Ep. 008: Robert Fahr, Fahr Beverage

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Robert Fahr:
You know, when you're when you really look at it, making friends is our business. And and it's so true because if we can't get the consumer to be a friend of our product, then we're out of business.

Tracy Neal:
My guest for episode number 8 is Robert Fahr. Mr. Fahr is the president and owner for Fahr Beverage, located in Waterloo, Iowa. I recently traveled to Waterloo, where I sat across from Mr. Fahr in his boardroom after conducting a strategy meeting with his leadership team on execution. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. iSellBeer presents to you, Robert Fahr.

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

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

And eat all the frickin chips?

Kip Point. Don't be jealous that I've been shown online with games all day.

We have a pawn in the back. We have a pool and a pot of good.

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:
Rob, thank you for having me today.

Robert Fahr:
You're welcome. Glad you're here.

Tracy Neal:
Yes, definitely. So we're here at Fahr Distributing Waterloo, Iowa, and we're sitting in the boardroom together. And this is the first time that I've met you, although you've been a customer for iSellBeer now for the last three or four months.

Robert Fahr:
That's correct.

Tracy Neal:
Thank you very much.

Robert Fahr:
You're welcome.

Tracy Neal:
And as I told you, this podcast really centers around your first day on the job. But before I get to that interesting story. Tell me, are you are you a native of Iowa? Did you grow up here?

Robert Fahr:
And I was born, raised and grew up in Iowa. I did escape for four years and went to St. Louis to St. Louis University for my college. But after that, then I came back full time and joined the family business.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And yes, you say the family business. So a few of your managers had told me when I asked them, when did Bob start in the beer business? They said he was born into the beer business.

Robert Fahr:
That's correct. Mom and dad bought the business in '56, but dad actually was running the beer division for a company called Capital Tobacco. And that was in '50 to '54. I was born in '52. So I was literally born into the beer business. And over time, you know, my first my first time or my first day on my job, I probably was five or six years old and we couldn't afford a babysitter. So they put me on the breakage pile and I learned how to clean breakage.

Tracy Neal:
So we're talking late '50s.

Robert Fahr:
Late 50s.

Tracy Neal:
You're under 10 years old and five or six years old. And you came in and learned. How did you break?

Robert Fahr:
That's correct.

Tracy Neal:
And what what what did the breakage role look like?

Robert Fahr:
It was a pile in the back of the warehouse that had a bunch of bottles and cases on it.

Tracy Neal:
We repacking them as we do today.

Robert Fahr:
Well, we repacking them as as it's done today, but it was back when you had bleach, water and rubber gloves. and a rug.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. What? I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that process. So what did you what did you do with. I mean, because we had I guess the first thing come to my mind is we had less SKUs back then.

Robert Fahr:
That's true.

Tracy Neal:
And less packages, packaged container types. Right. And ah, we were even pre aluminum can here.

Robert Fahr:
Yeah. It was still can.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. It was a steel can. So again, walk me through. What is that. What were the gloves and the bleach.

Robert Fahr:
Well it was basically your mom's rubber gloves from the kitchen. Again, she did dishes and they put a cap of bleach in a gallon of water, warm water, and you'd wipe off the bottles because we had trouble in bottles, seven ounce bottles, which were all returnable courts and 16 ounce cans. So what you know, if you had breakage, you had to clean them off and then dry em off and then put them back into a clean case and put it back in the trade so they could sell it.

Tracy Neal:
So do you do you remember your actual first day at age six? I don't. It's kind of. I was gonna say I memory at age six is probably not that clear.

Robert Fahr:
I just I just remember having to do breakage because the folks couldn't afford a babysitter. And so that was the you know, I was the breakage pile was my babysitter for the time.

Tracy Neal:
And what were your parents names?

Robert Fahr:
Ev Fahr and Helen Fahr?

Tracy Neal:
Ev and Helen Fahr. And did your mom also work in your?

