Ep. 015: Peter Heimark, Triangle Distributing Company

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Peter Heimark:
We have gained share every single month for a AB starting in November at an accelerating rate. So we're getting it done. But I can also say I give a plug for you that you're a part of. You used to be our strategics tool, too, as much as anything, not just to sell more beer, but to keep the suppliers happy. We had the highest ad feature ad feature display coverage of any Constellation, AB wholesaler in the L.A. area because we had such a good idea to take a pulse on what we were executing in the field using your platform.

Tracy Neal:
My guest for episode 15 is Peter Heimark. Peter is the president of Heimark Distributing and Triangle Distributing, both of which are AB Distributors in Southern California. Peter is a third generation distributor and has previous supplier experience working for Anheuser-Busch internationally. Peter and I are sitting in his boardroom at 7:30 in the morning just before he begins a crew drive during one of the key selling weeks of the summer. Peter's story and the challenges his family business have been dealt are like no other. And I hope you'll agree with me when I tell you that he cares about people, relationships and the employees he calls family more than he does the mighty dollar. However, a family business isn't a family without the business first, and he's had his share of tough decisions and hurdles. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. iSellBeer presents to you, Peter Heimark.

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

Yeah. Tell you what. You can take a good look at a picture is asked by sticking your head up there. But when you rather take his word for it.

Tell him I need all the freakin chips kip.

Napoleon don't be jealous that I've been shown online games all day.

We have a pawn in the back pool and upon parnaby. 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, Tracy Neal.

Tracy Neal:
All right. Hello, Peter. Thanks for being here today on the iSellBeer podcast.

Peter Heimark:
Great. Thanks, Tracy.

Tracy Neal:
And you know, this is the first time we've actually met face to face. And we've talked on the phone a couple times. In fact, the last time I talked to you, you were I remember this visit vividly. We talked on the phone and I think you were on a layover in like he was in New York or Chicago. You were headed to Europe?

Peter Heimark:
I was. I was on my way to Paris to meet my wife. I'd been in New York for a meeting with NBWA and I was leaving New York to go join my wife in Paris and got there just in time for the second weekend of the yellow vest. Right. It was great.

Tracy Neal:
And I think that over the holidays.

Peter Heimark:
It was right before the holidays.

Tracy Neal:
Before the holidays.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, good. So how long have you been in the beer business?

Peter Heimark:
Well, it's a full time since 1997, but this is a family business. I'm the third generation. So I actually started back in the mid 80s doing, you know, aluminum can recycling back when we used to you can recycling.

Tracy Neal:
And then I looked at your by the way you have extremely boring LinkedIn profile.

Peter Heimark:
I know.

Tracy Neal:
It says triangle. 22 years.

Peter Heimark:
Yes. Yeah. I I have I'm not very good at dealing at LinkedIn profile. I haven't really needed it for too much, although people do reach out to me through LinkedIn. So let's go first in everything else. But. But yeah. So. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
In 1997 was full time being but in the 80s. So. So let me also state that there's there's two businesses here. Right. So I mean we're right now we're at Triangle distributing in Santa Fe Springs.

Peter Heimark:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
Which is a suburb of Los Angeles.

Peter Heimark:
The gateway cities in L.A., all the low income warehouse, factory type, you know, cities on the edge of the city of L.A..

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So we're a little south of Los Angeles.

Peter Heimark:
Southeast of L.A.

Tracy Neal:
Right. And Triangle distributing here. The anchor supplier is Anheuser-Busch?

Peter Heimark:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
And what other major suppliers do you have here?

Peter Heimark:
Well, now we have our other big beer suppliers, our Firestone Walker, New Belgium Brewing Company and about 30 other mostly California craft breweries.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
And then on the non beer side, just partnered with BANG Energy last year on Jarritos Mexican Soda Pops is big deal around here.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
And then a bunch other waters and stuff like that. And then just jumped it, dipping our toe into the spirits side with Sazerac.

Tracy Neal:
Sazerac. Okay.

Peter Heimark:
Yes. So.

Tracy Neal:
Good. And then there's another family owned distributorship.

Peter Heimark:
Right. So Heimark distributing is in the Coachella Valley, which so people who know. Okay. So people know Coachella and the Coachella Festival. Exactly. So that is actually where my family got its start in the beer business back in the late 30s when my grandfather moved out to the Coachella Valley from Minnesota when he was a young man.

Tracy Neal:
What was his name, by the way?

Peter Heimark:
Rudy. Rudy Heimark.

Tracy Neal:
Rudy Heimark.

Peter Heimark:
Yes. So he followed his father out to become a citrus rancher and citrus farmers, basically. And and he didn't really like me, the citrus farmer, but he had a truck and he was happy to haul the produce in to L.A.. And one day was taken and he wasn't. But he wasn't smart enough to get a return haul back to the desert or just maybe there wasn't anything going back to the desert and I saw a guy broken down by the side of road one day somewhere about, you know, Palm Springs area near where the dinosaurs are now.

Tracy Neal:
The dinosaurs in Palm Springs.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. And.

Tracy Neal:
So Palm Springs is kind of between L.A. and Coachella Valley?

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. I mean, it's closer to the Coachella, but it's in the it's the first big city in the valley. And. And so my grandfather stopped to help the guy and he said, I got a load of the east side beer here. So he side beer.

Tracy Neal:
East side, okay.

Peter Heimark:
It's going to go bad. And then that 102 degree heat. And so my grandfather. So let's load it off your truck. Onto my truck. We'll make the deliveries together and you can split your commissions with me. So they did that. And a week later, the brewery called them and said, hey, how'd you like become a beer distributors? That's literally how we got into the beer.

Tracy Neal:
So through an act of kindness or maybe but a business.

Peter Heimark:
Kindness slash opportunism. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
You know, you know, grandpa really well enough to know that it was a business opportunity.

Peter Heimark:
He is a good guy. I mean, he's Norwegian to the core. But I. He also is half Irish. So I'm sure there was a little bit of.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, so he split the conditions and now the guy out.

Peter Heimark:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
Lo and behold, here you are nearly 90 years later.

Peter Heimark:
Exactly.

Tracy Neal:
With two beer distributorships in Southern California.

Peter Heimark:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
And how many employees are here at Triangle?

Peter Heimark:
Here Triangle? About 110.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And out.

Peter Heimark:
At the desert, about 75.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. What are the major brands out?

Peter Heimark:
It's pretty much the exact same portfolio, except that we also carry an anchor steam. And then two local craft breweries out there that haven't made their way out of the Coachella Valley at Laquita, Berhane and Coachella Valley Brewing Company.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, so when did East Side being the first brand that your family distributed? At what point did you become an Anheuser-Busch distributorship? Because I'm sure that was probably a milestone in the.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. So. So Heimark distributing kind of made its fortune selling whatever they could get their hands on to mostly to patent's troops through World War Two because they were doing training out there. OK. And then after World War 2 the desert, kind of dried up. It had a kind of a secondary mini recession or a major recession for them. But just in that local.

Tracy Neal:
I didn't realize that there was a lot of World War Two training.

