Ep. 023 NBWA NextGen: Chris Landers, L. Knife & Son

This is the first of our four part series at NBWA Next Gen. Chris Landers is establishing a new legacy at L Knife and Son. Listen as Tracy and Chris talk about Chris’ first day selling beer, the things he learned and the relationships he made along the way. Our industry is all about our community, and we couldn’t be more proud to present to you Chris Landers.

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Chris Landers:
Is the Fourth of July week. So obviously the biggest week of the year.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Chris Landers:
And I had a I was trying to be a hero and I was doing 11 stack of 30 packs on a two wheeler down the stairs.

Tracy Neal:
Eleven stacks of 30 packs on a two wheeler.

Chris Landers:
Yeah, we usually do 10. That's pretty much standards.

Tracy Neal:
Ten is the max, okay.

Chris Landers:
And just dumps the entire thing, two bumps down the stairs. Boom.

Tracy Neal:
My guest for episode number twenty three is Chris Landers. Chris is the first of four episodes that I conducted while attending NBWA's next gen conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. In fact, I want to especially thank Craig Purser, Ken McNish and Lester Jones for hosting me and continuing to support the iSellBeer podcast and the iSellBeer Sales Execution Software platform. The next gen conference is made up of beer distributor leaders who are either legacy relatives of current owners of a distributorship or recognized future leaders of distributorships or both. Now, getting back to Chris, Chris is a management trainee at L Knife and Son and AB distributor located in Kingston, Massachusetts. He's just returned to the family business after working in the high end confectionery chocolate industry. We're sitting in his hotel room on the 44th floor of the Sheraton in New Orleans after having only met each other a few moments before during lunch. He's a millennial and he's my new best friend in the beer business. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. iSellBeer presents to you, Chris Landers.

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

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

Film it all the freakin chips. Kip.

A point. Don't be jealous that I've been shown online games all day.

We have a pawn in the back pool and upon a 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:
All right, Chris. Thanks for joining the podcast. Glad to be here with you. And I mean, this is just spur of the moment. I mean, we're we're we're downstairs. We're eating lunch. We don't even know each other. I sit at your table. Couple guys go, hey, you're the podcast guy. And I start talking about it. And I'm like, Chris, you might want to do an episode. And you're like, sure,.

Chris Landers:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
Let's go upstairs and do an episode.

Chris Landers:
Why not.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. So tell me about where. I think I said it in the intro. But we're here at the next gen conference for the NBWA. We're in New Orleans. The next gen conference is for sons and daughters and aunts and uncles and family members of the beer distributor network. Right. People who own beer distributorships that either have family members working in those distributorships or were planning on passing on those distributorships. This is kind of the family of families. And the next gen represents presumably mostly the younger people. So tell me, how does that line up for you? What makes you a next gen family member for the distributorship you work with, which is L Knife out of Massachusetts? Oh, wait, wait. We forgot some. Grab our beer, grab our beer. Holding up your microphone so everybody gets to enjoy it. There we go.

Chris Landers:
Cheers.

Tracy Neal:
Cheers.

Chris Landers:
So, yeah, had to go back to your question. This is a perfect setting for me. I'm part of a fifth generation family owned beer distributorship.

Tracy Neal:
Fifth generation.

Chris Landers:
Fifth. I'm fifth generation. So kind of fits in perfectly with the next gen. So I think it's a great avenue and opportunity for a lot of us young people to network and kind of learn. You know, they discuss in their opening remarks this morning, you have an opportunity here to see what the rest of the country is up to and what sort of challenges and opportunities they see out there. Because when you're in your market, you're really you and yeah, they're the competitor. Whoever else is out there, it's just you two or three. However many of you there are.

Tracy Neal:
So fifth gen, I'm still stuck on the fifth generation, though. What? So what year was L Knife started.

Chris Landers:
To go back in history. My great. Great. Great great grandfather immigrated from Italy in the late 1800s and he just started as a pushcart business in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Tracy Neal:
So late 1800s, he's doing a pushcart.