Robert Fahr:
Yeah mom was the bookkeeper for the company. So what besides raising my brother and myself, she did all the payrolls and the payables and receivables and all that stuff. My dad was out selling, so we had when I was five, we had six employees.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, wow.

Robert Fahr:
So work. And naturally, I wasn't getting paid. So that was that that was cheap labor. So my you know, my real first day was in 1974 after I graduated from college.

Tracy Neal:
Now was the with the trip to St. Louis associated with. I mean, did you pick that college because of the Anheuser-Busch says?

Robert Fahr:
Well, I had a lot of recruiting done to me by our region and division people who had gone to St. Lucia. And I always like St. Louis because going down there as a kid, there was with dad, we'd go to the ballgames and all that. So it was far enough away and was a big enough city that I could of. Learn how to live.

Tracy Neal:
Be independent?

Robert Fahr:
Pretty much, pretty much. And it was a great business school at the time. So, you know, being associated with Barry didn't hurt any.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
And then, you know, the folks would be coming down periodically for meetings and that. So you always had, you know, the the replenishment factor of mom making sure that she had spending money and things of that nature.

Tracy Neal:
Maybe some home cooked food.

Robert Fahr:
Yeah, a little bit. Well, no, most of those folks had favorite restaurants in St. Louis, too. So what Musial and Biggie's was a big place. We got to go all the time so.

Tracy Neal:
Biggie's?

Robert Fahr:
Yeah. Stan Musial and Biggie's.

Tracy Neal:
Stan Musial and Biggie's. St. Louis restaurants, huh?

Robert Fahr:
Yeah. And that's been gone for years. But that was always wanted dad's favorite places to go.

Tracy Neal:
Well, I would imagine as a young kid growing up in Anheuser-Busch distributorship, at some point, as a very young child, you had visibility. Tell me about the first time you saw the Clydesdales.

Robert Fahr:
That was in 1958.

Tracy Neal:
You're six years old.

Robert Fahr:
I was six years old.

Tracy Neal:
Imagine those big horses were quite impressive and.

Robert Fahr:
Yeah, and a funny story. Dad had them in town and they were going to all the bars in downtown Waterloo and making the bar call and that and then they root. Stable at a former Studebaker car dealership in downtown. And, you know, you had every kid in the world who wanted to get on the back of the Clydesdale and get their picture taken. Well, they put me on the back of Big Scott. And Big Scott was one of the famous horses at the time. And I screamed like bloody murder because I was so far up in the air and there was this big horse and everything else.

Tracy Neal:
And I didn't realize each horse had a different name. Yes, that makes sense. Yeah. Big Scott was one of the original Clydesdales?

Robert Fahr:
Yeah. Well at for that time period, but he was just a huge wheel horse. Okay. And it all just massive in you know, you're standing in three foot tall and you look up at that thing, you go, oh my God. So yeah, a lot of good memories the first time I saw the hitch. And you know, the Bradys, Don and Walt Brady, who were the groomsmen and Walt was the lead driver of the hitch, are originally from Greeley, Iowa, which is just northeast here.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
So this is sort of their home market. And over periods of time, the hits would come through and stop. And Mrs. Brady is one who did the paper flowers that go in the main.

Tracy Neal:
Oh yeah. Uh-Huh.

Robert Fahr:
And she would do that. Well, Don and Walt, if they're headed back north or south, would stop. And then periodically they'd stop here at Waterloo. So we'd have the Clydesdales in the parking lot for maybe an hour or whatever just stopped and say, oh, well, that's great. So lot of good memories that way.

Tracy Neal:
That's good. So and you said your actual first day on the job after college, I think. Did you say it? Was it 1971?

Robert Fahr:
1974.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, 1974?

Robert Fahr:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Because you'd come back from St. Louis University.

Robert Fahr:
That's correct.

Tracy Neal:
Was your first day on the job here as a business professional rather than then state child labor?

