once in a while I might throw something in there that that I don't retrieve.

Mike Fox:
The steel can was actually better because it could be picked up like that with a magnet.

Tracy Neal:
Magnetically?

Mike Fox:
aluminum couldn't be an aluminum cans were made out of bauxite which is a. Product that's scarce. And. I remember one time I saw home before a city council on container deposits and I was talking about steel cans being biodegradable. And this woman got up and she said Yes Mr. Fox there here is a corn top. Can whether they had a cap on the can. OK. This hasn't been manufactured and I don't know 30 years. And yet I found this in Nevada sitting in the forest this corn top can this biodegradable it's 30 years old. Tell me about biodegrade ability to the American Association of University Women. I went through all the recycling stuff. California quote. The California constitution that they didn't have any purview over beer that only the state did legislate against beer. But I went all through the recycling container deposit says there's a horrendous time now sugar is the big thing. Yep. Here's the big thing.

Tracy Neal:
Tell me about how compensation has changed with sales reps. You know I mean. Yeah back in the day what was it. Was it just a job and at some point time commission came in and then incentives. You know there's been a big evolution in terms of how to motivate sales reps to sell more beer.

Mike Fox:
Yes. It's very difficult in an area like Santa Clara County when I started out drivers were making one hundred and fifty dollars a week sales and I was making ten or 15 dollars a week more. And that was in 1965. It didn't progressed too much. Coke and Pepsi were a little bit ahead on wages but to live in Santa Clara County is impossible. You have two or three people living together and.

Tracy Neal:
Because of cost of, cost of housing cost of land.

Mike Fox:
So it's very difficult compensation wise and I never had any union problems. Know I'd settle everything right away. I mean you couldn't deny people the money.

Tracy Neal:
Did you ever. Did you maintain the same footprint from 1965 or did you ever bought...

Mike Fox:
We kept we kept growing and growing. OK. We grew by an additional territory see one additional charity and we won't need additional territories with red bull. OK. There basic footprint was well we we went and said well we did it I get us and a few other brands. We went to.

Terence Fox:
We did. We expanded outside of our Anheuser-Busch footprint out of necessity because our demographic Tracy in the northern part of the county is has always been for 30 plus years very affluent. We had the high tech and venture capital guys that they drink when they drink they drink nice whiskey bourbons fine wines and. And if they drink a beer it's. A very high end beer. But our neighboring Anheuser-Busch distributor did not want fancy beer because they had a much different demographic in order for us to pick up these additional brands. We had to go outside of range which footprint about 10 years ago Dave Peacock at the time was the BP sales and marketing for Anheuser-Busch had a very famous quote at the end of the convention after in bed bought them and called distributors like us insidious because we were encroaching upon another distillers territory. We obviously saw things much different than what Dave Peacock said at the time. We were doing what any distributor has to do and has always had to do which is have a portfolio of products not just beer but anything that the consumers in their in their area want.

Tracy Neal:
Who are some of your mentors. I don't know if they were maybe suppliers or business people.

Mike Fox:
The greatest man I ever had was a guy named Orion Burkhardt with with Anheuser-Busch. He was sorry I was Bush brands.

Tracy Neal:
So not everybody at Anheuser-Busch.

Mike Fox:
No well they're all pretty good guys. They all were in the days of gutsy August came in things where everyone is scared to death. But Orion Burkhardt. His mantra was packaged by package. Row by row displays displays and more displays. And if you follow that in the beer business you'll be.

Tracy Neal:
Packaged by package row by row.

Mike Fox:
Row by row package by package displays displays.

Tracy Neal:
And more displays.

Mike Fox:
And brand by brand. We went into and that was Orion was just a great fellow to sign up a distributor somewhere in North Carolina. And George Couch's father was a great mentor too. He was general sales manager Anheuser-Busch.

Tracy Neal:
George Couch whose couch is really now. His father was in the...

Mike Fox:
His father was a V.P. at sales and marketing.

Tracy Neal:
What was his father's name?

Mike Fox:
George.

Tracy Neal:
George also, okay.

Mike Fox:
And then there was another guy John Watson who came from Procter & Gamble and he was a Michael O'Brien manager who was a brilliant guy.

Tracy Neal:
So Terence tell me. We've been talking about your dad's career. You obviously grew up in the beer business. You know all the store. I mean I didn't. I had no idea I was gonna sit down and learn about potential ownership in the San Francisco 49ers. Friends with John Sculley working with the guy from Bushnell from Chuck E. Cheese and Atari all the great things that your dad's done sum up to me what it means to have your dad's legacy in business not only in this area but in this industry.