Chris Landers:
Yeah, just grain and farming supplies eventually turned into selling Budweiser and then prohibition happened where he stopped selling beer obviously and just sold kind of malting barley and stuff like that. After prohibition ended in Anheuser-Busch.

Tracy Neal:
Malt & Barley and yeast and water.

Chris Landers:
Exactly. Yeah, right. This starter pack.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. Do it yourself.

Chris Landers:
Do it. Yeah. DIY. Before DIY was a thing now. But then they came back after prohibition start selling bud and it's grown from there. My grandfather came around and married my grandmother who is the daughter of the owner, if you will.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
He started as a route salesman after he was in the Marine Corps, and he's really taken it to where it is now. He got 20 plus distributors across the United States and a lot of family involved.

Tracy Neal:
Your grandfather, we've got Veterans Day coming up this Monday, so we will give a salute. Was it your grandfather who was in Marines?

Chris Landers:
Yeah, he was a Marine. Yep.

Tracy Neal:
Excellent. Thank you, Grandpa.

Chris Landers:
Sheehan. Yeah. Jerry.

Tracy Neal:
Grandpa Jerry from serving our country on Veteran's Day.

Chris Landers:
He'll appreciate that.

Tracy Neal:
Yep. And in fact, I just sent out a Facebook request earlier saying, hey, for all sales reps that have served our country, send us up, send us at the iSellBeer Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Send us a picture of your service picture. And we're gonna do a collage highlighting all the people who sold, who sell beer regardless, a brand around the country who have served. And I'm really excited because are already getting a couple of pictures in and I'm excited to do that clause. And it may only be 30 or 40 pictures this year, but if we do it every year, we can build on it and have that representation.

Chris Landers:
We have quite a few reps and merchandisers and guys in our business at at L Knife and within Sheehan Family Companies have served in active military members. So we're very tight connection with.

Tracy Neal:
So you guys make it a priority in your recruitment and really look for people who've who've served?

Chris Landers:
I think yeah, for sure. I haven't had too much experience in that recruiting process just growing up around the business. I know there being a lot of men and women who have been a part of the armed services. So.

Tracy Neal:
That's great.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Good. So are your parents involved in the business day to day?

Chris Landers:
My father is. Yes.

Tracy Neal:
You father. Okay. And what are your responsibilities at the distributorship? Let's go the marque question.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Because if I ask your responsibilities today and maybe you're irrelevant compared to what you did, tell me it my marque question for the podcast. Right. We're getting to a little early. And by the way, can you give us your age?

Chris Landers:
I'm 31 years old.

Tracy Neal:
Chris, 31 years old. So when did you start in the beer business? And what was your first role?

Chris Landers:
I think funny question. I always joke with my friends, normal kids, when you get grounded, you go to your room or you have to do chores for a week when me and my brother got in trouble. My dad took us to work in a warehouse for a week and we did recycling and we did. I worked in breakage and risk. And so that was that was kind of our we had to clean out the trucks. So that's I guess, when I started. But actually.

Tracy Neal:
Non paid though, right?

Chris Landers:
Unpaid. Unpaid. Right. Digging myself out of the hole, one one broken case at a time. But no, I actually started when I was in high school working in the warehouse, be picking orders, helping out with odd jobs around the warehouse, whether it was routine maintenance stuff. I worked on the trucks after that and merchandiser sales rep, so on and so forth.

Tracy Neal:
And then your new title today?

Chris Landers:
I'm in a management trainee at L Knife and Son. So they've started a new program to kind of cultivate a little bit more younger professionals. So I do a two year rotational program where I do different assets of the business.

Tracy Neal:
Ok. So which section are you on right now?

Chris Landers:
I'm in sales, so I just started about six months ago. Kind of a weird tale to where I've got today. But I've worked for the family. I worked for the WD in Boston and worked for some craft distributors. And then I got my MBA at North-Eastern. And after that I worked for Lindt, the Swiss chocolate manufacturer.

Tracy Neal:
L-I-N-D-T.

Chris Landers:
Yes, correct. So kind of.