Robert Fahr:
Yeah, we discussed and previous to that, in all from six until, you know, 22, I ran vacation routes and special events and whatever had to be done in the summer. I you know, I worked those jobs like any any kid in the beer business.

Tracy Neal:
You picked up the empty kegs at the county fair?

Robert Fahr:
Well, that I would continue doing my breakage. But I got to be more of a route helper.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
So, you know, I learned the ins and outs of how to properly rotate being a retail establishment and deal with customers and. Everything that we try to teach people today. I learned firsthand from these guys have been doing it for 20, 30 years.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, twisting every bottle and a six pack to make sure...

Robert Fahr:
Make sure the labels out

Tracy Neal:
and labels out. Yeah. Labels out.

Robert Fahr:
Yeah. So we had that. So when I came back in '74, I graduated on a Saturday and Monday morning I was on a keg route for three weeks because our keg driver took his vacation and I was the support team at the time. So I ran the keg route for three weeks and then after that we had four or five other routes. So I ran all the vacation routes all summer. So I'm sitting there going, okay. You've got this college degree and you're on a route. And I keep telling myself that's why you get college degree. So you know how to do this stuff.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. And so how many routes were there?

Robert Fahr:
We had at that time, we had five package and two draft.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And how many years did you work on your father?

Robert Fahr:
As a kid, you know, up to when I came back, probably, you know, 16. I I came back in '74. Dad died in March of '79. So I. So I had five years of working with him under the management of learning how to run a beer distributorship from a management perspective.

Tracy Neal:
Any any good stories about your dad and how he ran the business? I'm sure there's some distributor owners out there that are still around. They had the pleasure of working with him or knew him.

Robert Fahr:
Dad, you always knew her dad stood. And, you know, he'd he wasn't afraid to say what was on his mind.

Tracy Neal:
Ev right?

Robert Fahr:
Ev, yeah. And you know, he he made some tremendous friends across the country. He was fortunate to be on the second Anheuser-Busch advisory panel. OK. And so that was the one that brought us the first equity agreement that has been revised many times since then. But he got to meet some and work with some very talented people there. And then over the years, I've grown up with their kids and worked with them. Different things with the brewery and panels. When I was on the panels, some of them were on the panel. So it's a multi-generational.

Tracy Neal:
Do you remember a particular package or brand launch or initiative under your dad's leadership that whether you were post-college or pre-college, that you remember that if he were here today telling us one of his favorite stories, what what would that be?

Robert Fahr:
That's when. Anheuser-Busch Natural Light was introduced.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. What year are we in for Natural Light?

Robert Fahr:
We're in 1977, '78, ran through there because Des Moines was a test market for Natural.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And to give relativity to some of our listeners who aren't familiar with Iowa, we're in Waterloo. How far of a drive is Des Moines?

Robert Fahr:
We're one hundred and ten miles northeast of Des Moines. OK, so we're in the northeast part of the state where Des Moines is. Warren, central Iowa.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And by the way, it's freezing today outside.

Robert Fahr:
This is nice today.

Tracy Neal:
That's what I was told.

Robert Fahr:
You should be here in January when it's 25 below.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, it's 18 degrees outside. I'm from California. I'm freezing my buns off. And everyone tells me that this is like summer.

Robert Fahr:
Yeah. You know, this is a nice day compared to what we could be experiencing. So.

Tracy Neal:
I'm glad I came on a warm day.

Robert Fahr:
Yeah. And there's no snow. So that's that's a plus also. Yeah. You know, you got a little ice fog but that's going to go away.

Tracy Neal:
Ice fog. That's also new to me, cowboy. So so go back to the Natural Light launch. You said Des Moines was a test markets. You have made that special about that particular launch.

Robert Fahr:
Oh, everybody from here was going to Des Moines to get that. That new Bud Light is well. Even though it was Natural Light, everybody was gone. A Bud Light because it was made by Budweiser.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
So we had customers who were bootlegging for better terminology, bringing...

Tracy Neal:
Crossing the county line.