Terence Fox:
It's a very big legacy. I certainly do miss. I miss our business I miss seeing our our trucks running up and down the street. I miss our people. We are we had a great employee base and many of them went to go work for the Anheuser-Busch wide as well as DBI Beverage and I'll see our guys on the truck. They know my car and it's kind of fun and I'll be driving and I can be at a stoplight and I've got a tractor trailer blowing the horn and giving you a horn saying Hey boss what are you doing. But my dad certainly had a very outstanding legacy throughout Santa Clara County which everyone knows is Silicon Valley back when it was just fruit orchards. We had FMC build in tanks out on Coleman road and we had Lockheed and Moffett Field Naval Air Station and that's all that was really out here. And you know my dad was at the forefront of everything from getting hospitals built to infrastructure with with roads and bond measures and he was a beer distributor. Beer distributors throughout America. A lot of these family run beer distributors have big impacts on their local communities. Absolutely. And unfortunately I think that's one of the thing the beer. One of the things the beer industry is losing through all this consolidation you know cutting our business going away is that that really impactful charismatic owner who's in the marketplace every day in our family. Certainly.

Tracy Neal:
When the philanthropic empire that. The philanthropic efforts not just from a financial standpoint you said being involved in the community that's something that I see as I talk to distributors across the country. It's it's not written in the manual anywhere but beer distributors know that part of our job is to support our communities. Absolutely yeah. With time and finances.

Mike Fox:
The impact we have in the legislatures with that. Yeah tremendous tremendous legislative Couch. Well all of them have.

Tracy Neal:
What's for Terrance. What's one of what's one of your favorite stories about your dad in the beer industry.

Terence Fox:
Gosh one of my favorite stories here is one we went into the old wagon wheel saloon up in Mountain View back where the the early tech guys used to used to go and I was delivering what I think was around 1986 and I had a two kegs a mic globe about 20 cases a Budweiser returnable bottles. We had just picked up Heineken at the time so I had a few cases a Heineken and Perrier water. We had period water so I brought a couple of cases in there and talking to the bar owner get the invoice signed I signed my name and he says You're my son and he's in a gruff voice like a bar owner would do and I said yeah I'm Terrence and I say hello and he says you're nothing like your father. And I said well we've got some similarities as your dad what about everybody here a beer a Budweiser beer. And I said Well you know I. That's very generous of him. But I don't have any money on me. That's exactly why you're not like your dad because he'd walk in here with a fistful of dollars and every man would have a Budweiser or a Michelob sitting in front of him before he left the door. So that's that's an example of kind of how my dad was known amongst many of our customers.

Tracy Neal:
Nice. Well and then also we were talking about some of the we just mentioned some of the philanthropic things what it was one of the things that you're most proud of that your dad's done not associated with beer.

Terence Fox:
I mean it's the impact that not just my dad but my mom and our whole family has had on this valley is big. There's too numerous to think about. But you know some of the things is I'll give you an example about my oldest son Ryan is 18 years old and when he was about 17 about 17 years ago and he was one he went into I think was am anaphylactic shock. I butchered it but he had taken some medicine that he had he had a cold and he reacted very negatively to his breathing was very slow. He was motionless. It was almost as if he was in this catatonic state and as a new parent my new parents my wife and I were we. We pant. We didn't know what to do. So my wife called nine one one and I said hey Valley Medical Centers two and a half miles away I can get there real quick. Put him in the car seat restroom to the hospital go through the emergency room and you know in the in the hospital there was a plaque committed commemorating my mom and dad for what they had done which was kicked off the campaign to raise money for Valley Medical Center here in Santa Clara County which back in the '70s and '80s was a very small rudimentary facility. If you go today it is a world class trauma center. I mean if you are in a very bad accident in the San Francisco Bay area you need a life flight helicopter they're going to either take you to a Stanford Hospital or Valley Medical Center. So you know I saw the impact personally. My son I would have given anything in the world to have my son get better and fortunately within a few hours the doctors got him back to normal everything was great and I really saw firsthand the impact of the philanthropy that my mom and dad had done at Valley Medical Center which which directly impacted me. And I know that over the last 20 years there literally have been found tens of thousands of people other families were in much worse situations than my wife and I were in with our son. He went home that night. It was great. But everything from people who've been burned to paralyzed you know heart attacks strokes. We now have a world class medical facility here. And my my dad and my mom really kicked off the campaign to raise the funds for that so that would be an example of one of the things I'm very proud of what they've done.