Tracy Neal:
The expensive one written in cursive at the grocery store.

Chris Landers:
That's where premium chocolates. What they were all about. So everybody always said if you want to work for the family, get some experience outside of it, which it's good. I respect and I appreciate. So I worked for them for three years and they recently reach out and asked if I'd be interested in this program. And it's been a lifelong dream of mine to work for the family. So.

Tracy Neal:
That's interesting. It's been a lifelong dream of yours to work for the family. Was there ever a time where you're like, you know what? I just think I want to go be a park ranger or I want to be Cliff Clavin and deliver some letters for the post office. Or maybe I will open up my own frozen yogurt shop or anything like that or what you did, you just kind of deadset know from an early age. And was it because there was pressure to do this job or you were generally attracted to this business?

Chris Landers:
No, as soon as I could. I found out that I wasn't very good at skating backwards and I was playing hockey and it wasn't going to make the NHL. That's when I knew then.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, so do you play like ice hockey.

Chris Landers:
I grew up in the Grove, Massachusetts. You play a lot of hockey usually, but I know for for as long as I can remember, this is what I've always wanted to do. Never any pressure from my parents or extended family to do this kind of the mantra was, you do whatever you want. We're going to support you if you want to be a teacher, if you want to be an astronaut. Anything in between. And, you know, this family business is going to be here if you want to do it. And they've given me great advice and tools. My parents and my grandparents, great mentors throughout our family.

Tracy Neal:
That's awesome.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
What are what are some of the challenges of being the owner's son or, you know, likewise, the owner's daughter. Right?

Chris Landers:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
There's a lot of nest gen folks downstairs at this conference who are the owner's sons and the owner's daughters. I know that sometimes there are workers that kind of refer to them in some not so attractive names.

Chris Landers:
Definitely.

Tracy Neal:
You won't really get into. But I guess the question is really around. You didn't you didn't ask to be born in the family you were born in. You didn't ask to be given the opportunities that were you yet you were given. So in some ways, it must be a little bit tough to be labeled like that and always, continually, continuously having to prove that you're willing to work as hard as everybody else or harder and that you're willing to learn. Tell me a little bit about that.

Chris Landers:
Yes. I've always tried to kind of keep my family ties in relationship to my family members, you know, on the downlow and just try to be honest, hardworking employee, because that's honestly at the end. That's who I am. I work for the family. I am a family member. But I still have to follow the same rules and regulations as everyone else and just work as hard as I can and be as transparent and honest with the customers, whether with my counterparts. It's there. You know, you do definitely get that stigma every now and then that you're the owner's son or whatever grandson. But you just have to work as hard as you can. And like you said, be honest.

Tracy Neal:
Do you have brothers or sisters?

Chris Landers:
Younger brother. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
And a younger sister.

Tracy Neal:
One I know. Sometimes people might categorize like, oh, they're family. They all think the same. Which is really easy to say from the outside. But you know, from the inside, I've got a couple of brothers, I have parents. But we think more dislike than we do alike. We love each other.

Chris Landers:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
We respect each other's differences. But there's a lot of ways that we're really, really different. I would imagine that's a little bit the same in your family.

Chris Landers:
For sure. Yeah. My sister doesn't work in the business for my brother does. And we do have a lot of similarities. But then we do also have a lot of differences. And I think that's what makes us unique in our own ways and in our ability to do our jobs. Maybe we go about a different way, but I think at the end of the day, we both get the desired result.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, good. Let's go back to your first day on the job. And I know that that's very blurry because there's the punishment period of elementary school and.

Chris Landers:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
There is the punishment period of junior high. And eventually you probably started getting two or three dollars an hour, which might have grown to ten or fifteen.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
At some point in time you graduated from being the side hustle where you're paid on the side or maybe you're paid hourly and you were handed an actual offer for a job on a salary, I would presume.

Chris Landers:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
And you probably kind of thought, wow, I'm being respected as a real employee now that I'm not kind of the, you know, just the family helper.