Robert Fahr:
Bringing beer into the end of the territory and that and they had their Anheuser-Busch had a T-shirt. Some of the trash and trinket that they had says, I do it right. And then on the back side, naturally added, dad just thought that was one of the greatest promotional gimmicks that you could do. I think he went out, bought twenty five hundred T-shirts. He had you know, we got going on. We be buying everybody a natural. Let him try it. And everybody got a T-shirt. So you launched it in the on premise? We relaunched on premise. And then off premise followed. So during the 50s and 60s and early 70s, the majority of our business was done on premise. On premise.

Tracy Neal:
OK. What? So was it draft then? Definitely was, draft.

Robert Fahr:
We had draft, but we also had package at the time. We had I believe we brought in a returnable bottles of 12 packs, six packs and draft beer at the time.

Tracy Neal:
Ok, so you remember what the what the market, what they did, what they do for your market share or did it? Yeah, it was the cannibalisation high against Bud Light or was it real?

Robert Fahr:
It really wasn't that that much against Budweiser at the time, because the only light beer we had competing against was Miller Light.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, so there was no Coors Light in there?

Robert Fahr:
Well, there is no cause in the state Iowa at the time.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
So that was another one that was being brought across the border into people going out to Colorado, fill up their truck with beer and bring it back.

Tracy Neal:
And that darn Smokey and the Bandit.

Robert Fahr:
Yeah, pretty much pretty much.

Tracy Neal:
Pretty much trained people how to do that.

Robert Fahr:
Well, that was before Smokey and the Bandit. Yeah. So. But you know, the natural you know, we bought a lot of beer across the bar. He had no built brand. And then after that. Let's see. Bush came into the state. Well, I think I actually was. MC Light, Michelob Light was the next one in then Busch, and then dad died in '79 and then an '81, '82. We brought in Budweiser Light.

Tracy Neal:
Budweiser Light?

Robert Fahr:
It was it was Budweiser Light, it wasn't Bud Light, it was Budweiser Light.

Tracy Neal:
That was the original name of the brand.

Robert Fahr:
That was the original name.

Tracy Neal:
Just Budweiser Light. I did not know that. I had no idea it was Budweiser Light, but I guess that would make sense.

Robert Fahr:
You know, they mean all their ad was the single Clydesdale running across the beach and said, bring out your best and all that. It was Budweiser Light and then the consumer basically got the name changed. Bud Light because that's what they were calling it, huh?

Tracy Neal:
Interesting. So at this point in time. Early '80s, you're running the show here at Fahr Beveridge, right? Build a warehouse, build anywhere else, expanding probably quite considerably in the '70s and '80s.

Robert Fahr:
Yep. And then our largest employer, John Deere's, went on out on one hundred and ten day strike.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So yeah, that's one thing I learned last night at my hotel is that this is the headquarters for John.

Robert Fahr:
This. This is the largest manufacturing plant for John Deere.

Tracy Neal:
So the largest manufacturing plant for John Deere tractors. Yeah. Yeah. So it definitely impacts the community. And there was a big strike in the '80s?

Robert Fahr:
Well, he had a strike in the 80s. Then he had the farm economy that went bust and.

Tracy Neal:
Hence farm aid.

Robert Fahr:
Right. Pretty much. And at that was '83. '84. Right about there because we had just moved into here in '82.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
And then the. They went out on strike. We moved in here on June 15th, 82 because that would have been dad's 40th anniversary of the beer business.

Tracy Neal:
Wow. So then he would go back 40 years from '82. I mean, he started in 42.

Robert Fahr:
Well he actually started it repeal because my grandfather was a Miller wholesaler in Cherokee, Iowa, which is out in western Iowa.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
And he was a much better farmer than he was a beer distributor. So he sold that went back to farming. Dad went to work for capital to back grow up in Spencer, Iowa, which is in the northwest corner around the Iowa Great Lakes, and started out on truck up there selling Pepsi Cola and Potosi Beer.