Peter Heimark:
Oh, yeah. It was hundreds and thousands of troops training out there for North African warfare because that was where we first troops when there's actually a great museum if you're ever out there called the General Patton Museum and the General Museum. But so that's how we got started. But after the after the war, kind of business really dried up. So we my grandfather got out of the beer business for a few years. And then a guy named Jim Fleming, who had been his Rheingold supplier rep, said, hey, let's start a Falstaff distributorship in East L.A.. So they started triangle together in 1957. And the triangle is Rudy, Jim and my dad, Don Heimark. And.

Tracy Neal:
So triangles after the three men.

Peter Heimark:
Yep. And so that was 1957 with Falstaff. And then in 1958, course came to us and course was the fastest, hottest growing brand. And in California at the time.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
And said, how'd you like to be a Coors distributor? Only cost you 3,000 bucks to buy out the guy that we currently have.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
And Anheuser-Busch came along and said, we have nobody. How would you like to have Budweiser for free? And I know that people hate it when I say especially my dad. But thank God they couldn't find three thousand bucks because they would've gone for Coors and we wouldn't be sitting here today because we would have been consolidated like everybody else.

Tracy Neal:
I imagine $3000 was a chunk of change.

Peter Heimark:
It was a lot of money. And they were, you know, with only Falstaff, they they were had to be pretty scrappy back then.

Tracy Neal:
Huh. So was around 1950, 1950. That's when you.

Peter Heimark:
Right 1958. So we started that triangle up as a Falstaff Bud distributor right around 1963. Falstaff went away because they didn't like the fact that we had Busch Bavarian.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
Which push one way for not too long. But at the same time, Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch came to us and said, Hey, what's Heimark Distributing? And we said, Oh, well, that was our old distributorship out in the Coachella Valley. And they said, well, we need somebody in the Coachella Valley so that we restarted Heimark in '63 as about what shipped out there.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, wow.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Great, great history. And so then I know you've talked about how your grandfather started. Was your father in the business as well?

Peter Heimark:
So my father had just come back. He'd served in the Air Force up until right about that point. In 1957, he came back and said he wanted to go to law school. And my grandfather said, well, once you come work for me and Jim for a year, make some money. And if you want about the law school, great. And if you don't, you can stay with us and be our partner. And he's never looked back.

Tracy Neal:
So law school didn't happen.

Peter Heimark:
Law school never happened.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
And is your father still around?

Peter Heimark:
He's still around. Yeah, he's still active in the business. He comes in every other week. He's semi-retired. So you moved up to the sanding his valley where he could play around with a little growing some grapes and make a little wine. So they say it takes a lot of beer to make a good wine. I'll tell you, it takes a lot of beer to make any kind of wine. Yeah. And so he's having fun, but he comes in about every other week and checks in on it.

Tracy Neal:
How old is he?

Peter Heimark:
He is 87 now.

Tracy Neal:
Eighty seven. I mean you have to get up there and get him on the podcast episode. Had a little more detail around some of these stories.

Peter Heimark:
You may. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Good. So then you also mentioned that in the 80s you were involved in recycling. I got the feeling that there was a little bit of a family recycling business?

Peter Heimark:
No, it was just something we did through this kind of thing with the district. So we used to have weekend recycling operation in our parking lot here at this facility. And then at the previous warehouse that we were at before we moved into this facility, we still owned it.

Tracy Neal:
So we the consumers would bring the recycling sack?

Peter Heimark:
People would bring their cans full of their bags, full of empty cans, and we'd weigh them and pay them. And then it got more and more complicated because California has some wonderful recycling laws, as you know. Perfect. I've been up in Sacramento. And so finally, after a while, we just were we were doing it as a community service and we were losing too much money. So we finally shut it down. But it was a great first job for me because it was every Saturday for like 10 hours on a Saturday. It was smelly. It was dirty. I. You know, people would bring us all kinds of stuff. You know, a lot of the vast majority people were on us and we just bring us back the cans. But some people would bring would throw sand in the cans. Some people would bring their trash. Yeah, we separate out the trash.

Tracy Neal:
They put sand in the cans. I guess that's what we do in Southern California. Sand in the can.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. There's something about people where there was some. Nasty stuff, and then there's some people who are totally honest, but they just didn't realize that we didn't have that we weren't processing aluminum, we processing cans, beverage containers because of that beverage container recycling.

Tracy Neal:
So these were non aluminum?

Peter Heimark:
Well, we'll get a little of that. But we had guys from there was a local Toyota plant that would bring us these little aluminum capsules in a little light cartridges, cartridges and that we had like this this hopper that would crush the cans and those things would get in there and totally scrap it. Plus, we were paying on the container redemption value of the can when there's no container of revenge and redemption value on a little aluminum capsule. So we had to finally tell us, poor little Japanese guy. Please, sir, don't bring this anywhere because A, they screw up our equipment. B, we don't get properly paid for them.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, I can remember as a kid, my neighbor, it was probably around 1977, 1978 and my neighbor's dad used to collect cans and we would go out into the construction sites and I could remember my friend teaching me cause I was probably six or seven years old, teaching my older friend who was my neighbor, teaching me the difference between picking up a tin can and an aluminum can and that we only wanted the aluminum ones. Right. And here's my neighbor's dad would get these bags and bags and bags, aluminum cans. We'd load them in the station wagon. And again, I was probably 6 or 7. I remember going to recycling plant and I had no idea what was going on. And we were asked to get out of the station wagon and I didn't know why. And then I kind of realized and they explain to me how they weighed the car and then they took all the cans out and then they weighed the car again. And that's how they got the weight of the cans. I was fascinated with this process.

Peter Heimark:
It would have been much more efficient than the way we did it.

Tracy Neal:
Because it was fascinating. And I and again, I kind of learned it through experience, but I didn't know what was going on. And then I'll never forget within the next year or two, my family went camping in Yosemite and Yosemite because it was a national park. Their cans were 5 cents each. And this is when, you know, California, I think it was, you know, I don't know, was 10 cents a pound or something like that, but it wasn't a lot. But if you went to Yosemite, they had specially marked cans that were 5 cents each. And they're, you know, my my brothers and I would run around and look for cans and turn them in. You know, you get a buck or a buck 50, you know, to go buy some candy or something like that. So that's thanks for bringing up the recycling story.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. Now, that's actually actually started. Some of the guys I worked with who started saving our own cans and I would start the shift, by way in our own cans and we would write out a check. And that became kind of our group. I won't call it drinking money because we're all six, 60 the time, but are kind of like group money to play with. When our shift was over. But. But then, you know,.

Tracy Neal:
I have a feeling you did not pay for your beer back in those days.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. Oh, I see. Only 16 years old as. Yeah, absolutely. I didn't have a beer.

Tracy Neal:
I've heard I've heard some good stories from a friend, Chuck Zealousness.

Peter Heimark:
Oh yes.

Tracy Neal:
About, you know, Chuck?

Peter Heimark:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
About the about the kegs that were nine-tenths empty that came back from the county fair, 200 of them.

Peter Heimark:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
And if you get one tenth of a keg, four times two hundred. That's a lot of beer.

Peter Heimark:
Yes, exactly.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, good. So you did that. I'm guessing the high school years.

Peter Heimark:
The high school years. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Right. Did you ever you ever in repack. I've talked to a lot of guys.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. So once then Summers would come along and I'd be put in the warehouse. So I repack. That was probably my first kind of more official job.

Tracy Neal:
Did you swat any fruit flies like Steve Uharriet?