Chris Landers:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
And that must have felt as good as it felt for me or anyone else that gets our first job. So do you remember that point? You remember that first job? Do you remember your first day on the job, what you were doing then?

Chris Landers:
My first day on the job when I was a salary employee, I was a driver helper on the trucks. And it did it did feel good to be a part of all all pieces of the organization. There's such a sense of camaraderie. And I think that's especially profound with, you know, our drivers and our helpers.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Chris Landers:
So to kind of get in there and obviously you've got to target your back. You're the owner son. Every now and then you get some comments. But the more you work and you kind of integrate with the guys and get out there and have some laughs, sweat a lot, work, work long, hard days in the summertime. So that was really gratifying.

Tracy Neal:
Have you ever. The question is probably yes. So tell me about the time when you had your biggest dolly dump on the two wheeler.

Chris Landers:
Oh my God. I was at. I think it's called Sam's to Liquors in Salem, Massachusetts. And I had there's a Fourth of July week. So obviously the. This week of the year.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Chris Landers:
And I had. I was trying to be a hero and I was doing 11 stack of 30 packs on a two wheeler down the stairs of.

Tracy Neal:
Eleven stacks of 30 packs on a two wheeler.

Chris Landers:
Yeah, we usually do 10. That's pretty much standards,.

Tracy Neal:
Ten is the max. Okay.

Chris Landers:
And just dump the entire thing to bumps down the stairs. Boom. This place is a beer just splattered all throughout the stairwells.

Tracy Neal:
Broken cases, off cans.

Chris Landers:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It was a waterfall Bud Light gone down the stairs. I felt really embarrassed. I looked up and I saw the star and are standing there looking at me. I was just bent over laughing.

Tracy Neal:
That's usually what happens when drop a two wheeler out in the trade. Now I'm working with the driver. There's usually more laughing than.

Chris Landers:
Yeah. You feel that you feel embarrassed at first and then you kind of look around. Everyone's like just having a chuckle about it.

Tracy Neal:
Some pretty good stories on each episode of this podcast, people have dumped the two wheeler full of beer.

Chris Landers:
It's inevitable. I feel like everyone's. It's a rite of passage.

Tracy Neal:
Yes, it is. What was what was the thing that surprised you the most when you got on the sales side of the business that you didn't really know existed as a process or a protocol or a truth? You know, you grew up not being in sales. Now you're in sales whenever you move to sales. What was it when you got to sell? You wow. This is this, isn't it? I didn't realize this.

Chris Landers:
I think the. Everyone says that we're in a business of making relationships, but you never really get to understand it until you are in that firsthand.

Tracy Neal:
You're the frontline guy.

Chris Landers:
Yeah. So I worked at the WD in Boston as a as a sales relief. And I had this one account that I walked in the first day and they kicked me out and say, we don't want the Bud guys in here. I guess they had a better relationship with the last person and I was like, okay, whatever. I walked out, came back next week. Same thing. So third time I went in, I said, what can I do to earn your trust? And I'm a good person. I'll show you like, you know, I'm not going to. I'm sorry. Whatever happened, the past happened. The past. Let's try to start fresh. Well, you can start by bringing up 30 packs in the back. So I went out back, start ringing up 30 packs and.

Tracy Neal:
Ringing up, you mean could break him down from 30 packs in the six packs?

Chris Landers:
Six packs, yep.

Tracy Neal:
In a plastic rigs?

Chris Landers:
So, I'd take about, you know, five to 10, 30 packs, depending on what the shelf needed and what the back stock me didn't just for three weeks. I did that every day and slowly but surely over time. You know, I'd start to get display space. There used to be known, Bud Neons and the windows started to get some neons and windows. At the end of the time, work at WD, I'd walk in those trying my best account. At the end of the at the end of the day, we we had a great relationship. So I think you see both sides of it. You know, you can get totally burned and that's lost revenue for the company. Losing an account. Or then on the flip side, they can be one of your best customers. You kind of have carte blanche in there and can do it. Do it. You will if you if you work hard at it. So that is kind of eye opening. I see both sides of it, you know.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, and you're right. Relationships do matter. It's you know, no matter what happens in this industry, it's still an up and down the street. Business relationships matter. Door to door.