Tracy Neal:
Potosi Beer, huh?

Robert Fahr:
Potosi Beer. And then when they came to Waterloo, they had country club, which was out of St. Joe, Missouri. And then they bought the Budweiser franchise from a wholesaler who was in the food business at the time. Produce business. And Sir like Benny Keith and Texas. Yeah, it not not even close to the same size as Benny Keith.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
And that's how the brands got into capital on them. Mom and dad bought the beer division from capital in 58.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And when you say your great grandfather started in repeal, we're talking 1933?

Robert Fahr:
1933.

Tracy Neal:
1933, the 21st amendments passed.

Robert Fahr:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Alcohol is now legal again. And overnight there's a distributor network and they were selling the Miller brands?

Robert Fahr:
They were selling Miller.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
And like I said, he he was a more successful as a farmer than he was a beer distributor.

Tracy Neal:
Well, to be fair, it was the first year of beer distribution and he didn't have a lot of money, whereas me manual's well.

Robert Fahr:
There were there was a certain to have the surveys that we're taking.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Robert Fahr:
You know, I had just worked out so well, you know, I guess for three generations we've been in the beer business.

Tracy Neal:
That's great. You literally were born into the beer business.

Robert Fahr:
Pretty much. Yeah. Yeah. And the history of everything that goes with it. So, you know, in the 80s, we built the building. Deere's went on strike. The farm economy went south of Dear's. When they got back to work full time, basically shed 10000 jobs.

Tracy Neal:
Out of this town?

Robert Fahr:
Out of this town.

Tracy Neal:
Because Waterloo today I looked it up is about 30,000?

Robert Fahr:
No, Waterloo's about 70. Cedar Falls is about 35. And that's the community. Well, actually, it's a mile down the road from us. Okay. And that's where the university Northern Iowa's located. So basically the metro area is about 100 hundred and five thousand,.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
We used to at its peak was at one hundred and twenty five thousand and that's before the farm economy. Went south on us.

Tracy Neal:
So what have you seen change in the beer industry? I mean, obviously a lot going back to the 50s when you started at age six. But let's talk more recently. Right. Yeah, maybe since the millennium, right. Since the last 15, 18 years. What's changed in the beer industry for the better? I know if we if we talk about what's changed that we have complaints about or uncomfortable with, we could be here all day. But what do you have been really good for the beer industry?

Robert Fahr:
I think the technology has been critical, you know, for our growth and the the ability for us to have information at our fingertips and to be able to make better decisions and help our customers and our clients make better decisions. My every one of my salesmen has pretty much every salesman in the country has iPads, my drivers have iPads my wear, this guy's iPads, you know, everybody's got the technology that you need to run these things. But we're also able to make better decisions. And, you know, we we can track of a case of beer from the time it hits our warehouse till the time it gets to the consumer. And we know we know age. We know what pull per point. We know what the the velocity of something. And, you know, back in the old days, you'd sit there and stick your finger up in the air and say, OK, this this is what the trend is going to be in the rulebook. Well, rule book, which was half the time, wasn't filled out properly or fudged a little bit. And you know what? Like your product. You know, back when I started full time, taking a picture of display was a Polaroid camera. Yeah. And then he'd come in and then he'd sit there. And you try to count how many cases run on the display and say, OK, I got 84 percent of the beer on the floor. Well, you didn't know if you had it because you didn't take everybody's picture. Yeah. You know, you just take your own stuff.

Tracy Neal:
So the old Polaroid.

Robert Fahr:
The old Polaroid or the Instamatic. We did a Instamatics.

Tracy Neal:
You know, the things I say about the Polaroids is it was a pretty good model except for the cost of film for the distributor owner and especially in the 80s when the Polaroid film or the Boyd photo was still valued. One of the downsides of that is that the personal use. There's a little bit of personal use.

Robert Fahr:
There's a lot of personal use going on.

Tracy Neal:
On the weekends. Being a sales rep meant a free camera. Right.