Peter Heimark:
We didn't have a fruit fly problem that I remember, although we got plenty of fruit flies. You know what? We get the fruit flies. So we used to be as absurd. Let folks know we'd be a Constellation wholesaler. And even back in the old days, we'd get these. You know, the railcars full of Modelo cans coming up from Mexico and they would rub together on the way up and the cans would braid each other. And every AB wholesaler knows we have this problem. Lots of folks have this problem with 25 ounce cans for maybe now they as the cans rubbery, they get these microscopic little holes in them. And so the beer starts leaking out. Now, what happened with the Modelo cans and you couldn't find it. It would be you know, you'd have your entire warehouse full of this beer and you could smell it and you could end it. We would finally find it when the fruit flies. Yeah. You look for the fruit flies and you go up. That's where the problem is. You have to spray down the entire pallet for final.

Tracy Neal:
And finding the micro holes.

Peter Heimark:
And then. And that was that was a big part of my job as repack was finding the micro hole cans and getting pulled out and try to get to them before they ruin the entire balance.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Peter Heimark:
That was that was always fun.

Tracy Neal:
So did you. Your dad's running the business. You're doing odd jobs in high school. What about during your college years? Did you work here as well?

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. So it would come back on summer's end, either merchandise or mostly merchandising through college. So that was, you know, get my first two getting out the trade experience. And then right after college, I came back for a brief time and was doing like some shelf reset and sales relief and things like that. But then I got a interview with Anheuser-Busch to become an international internal debate bait, folks, remember the old contemporary marketing trainees at AB have kind of these kids they would send out to bars and pubs to go promote beer. They sent me to Spain basically to do that.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, really?

Peter Heimark:
To bring my wholesaler experience such as it was, you know. Twenty one year old, 22 year old kid.

Tracy Neal:
Veteran.

Peter Heimark:
The merchandise didn't work in the works.

Tracy Neal:
Merchandising veteran facilities.

Peter Heimark:
Sent me off to Spain and I worked. I trained for about a month in Madrid. And then they sent me down to the Canary Islands for the next six months to.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, painful.

Peter Heimark:
Because Budweiser was was you know, there's a lot of British tourist down there. And the Brits were actually liking Budweiser at the time. So I was down there trying to build.

Tracy Neal:
What was the coolest thing that you learned working internationally in the beer business?

Peter Heimark:
Well, I don't know what the coolest thing, but the most important thing. Well, the first thing what's the coolest thing I learned is I wanted to get back here and work for the family business, because this business was so much more buttoned down and organized and had so much more support than that business. Business was fun.

Tracy Neal:
It previously not been sold on the idea that you might work for the family. I mean, did you have do you think maybe that you want to do something else or go into a different career?

Peter Heimark:
Yeah, there's actually a couple of times. The most notable one is this another funny story about my dad didn't tell the girl, but about my grandfather, but about my dad. So I was studying. I was going to college and I actually studied for one year abroad in Germany. And and while I was in Germany, my hobby was writing. I would write a lot of fiction. And my parents came over to visit over the holidays and pick me and buddy up. And we went skiing in Switzerland. And. And we're out to dinner one night. And I broke down. As I say, I don't know if I want to be a beer distributor. I really enjoyed writing. I think I might want to be a writer. My mom broke down in tears. She was just devastated. My friend was telling me I was an idiot and my dad didn't say a word. He's a lot of folks out there. And I've done I'm like he's man of very few words. But at the end of the dinner, the night, he said, meet me downstairs at 8 a.m. in the lobby in regular clothes. And I said, we're not going to see him tomorrow. I said, no, we're not seeing him or we have something else to do. So we met the lobby, took this is Zermatt, Switzerland. So there's no cars. And so it's all electric golf cart type vehicles. We take this golf cart out.

Tracy Neal:
The whole city is electric golf.

Peter Heimark:
Yes, it's way up the mountains. And they didn't let any gas cars in the city, I guess.

Tracy Neal:
Wow. That's sounds interesting.

Peter Heimark:
So we we we go to the heliport and we get in the helicopter. I'd never been in a helicopter in my life and we fly out of.

Tracy Neal:
Tough childhood.

Peter Heimark:
I know, I know exactly who in. If you tell me at the end what you're such an idiot for even thinking you would want to do anything else. I totally accept that.

Peter Heimark:
Okay.

Tracy Neal:
So that's kind of the point story.

Tracy Neal:
I see you go in the electric golf court to the heliport.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. So we take this helicopter and we fly over the shoulder of Mont Blanc into France for the finals of the men's slalom during the the Albertville Olympics that we're going on to France.

Tracy Neal:
The Albertville Olympics in France. What year is this?

Peter Heimark:
This is 1998, I think.

Tracy Neal:
Nineteen ninety eight Albertville Olympics. You're just out of college or.

Peter Heimark:
I was. I was a junior in college.

Tracy Neal:
Junior in college. You broke. The news to Miami for the night.

Peter Heimark:
All right.

Tracy Neal:
I wanna be a writer.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah, exactly. And so we we spend the day at the Olympics. The Norwegian or Norwegian beats Alberto Tomba. Remember Alberto Tomba. So we're celebrating with all these Norwegians. We don't know. And we get on these snowmobiles to go back to the heliport in the French sky, driving the snowmobile looks over a because beats walking. No. And I was like, we we it beats walking. And we get back in the helicopter and we're flying back to Switzerland just as the sun is setting and the sun hits, you know, the side of Mont Blanc and just sets it on for Golden Fire. And my dad and I've got those headphones on and I nudged him and he looked at me and I said, you know, I think I'm going to be a beer distributor after all. He said, I thought you'd say that.

Tracy Neal:
Wow.

Peter Heimark:
So, yeah, that was that that was when I thought about. But he said the reason I went to work for AB in Europe was my dad said, why was an international relations major in college?

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
And my dad said, you got to do something with international relations before you come back to the business.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
He knew Steve Burrows, who at the time was vice president, international for AB. And Steve said, this is great. We're going to get this kid over there and see if we can't make some.

Tracy Neal:
Good so we kind of pushed you out of the nest again.

Peter Heimark:
So I guess I got the year, a year of being a supplier. And the most important thing I learned. You know, you asked me what the lessons learned. You know, this one day where I walked into the wholesalers warehouse just to put eyes on what they had on the inventory that before. How much to actually have to sell because Budweiser was the smallest SKU in this distributors vast portfolio. They sold everything from cosmetics to canned shrimp.

Tracy Neal:
So it was it was a French distribute.

Peter Heimark:
This is Spanish. Yes.

Tracy Neal:
Spanish distributor that distributed everything.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Or just beverage?

Peter Heimark:
I think J&B Scotch was their number one item that they.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
But Budweiser was just almost like an afterthought. And so I went out to look at it and it was like a three alarm fire. All these people were. No, but you can't walk in the warehouse early. And this. I remember presenting some ideas for, you know, marketing ideas to help, you know, get more placements along the beach in this one part of the Canary Islands and the owner of that company. Well, that's nice. And threw it away in the trash can right in front of me. Oh, Haskell, great story was the go in and opening up like 30 accounts. And one day, just like going from bar to bar to bar for like 18 hours and taken the list of the camp, new accounts of those tourists. And here you go. I got a 30 new accounts. Go get them. And it came back two weeks later to that island to see how I was going. And they hadn't visited any of them. And I decided that. I want to say, you know what, I'm going to go back to Triangle and I'm not going to treat my suppliers that way. It's gonna be an open door policy when they come in. You know, we're gonna treat them like partners and and make sure we can work together. And we've tried to keep that philosophy. Some suppliers are better than others. So with AB we definitely have that philosophy. I would say we set out that philosophy with Constellation. Some others are a little more challenging.