Chris Landers:
Every account. Every account matters.

Tracy Neal:
Tell me a little about your job at Lindt. Lindt Chocolate. Let's get into the specialty high end chocolate world. What kind of things did you? What were your responsibilities there? What kind of things did you learn that were transferable back in the beer? Or maybe insightful to do something different from beer?

Chris Landers:
So I was getting my MBA at North-Eastern and.

Tracy Neal:
What city is North-Eastern.

Chris Landers:
In Boston.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, it's in Boston.

Chris Landers:
Yep. And the only CPG company I knew I to work in CPG was Lindt that offered internship. After my six months. They offered me a full time job and I think that they were took a liking to me because they dealt with a massive food distributor called McClane. And so they saw my previous experience working with a sizable beer distributor and my relationships and kind of the understanding of the business. And using that it went and it was it was a great experience. I worked with McClane Company who sold all of our chocolate to Walmart, Target, Walgreens, United States military, 7-Eleven. So some really, really big accounts. And it gave me great exposure to the way that the rest of the company shops, I'm sorry, the rest of the country shops, you know, massive chain accounts. Massachusetts, we don't have that many chain accounts. So.

Tracy Neal:
That's right. There's a law. Its multiple. Right.

Chris Landers:
Right. So it's mostly packaged liquor, but they're starting to creep in. So I think ultimately gave me great exposure to working with the Walmarts in the world, Walgreens and then a massive food distributor like McClane Company.

Tracy Neal:
Does the chocolate industry deal with schematics and price flow and two tiered pricing high, low? Do they do all that kind of stuff?

Chris Landers:
Yeah. Highly driven by the price of cocoa.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, so the price is very dynamic based on cocoa.

Chris Landers:
It kind of.

Tracy Neal:
Quarterly. Monthly?

Chris Landers:
No, there's nothing drastic like that in terms of pricing, but every couple of years the price increases, which kind of creates a ripple effect throughout the industry. So from the smaller our side, the lower priced brands like Hershey and Mars to the premium, Godiva, Lindt's.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
You see a dynamic and shopper behavior.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And is that like good, better and best.

Chris Landers:
In terms of?

Tracy Neal:
In terms of the chocolate brands, you know, like, you know, we have the Natural light. Bud Light.

Chris Landers:
Oh, yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Right.

Chris Landers:
Yeah. The premium. Yes.

Tracy Neal:
Better and best model.

Chris Landers:
Definitely. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
So there's there's I know the premium category. And there's a mainstream called mainstream.

Tracy Neal:
Do you still have friends or contacts at Lindt?

Chris Landers:
Yeah. I mean I my boss was a fantastic guy.

Tracy Neal:
Here's what we're gonna do.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Every sales rep that's on the road today.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Going into grocery stores, please go down the chocolate aisle and buy two or three bars of Lindt Chocolate.

Chris Landers:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
And then here's all you do. Call your. Call your old boss or your old friend and tell him that we're responsible for those extra six thousand bars of chocolate that got bought in the second week in November.

Chris Landers:
This is the. So it's interesting. The seasonality of beer has always been something that I've been familiar with. Living on the East Coast,.

Tracy Neal:
Specially the northeast.

Chris Landers:
Summertime is huge.

Tracy Neal:
Right. Yeah.

Chris Landers:
In the chocolate business, at least for Lindt. They did 70 percent of their annual revenue at three months. So right now, thank you for those incremental dollars.

Tracy Neal:
So they like they like wine. They've got OND.

Chris Landers:
Oh, my goodness.

Tracy Neal:
Right?

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
OND in the wine, wine and spirits business. OND, means October, November, December. You ever talk to anybody out there in wine and spirits? They say I can't talk. I'm in OND. I can't have a meeting. I can't do anything. We're in OND. Because they're the same way. They do a ton of business from October 1st through New Year's Eve.