Robert Fahr:
Well, yeah. Because, you know, your salesman. We didn't have phones at that time, but we did give them cameras. We did give them. I think we probably supplied every kid whose dad worked here, supplies for school and pencils and pens and things of that nature. But that that's how things were done back then. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
You know, you just brought up something I wanted to ask about because I know one of the, you know, one of the core values of the Anheuser-Busch network, as well as the MillerCoors Network and as well as into the Wine and Spirits Network. Everybody, distributors really try and get involved in their community. And I know that you do that as well. Tell me what what's what's one of the things that you do to get involved, to give back to the community that you're you're doing to support the state of Iowa?

Robert Fahr:
We've been involved in so many things in the history of this company. Dad was chairman of the Heart Association, a fund raiser for years. My mom had a genital heart defect when she was born and basically had a hole the size of her heart, the size of a silver dollar. And so dad got behind that and was a fundraiser. And my brother had multiple sclerosis. So he sponsored a bowling tournament that would have two or three hundred teams in it for all the proceeds went to multiple sclerosis. And then, you know, we're been very active with the university and we've been very active with the schools. We don't put our brand name on anything if they're under legal age, but we give an awful lot of money to schools and that four football fields or whatever. Just like any other wholesaler does. And then, you know, we've been very active in our state national association. I have served twice as president of the Iowa Beer Wholesalers Association. Dad was president once. I've been fortunate enough to be on the board of BWI. So, you know, we we tried to give back to the association then. My wife's my basic belief on charity is level one needs food, clothing, shelter. Okay. And so we we really tried to help the food banks in the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul. And, you know, right here where people we've been very fortunate to be in this position. Our business has been successful. I was brought up to share with community and share back.

Tracy Neal:
That's great. It's a real testament to our industry. Again, both sides, regardless of who the core supplier is, I think this industry does a great job giving back to the community and supporting in.

Robert Fahr:
I don't know a wholesaler of any brand who doesn't participate like that in their community.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, that's great.

Robert Fahr:
No, it's just it's just who we are.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. Now, I don't want to get political, but I do have a question. I'm in Iowa. I'm from California. I do not understand what. Well, that's. I don't understand the Iowa caucus. What is got Iowa?

Robert Fahr:
God only knows what the Iowa caucus. It's.

Tracy Neal:
It's like a yelling match in a in a in a convention center and. Well, trying to pull people over to your side.

Robert Fahr:
Actually, it might not even be a convention center.

Tracy Neal:
A gym?

Robert Fahr:
It might be somebodies living room. And they have precincts all over the state. And then they'll have all this year, we'll probably have 200 candidates running for president in 20 years. So they're already there are starting to come into Iowa to build organizations.

Tracy Neal:
I've been told there's 99 counties in Iowa.

Robert Fahr:
That's correct.

Tracy Neal:
I mean, these are things they don't need to know. But I'm in Iowa, so I'm very curious. Right. I'm not that political of a person. I don't get too involved in it. But if I'm in Iowa, I'm kind of excited. I really want to learn. What is this caucus and how does it work? I'm sure our listeners are probably I don't know, maybe they're turning it off right now or maybe they're wondering as like I did, because it's kind of interesting. It's unlike any other any other preliminary voting exercise in the country. And so to continue. You're saying that they get all these candidates and they meet maybe in somebody's living room, maybe in a school gym.

Robert Fahr:
They around here. They've done it in living rooms. They've done it in school gyms. They've done it over the inner dome of the university where they play football.

Tracy Neal:
He starts out with people of differing opinions in the same room with an agreement that over. So after so much time, is there a time limit?

Robert Fahr:
Well, there is a time limit. And then the way they do it is they'll have speakers for every candidate. Then they'll do a straw poll. And then.

Tracy Neal:
The straw poll is raising of the hand?