Tracy Neal:
I'd say I'd say you have. It's interesting that you say that because I'm one of your business vendors, right. You're a customer of the iSellBeer execution platform. And I will tell you, there was an instance I think it was last that was last fall in San Diego at a conference where your Michael Yow came up to me. And there was some there's some news going on that particular week. I'll mention later. Right. But it was obviously one of the busiest weeks in your life for Triangle. And I'm not even a supplier. Then Michael texted me and said, I need to talk to you right away. And I thought, oh, I don't I don't know what this is about, but it's probably not good. And you know what? He went out of his way in the midst of what was going on that we can chain me. He said, hey, I want to let you know. You're gonna hear a lot of things going on this week. We love you as a partner. We love you service. It doesn't impact you. Thanks for helping us grow our business. Stay tuned. I'll be in touch in a couple of weeks. He went out of his way to tell me that we are you know, we'd like to act like a supplier. But the end of the day, we sell you software. Right. And we like to say we are partners in execution. But I will just say that what you just said. As the owner. Feel good. You're right. Your people do treat your suppliers like that. And I can say that with confidence, because I'm not even a supplier and I was treated like that. So good job on that awesome piece of culture there for your company.

Peter Heimark:
Well, I appreciate it. Now let Michael know.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. So did you. Do you remember your first day on the job when you were starting your career?

Peter Heimark:
Full time back at Triangle? Yes.

Tracy Neal:
So I that's kind of the marquee question of the podcast. Right. Tell me about your first day on the job selling beer. And I know that you were, you know, involved since you were six or seven or eight. But there had to be a point in time when it stopped being a thing that you did that dad wanted you to do and you kind of took your own step forward and said, this is gonna be my career. And by the you know, you probably said, by the way, dad, I want a big desk in a big company and a lot of business cards.

Peter Heimark:
I don't think I ever get that. Well, first of all, my dad basically said, I'm not gonna have anything to do with you. You report into whoever you report out.

Tracy Neal:
Good, tough love motto.

Peter Heimark:
Yes. The general manager at the time, Bill Shiner, was my mentor. And he was pretty much in charge of my career. So I never, barely, ever even talked to my dad. So I guess the first day on the job was the was the first day on the job. I I I graduated from USC with my MBA. I did not pay Rick Singer to go to college, but I managed to get out. But it's getting my teeth on my own. And like a week later, I was here, been assigned to a sales, were out in the beautiful city of La Mirada. And so I went out with the current sales rep who was getting promoted to another another role. And we went to the very first account ampm, Martin.

Tracy Neal:
You remember your first account?

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. Martin the lay of the land ampm over on the corner of Imperial and Carmencita and introduced myself to him. And he's he said, okay, what are we gonna do? How are we gonna sell more beer? This is my first day. I I'm I'm looking at this, you know.

Tracy Neal:
1997?

Peter Heimark:
1997. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
1997. May. May 1997. And so it was May. And so it's already getting busy here.

Tracy Neal:
So you didn't even get, you didn't get like a a day off or a month off after graduation.

Peter Heimark:
No. No. I didn't get the time. Yes. Yes.

Tracy Neal:
Just straight from school to work.

Peter Heimark:
Straight straight from school to work and so. So and that was my first account. As you can imagine the backer of ampm is pretty tight. And it was jammed with beer. I mean, that was back in the heyday. Bud Light

Tracy Neal:
Your products or whether.

Peter Heimark:
It was at the time, it was mostly I would say we probably had about we probably at about 45 share for AB at the time. We started Constellation back then was probably maybe 10 share and growing at the time, so we had like 65 shares. So most of this back room was jammed with our stuff. And I was like, I don't know how to count this stuff, let alone, you know. But we worked together. He was and he has always been. We were friends.

Tracy Neal:
What was his name again?

Peter Heimark:
Martin Vallejo.

Tracy Neal:
Martin Vallejo. He was the the guy that you had your first work with, with your friends to this day?

Peter Heimark:
We're still friends today.

Tracy Neal:
Nice.

Peter Heimark:
Yes. And he exhales a bit. That was his that was he still a ampm franchisee. That was his first store. And he has like eight now. I think.

Tracy Neal:
That's awesome.

Peter Heimark:
Not all in our territory.

Tracy Neal:
He was an entrepreneur in his first franchise. You remember him?

Peter Heimark:
And that was it. He was I think he had only been there for about a month. So he was pretty new, too.

Tracy Neal:
That's awesome. You guys have stayed in touch. You get together and have a beer once in a while.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah, it's why we get together. They go to Miles every now and then. He'll turn the store's over to his managers and come join us to go do a tour through the bars and stuff like that.

Tracy Neal:
A great success story for him too, that he's grown his.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. But that's actually the best thing about this businesses. Now we're at the very worst. Were middlemen not doing much other than buying the beer from the breweries and selling it to retailers. But you know, this is how they build their businesses as the cash flow that we provide for our business. So we partner together successfully. That's that's the kind of story you can tell. And there's lots of other stories that are not as inspiring. But his is the kind that.

Tracy Neal:
Yes. Billy Deluca talked about that when I on episode number two in New York City. And he kind of talked about, you know, the the whole livelihood of the family that owns the retailer. Right. And he is the food they put on their table, all their income, the money they're saving to send their kids to college or buying a new bike or whatever they're doing is all within the four walls of that store. So, yeah, he talked about how he has just such a great degree of respect and admiration for every entrepreneur out there that is his retailer.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. You think about back then. I think about let's just call half of our business was independent liquor stores and most 75% of those were all owned by immigrants, mostly at that time, Korean. And now it's shifted. It's more Indian or Syrian or other Middle Eastern. But so these folks came here with a little money, open up these stores and worked our tails off my results. They worked their asses. I was sure I arid areas by the seems a lot to to put their kids through college everything. And the vast majority of those kids didn't come back in the stores. They went off and became doctors or accountants or lawyers or whatever. And then they sold their stores for probably decent money, but not like, you know, a lottery. Make it big money. But without that generous. So now we've got this new wave of immigrants and store owners coming in that I can imagine are going to sort of do the same thing, although we have a group of them that are acting more entrepreneurial, like happy liquor. This guy. He's got his from India. He he's now got at least I won't say like 10 stores across L.A. And you just every year he goes back, visits the family, and India finds a 20 something year old cousin who wants to come to America and make a bet on he. And he sees that spark in him and he brings them back, gives them a store and says, this is now your store. And this is that these are the parameters that you run into. And he's been doing great. So hopefully that can be a sustainable generational thing that could go on for.

Tracy Neal:
That's a great that's a great side to the three tier system that we haven't really talked about before. And that is the role that this industry and distributors play in entrepreneurial development. Yeah, you just you just laid it out very nicely on multiple generations on immigrants coming in and making money for their families and their children and passing it on. And that's just awesome.