Chris Landers:
Definitely. Yeah. It's the same. Same. Same thing.

Tracy Neal:
Good. How about some of the mentors or people that worked with you? You know, you've been in the business now long enough that I know you can look back to some of the mentors or early managers that you had there. Is there anyone out there you want to give a shout out to and say, thanks for teaching me the ropes or or be impatient with me when I made mistakes or anything like that?

Chris Landers:
Yeah. I mean, first and foremost, my mother and father have been I mean, my mom when I was little, she worked in the business. And then when she had all three of us, she stayed home and took care of us. And my dad has been a tremendous mentor, my grandfather.

Tracy Neal:
What, your parents names?

Chris Landers:
Ted and Ann Landers.

Tracy Neal:
Ted and Ann. Okay. Hello. Ted and Ann.

Chris Landers:
And then my grandfather, obviously. And then some of the managers.

Tracy Neal:
Is you grandfather still alive?

Chris Landers:
Yep. Yeah, I still kicking. He works every single day of the week.

Tracy Neal:
He goes in the office.

Chris Landers:
All the time.

Tracy Neal:
Do you mind if I ask what kind of car he drives. Cause I always was. I asked. I find this fascinating because most of the really older guys who can afford to drive everything, anything they want usually don't.

Chris Landers:
Yeah. He's he's always driven a black Cadillac.

Tracy Neal:
A black Cadillac.

Chris Landers:
So it hasn't been models of change because it's gotten, you know.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Chris Landers:
Well, modernization of the automobile industry. But.

Tracy Neal:
I knew a distributor on the West Coast who had, let's just say, substantial income.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
And he swore by the Subaru.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Did as did a Subaru all the time. And so there's nothing better than Subaru. Loved every single day.

Chris Landers:
Yep. No. I mean it's going back to the mentors. I've, I feel like I've had drivers who have been a mentor. I've had sales managers up at seaboard because that's kind of where I grew up in the business. Kieron Ganley, who is the sales manager.

Tracy Neal:
What's his name?

Chris Landers:
Kieron Ganley.

Tracy Neal:
Kiron Ganley.

Chris Landers:
He's from Ireland. Yeah, big Irishman.

Tracy Neal:
And he works for the distributorship.

Chris Landers:
Yeah, he's the assistant GM at C board. He's he's worked as a sales manager, as a rep.

Tracy Neal:
How many distributor locations are there in the Sheehan Family Distributions?

Chris Landers:
Over 20.

Tracy Neal:
Over 20. Wow. I didn't realize that. Okay.

Chris Landers:
I believe. I think that's right. That we're up to now. Maybe 19/20 but there's some consolidation.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
So. But yeah. No, that's it. We've had a lot I've been really fortunate to have a lot of great mentors along the way. That's awesome. What's your favorite part about the beer business? Customer interaction. Yeah, I love it.

Tracy Neal:
So you're not a guy who can sit in the office for days upon days.

Chris Landers:
I did that in my previous experience at when a lot of office time. But I think there's such a gratifying feeling getting out there and working from here, if you will, B accounts to D accounts, seeing what they need. At the end of the day, that's for sure. You're here for us to help them along the way. And we're not selling beer or finding out what are there things they need to make their business better. So working in that kind of partnership mentality and helping them.

Tracy Neal:
What's your favorite incentive that you've ever been a part of or that you've written incentives for the sales team to help them reach goals?

Chris Landers:
That's a good question. I think one of my favorite incentives I've been a part of was with Diageo. So Guinness. And I was a trip to Ireland. So working to get displays and incremental sales was a great part of the team I was on at the time and ultimately our team won and our sales manager picked a company in Ireland, which is awesome.

Tracy Neal:
Nice. Do anything special over there in Ireland?

Chris Landers:
Unfortunately, I'm not a big golfer and it was a lot of golf. So I golfed and went fishing one day. But it was just cool to be in the.

Tracy Neal:
Like ocean fishing, lake fishing?

Chris Landers:
No, in a lake in Killarney. I think it was.

Tracy Neal:
Killarney.