Robert Fahr:
Raising hands and then they'll count that. Or it might even be a paper poll. And then the largest vote getters go on to the next one and then they will keep narrowing it down until they have a final candidate who's number one. And then that is reported to the point for better terminology where they compile all the precincts and then the Iowa caucus winner is announced. And then they go to New Hampshire that night and forget about Iowa for another four years. But, you know, if.

Tracy Neal:
It's like like a verbal tug of war or March madness.

Robert Fahr:
Pretty much pretty much.

Tracy Neal:
That's one thing. Animal power, March madness.

Robert Fahr:
It's really interesting to watch. After a while, you get so sick and tired of the TV commercials that you can't wait for the sweetcorn. Commercials do start back.

Tracy Neal:
Also, it's all televised. The big ones.

Robert Fahr:
Well, well, the commercials are televised. Yeah, but the actual voting is not. It's all covered by the press. But, you know, we'll start having TV commercials for some of these candidates early next year.

Tracy Neal:
Really.

Robert Fahr:
Just trying to build their base. And you know, they've had winners. George H.W. Bush won this. Barack Obama won it. Excuse me. On the Democratic side. Yeah. So they have a caucus for both parties. And then the winners from there say they got the momentum to go down the road. So it's really interesting to watch. It's just you don't want to, you know, two years of the constant communication and ads and things of that nature. You know, there's times you can. There's a little coffee shop I remember back when Obama was runner, no. We'd walk in there and Joe Biden was sitting there, have breakfast. So you get do you get to see.

Tracy Neal:
It's a unique part of the political process? Yeah, it makes Iowa really special. And that.

Robert Fahr:
If you really look at its root, really, the retail politics. Yeah. Because you're you're at a store level and ground level and people are. These candidates are going to, like I said, coffee shops or living room...

Tracy Neal:
It's interestings.

Robert Fahr:
And talking to people. So.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
It's a really great experience.

Tracy Neal:
Thank you for the explanation and I getting back to beer. Do you have any children?

Robert Fahr:
I have one son.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. He involved in the business.

Robert Fahr:
He's our draft manager.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
And doesn't really. He prefers not to get involved in the management side of the business. He is very good from the technical and the draft side.

Tracy Neal:
Good.

Robert Fahr:
So, you know, we we always made the decision that we weren't going to force kids into the business. Okay. So, you know.

Tracy Neal:
And it's certainly changed.

Robert Fahr:
Oh, it's changed dramatically.

Tracy Neal:
It's not. Yeah, it's not it's not. Your father's business is not his father's business.

Robert Fahr:
No, it's not even my business. It changes so much.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. So what would you say to. Again, we have a lot of listeners that are sales reps and we like to say they're driving around all day selling beer. Maybe you say this to your own sales reps. But let's say if I were a candidate to be a sales rep for you today and I was 25, 27 years old, what kind of things would you say are good reasons to get in this industry?

Robert Fahr:
Well, it's a great industry for four people, you know. Anheuser-Busch for years had a philosophy which we still carry on, is making friends, is our business. And anything that we can do to make it, friend, we're going to do because it long term, it enhances or rub our business. But, you know, when I was a kid, Budweiser had an ad called Where There's Life, there's Bud. Okay. Okay. Dad's philosophy. And he he taught me this very, very. Strongly, wherever people are, we want to be with them.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Robert Fahr:
So if they're in their backyard, we want them drinking Budweiser. If they're at the ballgame, we want them drinking Budweiser. If they're efficient, we want them drinking Budweiser. So that's how well we build our businesses. We want to be where people are. And you have to be a people person.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Robert Fahr:
To be able to do it. The beer industry is it is a great industry for growth because most of us are independent, small, small businesses. We're fortunate right now. We've got 74 full and part time employees around here. So we've got some pretty good career paths.

Tracy Neal:
Good.