Tracy Neal:
I'm one of the questions I was going to ask that I haven't asked yet. But I'm starting to realize the answer as I talk to you and your father I'm realizing what the Fox family is about. And so the question I'm going to want to answer my own question by the way but my question was going to be what's it like not being in the beer business anymore and I think the answer if I can paraphrase we think the answer is something like we came we did a really good job and our family is about so much more than just that that it was the right time for us to be able to continue to impact the community our own families and other things. Am I close?

Terence Fox:
Very close. Yeah I mean your first question is what's it like to be out of the beer business. I miss it. I did not feel the stress that we had as a smaller distributor dealing with consolidation pressures dealing with family pressures dealing with a very difficult employment environment and a high cost living area dealing with a consumer market where we at. We continue to see massive demographic changes that are unfavorable to beer dealing with a significant supplier like Anheuser-Busch who would put so much heat onto sugars like us that we're not exclusive and carried so many different craft beers and non-alcoholic beverages and we did those things because our consumer base was calling for it even amongst all that stress and all those pressures Tracy. I do miss the beer business for sure but I think my mom and dad my dad answer may be similar but I think that our family's business provided a vehicle to allow them to have such a positive impact on so many other people's lives whether it's education and scholarship programs at some of the private schools that they funded or the medical stuff that they've done at Valley Medical Center or O'Connor hospital or the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Those are the business allowed them to do all those things and that still goes on to this day.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah that's that's great that's really great. You know there's a couple of people that would be very upset to know that we're recording and we haven't mentioned their name yet. Right. So let's give let's give Mark McGrath will shout out Mac. All right Max over in Vietnam a mutual friend of ours he was an on premise director out at Paradise beverages in Hawaii when I was about.

Terence Fox:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
And you went to school with him?

Terence Fox:
He worked for Becks as well in Hawaii. Yep. Yeah I did. I went to college with with Mac at University of San Diego talked a little bit but yeah he's in Vietnam.

Tracy Neal:
What's up Mac.

Terence Fox:
He's back.

Tracy Neal:
He's like the beer distribution I know is like a consultant. He's trying to establish a three tier model in Vietnam. He's also the subway King. Well you know me bought a bunch of subway stores and it's been a it's I've heard he's very successful now. But I also heard from him that it was an uphill battle because deli sandwiches are not the norm in Vietnam.

Terence Fox:
You know you brought up Vietnam and Hello Mac. I hope things are going well there. But my dad actually was the original importer of the first beer to come out of Vietnam in the in the early 90s that it was on the south side. It was I got a beer called Saigon export wheelchairs which is still available here in the United States. And my dad along with a fellow beer a former beer distributor bill they'll be. They were the Strokes distributor and they sold their business and I think 1990. But my dad and Bill Doby HBO started a company called Heritage beverage and imported. They received the North American import rights for Saigon beer.

Tracy Neal:
Okay great. Hopefully Mac is enjoying some beers out there. One other person we've got to give a shout out to her. He'll give us a hard time.

Terence Fox:
Who is that?

Tracy Neal:
Dave Chao.

Terence Fox:
Hello Dave.

Tracy Neal:
What's up Dave Chao.

Terence Fox:
Hello Dave. That rock is amazing. You got to ask Dave Chao about his his greeting to me when he originally found out that after we sold our business that I was going to come work for a beverage and be their vice president manager.

Tracy Neal:
I can only imagine I can only imagine.

Terence Fox:
But Dave is a great beer guy just a you know a really good example of someone that you can you go in with nothing in and if you put in the effort this industry can provide a very good standard of living for someone who's willing to put the effort in that stage.

Tracy Neal:
He's one of the hardest working guys I know in the history of your network.

Terence Fox:
He taught me a lot and I hope I taught him some things too. Well thank you for your time today. It's been a pleasure to get to meet you and thank you for having me.

Tracy Neal:
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.

Quickly and accurately automatically transcribe your audio audio files with Sonix, the best speech-to-text transcription service.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your mp3 files to text.

Manual audio transcription is tedious and expensive. Sometimes you don't have super fancy audio recording equipment around; here's how you can record better audio on your phone. Automated transcription is getting more accurate with each passing day. Are you a podcaster looking for automated transcription? Sonix can help you better transcribe your podcast episodes. Sonix has the world's best audio transcription platform with features focused on collaboration. Automated transcription can quickly transcribe your skype calls. All of your remote meetings will be better indexed with a Sonix transcript.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your mp3 files to text.

Sonix is the best online audio transcription software in 2020—it's fast, easy, and affordable.

If you are looking for a great way to convert your audio to text, try Sonix today.

Wait! Before You Go

FREE DOWNLOAD: A deck on Motivating Generation XBOX (your employees who spend all night gaming)