Peter Heimark:
Now, I tell you, I am more worried about this tier, the middle tier with consolidation. Everything is that there's some great family stories out there. I told you mine, but I really worry about us getting too big and too kind of corporate and losing that same sort of family entrepreneur thing, although I'll say there's some big families out there, that big, huge distributorships that I have a lot of respect for, because, you know, they started small too. And now they. Yeah. And some of the biggest companies in the world and they're still, you know, at their core, a family business, even if they're that much bigger.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. Yeah. Going back to Martin at the ampm for a minute. Did you sell them anything on that first day? Did you get a new placement? Did you get a display or was it just a memorable relationship that was established?

Peter Heimark:
I think it was just a memory. I can't remember anything in particular. I sold him on that day. I think I was too green. I do remember a few months later, you know, 24 ounce cans, believe it or not. At that time, we're just getting started. Say they weren't that big of a thing. And I remember telling them, I think if we price these 25+ cans, it was 99 cents. So you'll be making a 20 something percent margin. I think I said I think they'll really move. Yeah. And he said, do you really believe it? And I said, I think that's gonna be a big deal. And he said, OK, let's try it. So we get put that like a half shelf together or like three face into three phases of my life. And it totally took off. And it did so well that it totally killed his six pack business, which he was more profitable. But here he is. He said, I don't care about margins. I care about dollars. And I've got more dollars now than I. Than I had before. So. OK.

Tracy Neal:
Nice.

Peter Heimark:
But that was so that was that was my great idea. Which so all the independent retailers out there are mad about killing the six pack business.

Tracy Neal:
Nice.

Peter Heimark:
I'm part of the problem.

Tracy Neal:
So I also want to circle back and ask about this fictional writing. I mean, it wasn't just an interest, but you said you're actually doing it right. Is that something you still do today? Is that a hobby or.

Peter Heimark:
I get a little bit of it? But, you know, with with this business, it's like a muscle. You have to exercise it pretty regularly. So I don't do nearly as much as I used to. But my passion, my hobby is travel. So when I'm traveling, I bought the notepad and do a lot of scribbling.

Tracy Neal:
And so when you when you write these fictional stories, other audiences, I mean, you let your kids read them. Does your wife freedom your friends or they just.

Peter Heimark:
At the moment and there's no audiences. One of the stories I wrote, the story I've been working on that year that I was in Germany, which was my junior year end up becoming my college thesis, OK? Even though I was an international relations major, my college said you can write a thesis in anything you want. And so I found a professor in the English department who was willing to read it for me. And so that became my cause. So that was the only one I ever had an audience of. So audience of two basically it was him and one other reader and that was it. But my kids want to read my stuff now. It's kind of there's some of it's kind of in the fantasy fiction sort of realm and they're all superior and all that kind of stuff. They'd like that. They'd like to read it. But I haven't I haven't taken it out, dusted off it to show it to them. But Sunday, Sunday with both my older son as he's got that same kind of creative thing. So.

Tracy Neal:
That's great that you've got a creative outlet and passion like that that is so different from the day in and day out business that you live that exercises, you know, your mind and your creativity and your scape. And that's just really cool.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah, well, it's fun.

Tracy Neal:
Maybe one day, one of these days you'll publish one.

Peter Heimark:
Maybe I will. I can. I can. I can fix it like it somehow the fictionalize all this beer experience and turn it into the next Avengers movies. Yeah, I like them.

Tracy Neal:
So going coming back now to the distributorships. What would you say? You know, we talk a little bit about culture and how you treat suppliers. That's kind of my question is what is it? Aside from that answer, what is it that makes your distributorships special? You talked a little about being a family distributorship, but having that local street connection. You know, what's kind of the hallmark cultural thing that is in the DNA of these two buildings on how you do your best business to make it special.

Peter Heimark:
You know, I think it's a very, very core of it is every beer distributor principle somewhere. They may not admit it, but somewhere deep inside of them has a one, a core belief. They either believe that they do make a difference both for their retailers and their brands or they don't believe it. So they think, hey, we, whatever we can do can make some kind of incremental difference in the trajectory of the brands we represent or in the profitability and the success of the retail customers we have where they say, you know, it really doesn't matter. We should just be as efficient as possibly we should be transactional. We should be as efficient as we can. We should could possibly be. We obviously believe the former. We think that the things we do make a difference. And you start with that. If you really believe that, then you have to build the organization around. Okay. Well, if you believe it, you can make a difference in that. You should make a difference. Then you need to do. You need to structure your organization in a way that allows people to do that. And that's that's a huge challenge. And we don't always get it right, but we try to do things that will allow the most frontline people to make good decisions on behalf of both our supplier partners, but also on behalf of our retailer customers. And sometimes those two things are diametrically opposed. So we have to kind of be the yeah. The magic in the middle to figure out how this retailer's priorities and meet this supplier's programs. And sometimes that's a big challenge, but we do our best to get it done.

Tracy Neal:
That's great. You know, another thing that I'd like to ask you is, you know this the story of your career is quite glamorous, right. You know, you got on a hell of a helicopter and went to see the Olympics as part of your you know, let's just call it your interview. Right. There aren't many people that do that.

Peter Heimark:
Never hought about it that.

Tracy Neal:
Right.

Peter Heimark:
That's a good point.

Tracy Neal:
And if we look at we look at the trajectory of the business, you've done quite well. Right. And there's a lot of sales reps out there thinking, boy, if I was only born in the Heimark family, I could have done something like that. But what I want to highlight is. You're human and you just said we don't always get it right. Right. Right. So to kind of bring a lot of that success down to earth, can you share with us a major mistake or a strategy that just flopped or maybe a failure or something? Something that I know that you aren't perfect over your 25, 35 year career? That's my point. Right. That there's there's some things in there that will humanize this career. Right. Because we've all done them.

Peter Heimark:
Well, my, my first big screw up was as a sales rep that first year on the job as a sales rep. Another great account, Al at L&L Liquor. He was.

Tracy Neal:
Al at L&L?

Peter Heimark:
L&L, yeah.

Tracy Neal:
L&L Liquor, Al.

Peter Heimark:
Al, yes.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
I don't remember Al's last name. He was the nicest guy you've ever met. Just absolutely these super nicest guy. It was one of those guys. You go in and you know that nothing is ever gonna go wrong. And so, again, kind of a new package back then was. Bud bud Bud Light, 18 packs,.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Peter Heimark:
And so I said, here's the new package. He'd been mostly selling 12 packs and suitcases. I said, hey, let's try 18 packs and got on the shelves. I got to face it on a shelf. We got the cooler sticker and we did everything. Well, a week later, he was out of stock. He he'd blown through. He's like his amazing success. He's like, so can I get more? It's like, well, we're gonna have to wait because the post office only once a month. And he was at first he was kind of like in disbelief. He's like, what we to do? How could you run me out? I was like, I how was I supposed to know? That was just the wrong answer. I was like, dumb, arrogant, you know, a kid being like, wait, what do you blame me for my my fault? Because he really needed me to to have. Yeah. Yeah. He gets it later on one week. So he threw me out the store. He's like he's like get out my store.

Tracy Neal:
Kick you out of the store, huh?