Chris Landers:
Killarney. Yeah. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Well you folks from the shore with a bober, you're in a boat

Chris Landers:
We were in and we were in a canoe with a guide and it was pouring rain. It was me and my dad and we caught two fish. I think we're out there for two hours didn't we.

Tracy Neal:
That's why they didn't call it catching.

Chris Landers:
Exactly. Yep. But it was a great experience and one I'll never forget, that's for sure.

Tracy Neal:
Nice. What has the what? So we're at the NBWA Next Gen conference, by the way, I heard they've got an all time high on attendance here at this year's.

Chris Landers:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
That's great to hear.

Chris Landers:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
What's the NBWA Next gen conference or involvement? I don't know. Maybe you've only been here for two hours. Is your first NexGen? I don't know. But what's it done for you in terms of meeting other next gen peers and talking about the business?

Chris Landers:
I think again, it just opens your eyes to what's out there. And you know, I think a lot of the conversations I had last night in the breakout sessions, obviously the hot topic right now is Seltzer. What do you what is your experience in your market? How are you guys? What brands do you have or who are you fighting against and how do you find space? I mean, yeah, I have some accounts in our territory that have two and a half dollars of Seltzer.

Tracy Neal:
Really?

Chris Landers:
There's only so many doors and a liquor store, poket store, grocery store. So what are you seeing? What sort of market dynamics? Who's losing share? Who's gaining share? So it's cool to kind of see. I was talking to somebody who was in Seattle said Seltzer's there, but certainly not two and a half dollars. That's crazy. So I think it's it's kind of cool to see what people are experiencing with trends out there in the market.

Tracy Neal:
Well, it's really good to I could tell you from my own personal experience, the distributors that I've seen grow and thrive is have that network of distributor friends who aren't all your next door neighbors. Right. Neighboring states. Right. It's good to have somebody from Seattle, somebody from Phoenix, somebody from Austin, Texas, and somebody from Nebraska. Right. And you come together on a regular basis and you get these these different perspectives. You're allowed to look at something. What sort of quote that said, if you if you walk around the base of the statue, you can actually see 360 different statues? Yeah, right. Because there's a degree of difference for every step that you take. And it's the same thing with this business. Right. We tend to be in this homogenous zone called our home market or our footprint. And, you know, it's fairly stable. You know, for the most part, the brands change and go up and down. And sometimes it's a little variation in the trade channels, but a lot of times it's the same. And it's getting stepping your mind out of that market, getting those other ideas.

Chris Landers:
Yeah getting experiential, education is something I've always had great, you know, positive feedback on. And I think this is sort of a tool of doing that, getting out, meeting new people, seeing.

Tracy Neal:
Have you ever worked outside of the northeast? Gone with another market.

Chris Landers:
I have work to based in Kingston, but I worked with our craft distributors in California.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. I think that's San Diego, right?

Chris Landers:
Yeah at L.A. and San Diego.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
With Kyle Sartana. He's out there. He is listening. Hi, Kyle.

Tracy Neal:
What's up Kyle.

Chris Landers:
Great guy. And so that was an eye opening experience.

Tracy Neal:
I'm sure Kyle knows our V.P. of sales. Jim Kenny.

Chris Landers:
Probably. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Because Jim Jim always talks about the Sheehan Group in Southern California.

Chris Landers:
Yep.

Tracy Neal:
Sounds of those guys.

Chris Landers:
That's great. Then he definitely know Kyle.

Tracy Neal:
Not yet customers of ours. But we're working on it.

Chris Landers:
All right. I'll let I'll drop Kyle a text.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
So, yeah. It was good to see good experience out there. Obviously, big change. Total Wine, that stuff so different from, you know, Massachusetts.

Tracy Neal:
That's right. Yeah. Tell me about tell me about the Massachusetts Trade Channel landscape. Because we kind of touched on earlier. Right. There's some. And I'm from California, so I'm sorry for not being fully educated on the northeast. I have traveled the whole country. But what I know about Massachusetts is there's some law where a a chain outlet can't own more than two locations.