Robert Fahr:
If somebody really wants to get involved, follow the procedures, learn the business we've got right now to certified Cicerone is on staff. Great. We've got three more who are in training. We've got actually. Two. One. One. Pass. Taste. One passed the technical. So I've really got the third one. If I put them together. But again, it it's getting the knowledge. So we believe in investing our people, investing in training and getting the growth through that. So, you know, when you're when you really look at it, making friends is our business slogan. And and it's so true, because if we can't get the consumer to be a friend of our product, then we're out of business. Yeah. So and, you know, a lot of things have changed from being a two brand house like we were in the 50s with Budweiser and gets to, I don't know, three hundred and fifty different labels and fifteen hundred packages. And we're in two energy drinks. We're into non alcohols, we're into cheese, we're into beer. We're into wine. Very small and wine. But we're there. Yeah. And New Age beverages and that. So if somebody really wants to get into an industry that's fun and exciting and changes every day, it's the beer industry.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, it's great. Now, along your career, are there is there anyone out there you want to give a shout out or a thank you to or are there any particular mentors, whether they were here in house or maybe they were one of your suppliers, a one that. Again, this is kind of a broadcast nationally and we could. Dallas. Is there anyone that you want to take time to say, hey, thank you for growing me along the way?

Robert Fahr:
You know, I was fortunate because of our proximity to St. Louis. Also, the fact that I was able to go to school there. But our old sales region was region three. And some of the great guys from Anheuser-Busch came through region three. And I was fortunate enough that Orian Burckhardt took me under his wing when dad died. You know, he Orian, Michael armonica were my mentors. They had me fly down to Saint Louis and say, okay, Bobby, this is what you're going to do and this is why you're gonna do it. And they guided me down the path to become a wholesaler that I should be. So, you know, those two guys, Mike Rorty was a close friend of my dad's. And again, Mike was a mentor to me. So I was very fortunate to be mentored by some of the great old Anheuser-Busch executives. And they are just great people. And I owe a lot of my professional career to those guys. And I'm very, very honored to say that.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. Yeah, that's that's another thing that this industry is really good at, is mentorship and training and teaching. Teaching the younger folks the ropes on how to be successful in this. Very much so. Awesome. Well, as we kind of wrap up the the formal side of this. Can I ask you for a 30 second shameless plug on iSellBeer? You've been using the iSellBeer software platform for about three or four months now. I know you're probably not using it every single day, but I know your team is. And we just had a good meeting here. We did some training and talked about some goals that were going to set over the next few months. How has iSellBeer changed the way your guys go to market and helped you sell more beer?

Robert Fahr:
You know, I actually it gives us I alluded to it earlier. It gives us. More data to be able to make better decisions.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And we're able to see what's going on immediately. We can grade the displays if we if we go that path, but it gives us the information on cases on the floor. How could we improve there? It's a great training tool. It's also a great tool for our suppliers when they come out in there. We've got an incentive going on or a program going on. We've got the documentation there that we can show them and share with them. Terry is my general manager.

Tracy Neal:
Terry Timmerman?

Robert Fahr:
Terry Timmerman. Are you in our chief operating officer? Is really the force behind iSellBeer and is one of the tools that I see a great future force to use, especially now that we're getting more training and the guys have got their feet wet. Now they want to know how they can. You get better?

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. Awesome. So we enjoy having you as one of our customers or as we like to say, as an execution partner. Thank you for making us your partner in execution.

Robert Fahr:
You're welcome.

Tracy Neal:
I think I might see a little bit retail now out in the market. Go out to a couple stores with a couple of guys. I look forward to doing that.

Robert Fahr:
Great.

Tracy Neal:
Thank you for having me here in Waterloo. Again, thanks for being a customer and thank you for sharing your story on the beer industry. It's such a great history, like you said, going back to repeal. And through all those decades, I'm sure if we had another four or five hours, you could tell me a couple hundred more stories.

Robert Fahr:
We would have a lot of time. Had a lot of fun, that's for sure.

Tracy Neal:
All right. Awesome. Well, thank you so much Rob.

Robert Fahr:
You're welcome. Thank you.

Tracy Neal:
Take care. Yep. 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 a distributor 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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