Peter Heimark:
He'll kick me out the store. And I kind of went with my bruised pride to my supervisor, Amelia Ramirez, you know, great industry vet was like this. This is what happened in Amelia. I can only imagine is wrestling with the idea of like, oh, my God, my boss's kid is kicked out of the store. How about Millie was, you know, this strong guy and he said, you have to talk yourself back and you realize you can't go fix this where you gotta talk yourself back in the store. I was not happy about that at the time. And I was like, how is so unfair? How was I supposed to know? He's like, you're supposed to know because you're the sales rep. He gets here. He's like, even if you didn't know, if it wasn't your quote-unquote fault, you got you got to figure out who's going to fix this woman. So I went and I spent some time and I went back in. I was like, out. I apologize. You know, here's here's how I write. Here's how I came up with thing. And I was just wrong. And so here's how we're going to bridge the you between now and the next time you come by. And here's what we're gonna do and next time you buy that today that if you're willing to. This is the program I'd like to put together. And he goes, I'm so glad you came back to talk to me because I was so mad at you. And there he goes. He goes. Now, you see how important my sales rep could be to me, cause I really need you to give me. Yeah. Nice. And so that was that was that was my first big failure was it was screw and I went up with. I'm sure I've met some other dudes.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. I had. I did something similar in my first six months in the industry so I would have been about 22 years old in 1994, '95 and I was selling Steinlager on draft and I had my one of my first draft handle's was in Reno at this bar and then I got my car and went down the street and I went to the next on premise account and I told the guy you should do this because the guy down the street did it and if you don't do it, everyone's gonna go down there. And he picked up the phone and called the guy on the street. He goes, hey, I got a sales rep down here is blackmailing me. That puts Steinlager on because he said, you put it on. I think you should take it off. We both kick this guy out again. Now, you know, I was in my first three or four months of selling. I didn't realize that, you know, in my mind, this was an extremely effective short term strategy to get what I wanted. And I didn't realize that's not how you play accounts off of each other. And I'll tell you, there was a there was a sales manager in Reno that reminded me of that incident for nearly 23 years. Well, wouldn't let me forget how I screwed that up. Now to Steinlager Handles Forum. And I think I lost another handle in the same meaning. So and then there's a there's another instance. You said you had to go back and say, you're sorry that I actually have a situation right now where I have somebody that I didn't treat. Right. Put that way. Just two weeks ago and right now in 2008, I didn't treat somebody right. I mean, I've known in the industry for a while and I'm in I'm preparing right now to go back and say, I'm sorry. And it's it's tough. But you know what? I know. I know. I have to do it. And I know I'm in the wrong. And I'm. I'm not looking forward to it, but at the same time, I'm so glad that I'm of the the the the maturity level and the age and the experience of where I'm at. That I know I want to do it because it's the right thing and that person is important to me. And I'm humble enough to say I was an idiot and I treated you wrong. I'm sorry.

Peter Heimark:
It's it's hard to do. But fortunately, my wife gives me plenty of practice.

Tracy Neal:
Nice. All right. So, you know, we've touched on it earlier, but last year there was a pretty big week for you guys in terms of the shakeup in your portfolio. And you weren't alone. It was. We're in Southern California. When that reads Beer Business Daily and everything going on with Harry talks about and you guys had one of your or you sold. Is that the right word? Way to say it. You sold one of your largest. You sold the rights, 20 largest suppliers?

Peter Heimark:
That's eventually the way it came out. So on the.

Tracy Neal:
I want to be respectful with my language.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. Why? I think a lot of this is public. So on Friday, on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, I got a call from Constellation saying, hey and I will be in Southern California on Tuesday and we would like to meet with you. Well, stuff it all even happening. They'd already terminated their distributor in San Marcos. So it kind of had an idea. There was a brand new warehouse being built about two blocks from here that had the signs outside saying hiring drivers and merchandisers. And they had Corona's sign. So can already an idea of what was coming.

Tracy Neal:
There's actually Corona signs?

Peter Heimark:
Well, they had a little Corona signs

Tracy Neal:
Is a little tiny. Meanwhile, you're the Corona distributor.

Peter Heimark:
Meanwhile I'm the Corona distributor. So the Corona Modelo distributor. So so I kind of knew it was coming. So they came and met with us and they said, you know, there's things are changing in the marketplace. Competitive pressures needed to become more efficient in the marketplace. So effective 30 days from now, we are terminating our contract with me, 30 days to find a qualified buyer for your business. We had a pretty emotional debate, at least emotional on my side about whether this was the right thing for them to do. I reminded them that I had the highest market share for them. I think it makes with the exception, maybe Ace was terminated. I believe that they got the same meeting the day after I did.

Tracy Neal:
Ace. The top Anheuser, a Anheuser-Busch distributor in downtown Los Angeles?

Peter Heimark:
So they had the same meeting a day later, and the two of us were the highest Constellation's share wholesalers in the country at the time. So we hadn't been screwing up. I think it's fair to say and that they they wanted and I keep asking why, why, why? And one of the two kept telling me I am with ABC putting a lot of pressure on you. So that's ridiculous. We had a Modelo side as it came in. You saw our beautiful michaelph with inside the building. That was a Modelo sign right before that. And I said, well, you're not terminated. And we end. And Constellation had just become our number one supplier. Three months before. Like in June of that year, we had a big party with illicit local Constellation people that they were now officially our number one supplier. Yeah. So I said, did you not terminate the Anheuser-Busch wholesaler terminating Constellation wholesaler and.

Tracy Neal:
Not terminating any Anheuser-Busch distributor because the majority was Constellation. You're terming a Constellation distributor.

Peter Heimark:
Yes. I said.

Tracy Neal:
A network that they have tried to.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah, their gold network that they kept asking us to invest in and trust in and be a part of the gold network. And we'd even I think one of the other times you and I had talked on the phone, we had just finished selling it. We had made the decision to sell. We used to have a Heineken Dutch portfolio here and we made the decision to divest of that portfolio, sell it to our competitors. In exchange, we sold 150000 cases of Heineken business that was on a slight decline of about 6 percent to our competitors in exchange for 10,000 cases of Ballast Point.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. To get that aligned.

Peter Heimark:
Because we wanted to align with because Constellation, because they just say, yeah, because they'd said, hey, trust in us, align with us, be part of the gold network. And we believed in that ad thought not to say we were we're giving up on our AB partners, but we kind of felt like, you know, we needed to. This was this horse was running and we needed to run with it. Well, now we're sitting at this table and I look over it at that time. I see you're not terminated. Constellation wholesaler. And I looked at who was a little more straightforward and I said, why are you doing this? He said, we need big, efficient, single point of contact distributors. We need distributor who can leverage efficiency. So when he said leverage efficiencies, I said, I guess the what we do that believe that core belief that we make a difference doesn't make a difference to them anymore. If they don't believe they can grow their brands, then they certainly don't believe we can grow our brands. And so this mission is probably over, you know, emotionally for the next month. We we work with our legal team. We tried to figure out if we could fight it and everything else. But our competitor, the raises came to us and they made us a pretty generous offer, not an offer I would have accepted without a gun to my head. But it was a generous offer. So you would have preferred not to sell? I would prefer. Oh, absolutely. I would prefer. Everything was hunky dory. I mean, we were.

Tracy Neal:
I think that's important to get out there. I mean, some people read in the news about the multiple that was paid. Right. I mean.

Peter Heimark:
Oh, no, I would not have taken that multiple without a gun to my head. I was either take their multiple their generous offer or go to court for the next several years to fight over something that may or may not have been about the same.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. And it's not because I don't. But where's your mouth? But I think what you're saying is it's not because you don't like money. It's because you are very proud of your family business and the value that you were adding in building and investing in those brands. And to kind of continue down the storyline, you had a major restructuring here as a result of losing that.