Chris Landers:
It's a I don't know the exact specifications of the chain laws, but I know that for sure. They're allocated a certain amount of licenses are there. So I stop and shop or.

Tracy Neal:
So how many location we just stop and shop at?

Chris Landers:
We just have in our territory, we have one stop and shop.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
And then.

Tracy Neal:
So it's almost anti chain. You can't have chains.

Chris Landers:
There's two, but then now there's two Total Wines of Massachusetts.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Chris Landers:
There's a couple, Wegmans Whole Foods.

Tracy Neal:
It's starting to creep in a little.

Chris Landers:
We just got a target in Hyannis that's has a beer wine license.

Tracy Neal:
This is going to change the way you do business.

Chris Landers:
Certainly.

Tracy Neal:
And I would say that there's a really good case study in the state of Colorado. It's not identical. But what happened this year on January 1st was that Colorado was always sold what they call the repeal beer or the 3.2 beer in their grocery stores, but they never had full strength beer, which included all the crafts. And of course, there's a gazillion crafts in Colorado. In January, first they open that up so that they could go to the grocery stores. And I think there's a case study there because you hear you've got a distributorship that didn't really wasn't active and it wasn't their fault. This is I'm not blaming the here. This is the way the laws worked. Right. They weren't that active in in working the chain stores the way you work. A change drive. California, Texas. Arizona, Florida. Right. And as they morphed into that, I know that there were a lot of successes, but there were a lot of there are also a lot of growing pains out there with all distributes where there Anheuser-Busch or MillerCoors. So there might be some friends out there and cholera might be worth talking to us as more and more change creep into Massachusetts and you learn how what the dynamics are for changing your business to make it a little bit more aligned with the marketplace.

Chris Landers:
Couldn't agree with you more. And I think some of my experience working at Lindt dealing with those Walmarts and Targets of the world and now I'm starting to see some crossover and you know, the way that we have to manage our business. I mean, Target's been open for three weeks and you're starting to see some similarities between the two.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, awesome. Well, we're going to wrap it up here before I do. Tell me your best beer story. You've been very conservative in control with your stories, Chris.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
I know you got good ones. I've heard stories from sons of beer distributor owners before that. I'm not I only incriminate yourself. You know, I don't want this go straight to the FBI or anything like that. But I know you've got a good beer story in there.

Chris Landers:
I think a good beer story happens to be a great learning lesson from father to son and a teaching moment when I turned 20.

Tracy Neal:
Was a teaching moment at the time. Are you reflecting back and realizing what a teaching moment it was?

Chris Landers:
I think you'll find out. But about 10 minutes after this happened, I understood it was a teaching moment. So I turned 21 and I was walking on the tracks and I met my dad must like overheard me and my friends talking like, oh, we should go to a strip club, whatever. So that next Monday morning I was on the truck with the first stop was strip club. And so you were in there and delivering beer at an early hour and kind of seeing what's going on at that time, which scared the hell out of me, quite frankly.

Tracy Neal:
I mean, basically what you're saying is you don't want to aspire to be one of the guys at a gentlemen's club at 7:00 a.m.

Chris Landers:
7:00 a.m. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Those aren't the people you want to. You don't want to be your target to be like that.

Chris Landers:
You don't want to be there for eggs and legs, as they say.

Tracy Neal:
Eggs and legs.

Chris Landers:
So I after I came out of there, I was like, oh, my goodness, that's I've never gone.

Tracy Neal:
And so, you know, your father overheard you romanticizing or glorifying this trade channel.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
And you thought, you know what? I'm going to send him in there tomorrow morning

Chris Landers:
With this in the bud right away.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Chris Landers:
And got to hold the routing schedule or something. And scared the living daylights out of me.

Tracy Neal:
Good for dad.

Chris Landers:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Good for dad. All right. Well Chris. I know. I've enjoyed having you. We've got to go back downstairs and finish the conference. Thanks for being here. It's been a great pleasure.

Chris Landers:
I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Tracy Neal:
Thank you. Take care. 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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