Peter Heimark:
Right. It was actually my my number that the pit the fear in the pit of my stomach, the thing that was kept me up every single night from the Tuesday after Labor Day. Until you said very well around the time you saw Michael at the end of September at NBWA. And then we finally. Dominated this whole deal and the end of October was those people, all the people that were here. We had the time. We had over 220 employees. Now about 110. So I knew we did the math was half of our volume, half of our revenue, half of everything that was going to go away over within two months. So we had to restructure to get that done. And I love this isn't just a family business because my family owns it's a family because this is a family. These people are my family. I mean, not my little.

Tracy Neal:
Exactly. Chris Caffey said, Caffey Distributing. He said, I don't remember the number but let's just say 220 that I don't employ 220 people, I employed 220 families. And you felt the same way.

Peter Heimark:
So was it was just killing me. How am I going to do this? How am I? And because I at the motivating factors, how do I take care of my people? How do I survive? How does my family survive through this to even stay in the business? And I wanted to stay in business. So how do I comeback to create success for the people who are sticking with me? And quite frankly, go out and kick Constellation's ass and get my payback because, yeah, I was highly motivated by revenge at that point. At street level, not something crazy or weird or. Yeah. You know, driving to Chicago and doing that scene from Die Hard or something like that. Just how do I how do I take it back?

Tracy Neal:
Get market share.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. We had grown them from 10 to 30 market share. How was I going to get it back. Okay. And so the first thing we did is we we we realized we needed the biggest cuts. We're gonna be in our sales department, our merchandising environment and in our warehouse delivery. We knew a between this business and next door is a flooring distributorship that we're also invested in and we could use the drivers. And B, we knew that the demand for drivers was going to be so heavy that we were going to lose a bunch of them anyway. So we really needed to take figure out what how we were gonna deal with sales, merchandising and warehouse. And so what we offered was a voluntary severance package for all the employees in those groups. It would pay off for a week of pay for every year of service and then corresponding health benefits.

Tracy Neal:
You gave a week of pay for every area of service.

Peter Heimark:
And so they could decide to do that. Or they could.

Tracy Neal:
You didn't have to do that, right?

Peter Heimark:
We didn't have to do it. And we had to do the six week war notice. So they had told people they had six weeks left and then they could decide.

Tracy Neal:
But you went above and beyond game a week.

Peter Heimark:
So we had about that little over 100% of the subscription to that that we needed, which meant that I had some great stories. So it sales reps who I thought very highly of came to me and say, you know, I've always wanted to go into law enforcement. I always wanted to go back to college or is want to do this or that. And I'm so happy here. They just didn't do it. And now you're giving me opportunity to do it because of that severance package. So I was like,.

Tracy Neal:
It's great.

Peter Heimark:
It's great, you know, did you guys do that? And then the folks that stayed with the true believers that really said, you know, they shared a lot of those same motivations I did. And they they wanted to prove that they could succeed for the spires that they were left. They wanted to take care of their families, obviously, but they also want a little payback. So we have so we so by call it November 1st was more like a little bit late October. But November 1st, we were restructured. We went back to market. We get BI share data for AB to see how our aybe share is doing every month. And we have gained share every single month for B starting in November at an accelerating rate. So I think we're we're getting it done. But I can also say I give a plug for you that you're a part of that used to be our strategics tool to as much as anything, not just to sell more beer, but to keep the suppliers happy. We had the highest ad feature ad feature display coverage of any constellation, maybe wholesaler in the L.A. area because we had such a good we had to take a pulse on what we were executing in the field using your platform. And so that was a great way to keep the suppliers happy. Still a little beer more a little more beer and make sure we're doing our job now that we're in, you know, full kind of pirate mode and going out and trying to take back share. It's a great way to know exactly where the opportunities are, where we can get, you know, where we can take this, where we can do that extra display of Australia, an extra display of Mexicali, you know, get Michelob Wolter up where you know. So it's it's been a great way to add that. I think it's been integral into our taking that share back.

Tracy Neal:
Awesome. Well, that's that makes me really happy here. Thank you for saying that. And with that, I'll kind of dive into that. I usually save that question for the very end. But since you brought it up on how our system on our platform does, you know, thank you for being a partner. Thank you for using the iSellBeer platform. You guys were you guys jumped in really strong and I think you said you had the best display support a feature execution for as an AB or Constellation wholesaler in all of Southern California.

Peter Heimark:
Or at least L.A. Base.

Tracy Neal:
Or the L.A. area? Yeah, in the L.A.

Peter Heimark:
That's what we had going down.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And so what would you say to other Anheuser-Busch distributors out there, because sometimes when when I'm meeting a new distributor and I'm trying to sell them our platform, I get the attitude. Well, it's software. It's a cost. It has to be budgeted next year. And I try and spin that and I go, you know what? It's an investment. And if you spend a dollar and you make a dollar ten, you should not wait to do that. You should do that today. Yeah. Maybe you shouldn't wait the budget. So that's my spin on it. But I won't ask you. You're somebody who spent a dollar on us, right? Are you? How quickly do you get the ROI on the iSellBeer platform or how fast can you measure it? And is it investment or is it a cost to you?

Peter Heimark:
It's definitely an investment. And as you can remember that the when we first got started, we that setup period is a little you know, there's a lot of work that needs to go into getting everything set up correctly and getting it launched and then the training period of getting folks to use it. And anything, anything you invest in software vehicles, you name it, you know, if you're employees, if you don't train them properly and don't get them to embrace it, it's not going to have a good ROI for you. And, you know, we're having a little bit of merchandiser turnover, so we're having to invest a little extra time into training them to use it properly. But once they're all up and running it, it is great because the number one thing to change driven market and we're heavily change driven here. The number one thing you could do. You've got. So hope hopefully supposedly here suppliers out selling and free display's stuff that your sales reps don't need to go and and spend a lot of time selling in. They don't need to burn their political capital to ask for favors. These displays were sold in at the buyer level. And so being able to identify it, make sure you're identifying those opportunities and execute against them right away. That's like that's that's free beer you're getting on the floor. And then that allows you to to free up your both your sales reps times. And you're really good merchandisers, the ones that do their own kind of selling on the side to look for all the other opportunities. And what you end up getting is a lot more you know, a lot more points of interruption on the floor, a lot more visibly impactful displays on the floor, a lot more key locations. And then you get the retailers a start. You know, a lot of a lot of retail chain retail managers, you know, they get they have different philosophies about display. Some of them love them. A lot of them think that that's just crowding up their floors or that it's just building up their inventory. But when you can show them that that display on the floor is going to have much better chance of shrinking down to nothing and all getting sold out the front door than the inventory in the back room. Then they start becoming believers with you and they hope they help you start. You're keeping that mission going of pushing displays up for. And this tool is a great way of empowering your frontline people to do that, rather than having your managers constantly going around and saying, why is this up? Why is it that up? It gives them a Thursday morning. Everybody's looking and Ruby says, okay, here's all the gaps. Is this rookie merchandise merchandiser who forgot the track to display or is this a retailer who pushed back and said, no? Or is this we just forgot? And it tells you exactly. Hey, look, here's the opportunities that we have. Two days to go get them before the weekend hits.

Tracy Neal:
Yes. You're talking about leading indicators versus lagging indicators right?

Peter Heimark:
Exact, exactly.

Tracy Neal:
Lagging indicators is looking to see what what your results were.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. And I want to be a little bit careful here because I love my primary partner, Anheuser-Busch. We provide them a lot of this same data display, tracking everything else. The difference is we can't do anything with that data. It goes to them for reporting purposes. This is actionable. It comes back.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, you're talking about the ghost, the model that hands. So you so your sales reps use go spot check and the iSellBeer platform.

Peter Heimark:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
And the GoSpotCheck. I have to be careful, too, because in some ways GoSpotCheck is a competitor of ours. But in other ways, they're a partner of ours where certain suppliers more so in the wine and spirits side. But there's certain suppliers that require them. But the distributor uses us and we convert photos and data and send it to them. But in most cases, their competitor and we like it with distributors using ISO beer. But you're seeing the go spot check. That information goes more to Anheuser-Busch. It's not actionable at the distributor level.

Peter Heimark:
That's that that's my perception of it. And maybe it GoSpotCheck guy will listen to this podcasts podcast. They come back and say why you're not using it correctly. But I haven't. That's it. It's it's a great way to show their breweries what we're doing and to share that information with them. But it's not a good way. It doesn't give us actionable that.

Tracy Neal:
Do you look at the ad tracker live on on your app and see where the ads are? I mean, I know you're the president.

Peter Heimark:
I'm the president. So but I. But but, Michael, he mentioned RGA at general manager. He's looking at that every week. And then our sales team.

Tracy Neal:
So you probably haven't tried our daily display contest then? I haven't.

Peter Heimark:
No.

Tracy Neal:
I'm going to show you that. That is a I know you're a happily married man, but you've probably heard of the term Tinder, right? Tinder. Tinder is this single.

Peter Heimark:
My best man is still single. So he's he he's gives me the ins and outs.

Tracy Neal:
So he swipe right, swipe left. Right. So we've we copied that on daily display contests. And what happens is anyone in your organization, including you can pull that up in the app and it'll randomly pull up displays from around your organization from last week. And you swipe right. If it is meeting execution standards and the sales rep gets 5 points times the number of displays, it's a 5 multiplier if you swipe left. There are eight things that you can identify that might need to be improved, like where's the price, where's the P.O.S. can and bottle mics, sister brands, stuff like that. And for everyone you choose, the point multiplier goes from five to four to three to two to one, right? It doesn't go to zero and it doesn't go negative. So at least they're gonna get one point per case if there's four things that could be improved on that display. And then we just released a new feature last month. We got this idea from one of our distributors in Iowa. They said, you know what, sometimes it displays outstanding. You know, it's better than just swipe. Right. We want to have swipe up. So now you can swipe up any 10 times the points as a multiplier. And then the result is that there's a leaderboard and everyone can see which sales rep has how many points as well as which what their opportunities are by route. So you can see somebody has it says, where's the price? Selected nine times. Right now, the caveat there is that every photo can be judged up to three times. So nine times might be three displays as opposed to nine displays that don't have price on it. Right. And then you keep points. And this whole idea of gamification in game of find the act of selling beer is something we're really passionate about. And I'm using a lot of what I'm learning from my teenagers and my kids and everything they're involved with with Minecraft and Fortnight and all the different games that they do and building that into our software in the future. Because, frankly, if, you know, 10 years from now, if you think a 12 year old is going to use a when they're 22. Right. And working for you, if you think they're going to use a dropdown list to select a method for ordering a SKU, you're crazy because they're not. It's got to be fun. It's got to be interesting and it's got to be gamified. If we're going to employ future generations in this industry, because that's what they're going to demand.

Peter Heimark:
That's a great point.

Tracy Neal:
Or they're going to or they're gonna walk out and say, I'm not using old technology. I don't want to see a blue screen or green screen screen and I don't wanna see dos looking font. Awesome. So as we wrap it up, I usually ask for a little endorsement or your story behind the iSellBeer platform. You already gave that to us. Let me go to my last question here. Is there anyone out there that you want to give a shout out to from a mentor standpoint, whether it's at the supplier level, the distributor level, the retail level that you felt like you just want your big thank you to for helping develop you in your career.

Peter Heimark:
Oh, God, that's a tough one as so many. I would actually like to give. Oh, man, there are so many. Yeah. I'll go back to my some of my original mentors. Guys, a Bill Shiner used to be a general manager here. Lou Enriquez, who is a general manager over at ACE. Bill Lazaridis, it's your distributor up in Bakersfield. These guys called George Couch up and up in a moderate, you know, as well. I was a young kid. I would see all these guys and they gave me a lot of great advice on being in the beer business, running the business, dealing with suppliers, dealing with customers. The whole thing. Yeah, you know, it's great. It's one the best things about this business is the people you meet. You make friends. Well, I've me now and me and being on NBWA, There's Miller Coors guys that have become good friends of mine and.

Tracy Neal:
You're on the NBWA?

Peter Heimark:
A I'm on the north side. I'm an officer and.

Tracy Neal:
An officer. Okay.

Peter Heimark:
And that's the best thing about this business is you meet people from all over the country and they're very generous with their advice. Most of it pretty good.

Tracy Neal:
And you said you've got great friends in the MillerCoors Network.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah. Yeah. I've become very good friends with Michael Celesio over in Alabama and Bryan Geller in Missouri. And I'm sure I was not thinking about my head.

Tracy Neal:
You know, it's it's it's fun to hate the competition. But not hate the competitor.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
You know what I mean? Like, I I when I was on the Coors side, I remember one of the one of the more disappointing days I had was the day I actually met my Anheuser-Busch competitor face to face because it became much harder to dislike him. Right. Because at the end of the day, we all respect what we're trying to do out there. You know, and when I didn't know him, he was this faceless competitor that I like to, you know, metaphorically stomp on each day. And then I met him and it like, I can't man, I kinda like that guy.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
It's hard to dislike him now. You know, you don't want to beat his brands every day. Is hard to hard to dislike him when you get to know him, because we're all just we're all just out there trying to do the same job.

Peter Heimark:
Yeah, that's true. But I'm still gonna pound my distributor as well like Brian and Michael so much just because they're in Alabama and Missouri respectively. So I don't.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, we're far away.

Peter Heimark:
But yeah, that's very true. That's great. People in this industry across all levels.

Tracy Neal:
Good. Awesome. Well Peter, I've really enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing your not only your first day on the job, but kind of the family history of Heimark distributorships and Triangle. Thank you for sharing the tough and challenges that you had in the big transition you guys went through last year. I know from talking to some of your people on your staff as well as your leadership team, that there's nothing but pride and integrity behind this operation. And I think that shows in your culture and you've got a lot to be proud of here, too. I think Grandpa Rudy.

Peter Heimark:
Yep. Remember Rudy.

Tracy Neal:
Grandpa Rudy would be very proud of what's going on here at Triangle and Heimark. And I think you've you've shared a lot with us. So thank you very much.

Peter Heimark:
Thanks. Appreciate that.

Tracy Neal:
Make it a great week. See you at the NBWA.

Peter Heimark:
Sounds good.

Tracy Neal:
Thanks, Peter. 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 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 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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