Ep. 025 NBWA NextGen: Douglas Cone III, Cone Distributing

This is the third of our four part series at NBWA Next Gen. Douglas Cone III is part of a lasting legacy thanks to his heritage. Listen as Tracy and Douglas talk about Douglas’ 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 Douglas Cone III.

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Douglas Cone III:
After the day was over, we were by the pool and my dad said, hey, Douglas let's go run down, you know, run down to the clubhouse and we'll get something to eat. So I said, Okay, let's go, let's go. And he sat me down and we got talking and. He looked at me and said, so I just want to ask you, what are you thinking about coming to business?

Tracy Neal:
My guest for episode number twenty five is Douglas Cone III. Douglas is on the chain reset and customer support team while working at Cone Distributing in Ocala, Florida. In my years across the country, I've always heard great things about Cona distributing. So I was excited when Douglas agreed to sit down with me after we had only just met. This is the third episode of the next gen series and Douglas is as new and fresh as they get to this group. This is his first next gen conference and actually first conference in the beer industry of any type. Like many of the NBWA, next gen members, he's part of a multi-generational family owned distributor and it's really special when I get to interview a 50 or 60 year veteran of the industry. But I find it equally as exciting to interview a young professional like Douglas who will be able to look back and listen to this interview 20, 30 or even 40 years from now. Just imagine, what would your interview sound like if we had recorded it in your first year? But for now, I'm appreciative of the beers we're about to share. As I get yet another millennials perspective on a career in beer, he's a stud with a lifetime of beer industry stories and relationships in the making. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. iSellBeer presents to you, Douglas Cone III.

I am not in the film basket. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the dude.

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

And you know the freakin chips. Kip.

Point. Don't be jealous that I've been shown online with James Calder.

We have a pot in the back, a pool and a pot of coffee. Good for you.

Welcome to the iSellBeer podcast with Tracy Neal, a production for sales reps and distributors who are driving around all day selling beer and the official home of the iSellBeer Nation Facebook group. And now your host. The 1989 winner of the John M. Studebaker Wheelbarrow Race in Hangtown, California, Tracy Neal!

Tracy Neal:
All right. Douglas, welcome to the podcast. It's good to have you here.

Douglas Cone III:
Good to be here.

Tracy Neal:
Hey, it's been nice. I've had the pleasure of meeting you over the last 24 hours. Like I said in the intro, we're here at the next gen conference, the NBWA in New Orleans. And thank you for agreeing to take some time out. Come upstairs to my lovely suite of a hotel room here. I have no idea how I got upgraded, but boy, did I get upgraded. Didn't.

Douglas Cone III:
That's very nice. Yes.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. It was the living room in a full kitchen and an 80 inch TV outside of the bedroom and wall the floor windows overlooking the river here in New Orleans. So.

Douglas Cone III:
Very nice.

Tracy Neal:
So first things first, let's open up our beers. We've got bottles, so it might not have as good of audio, but right up against the microphone. There we go. Hey, beers to that.

Douglas Cone III:
Cheers.

Tracy Neal:
Cheers. You have to take two. All right. So, Douglas.

Douglas Cone III:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
Douglas Cone III. Tell me a little bit about the job that you have. And you're from Cone Distributing in Ocala for Ocala or.

Douglas Cone III:
Ocala.

Tracy Neal:
Ocala, Florida. And tell me about your role in the job today.

Douglas Cone III:
So today really right now I'm in our set team and sales support. So we started that about a year ago or so, and I do, walmarts and public sets is and they have the resets fall and spring resets and we go in and set their stores for him in the fall, in spring and we go in, you know, 5:00 in the morning and then do the resets and.

Tracy Neal:
So you're part of the reset team. Excellent. How long have you been in the business? I know. In fact, do you mind sharing your age with us?

Douglas Cone III:
Thirty years old. I've been in the business for five years now.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Douglas Cone III:
So. And it's learning. The funny thing is you lea rn every day. Learn something new every day. So.

Tracy Neal:
Absolutely so. And I see that, you know, you've got the third as the suffix to your name there. That means that your father is Doug Cone.

Douglas Cone III:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
And your grandfather is Douglas Cone.

Douglas Cone III:
Douglas Cone Senior. Yes.

Tracy Neal:
Is Douglas Cone Senior still alive?

Douglas Cone III:
No. He's passed.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. And did he start the business or how far back does the Cone Distributing business?

Douglas Cone III:
So my dad started the business. My my grandfather was he was in the road construction business. So my dad started the business in '85 and thirty five years now. So and it was I remember the story when my dad said he was talking. I believe it was. His grandfather at the time. Her great uncle said he was in the Coke bottling side. So, so decide,.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So a bit of a Coke background.

Douglas Cone III:
And he was talking in one day and said, you know, I really want to get out of the insurance business. So, you know, I don't know if I want to stay in the insurance business, you know, want to move to a different industry. And he said, well, what about what abouts? You know, soda. You know, that guy? And his uncle said he goes, no, no, no. He goes, you don't want to get in the soda. He goes, you want to go?

Tracy Neal:
Because your uncle had already previously been in the soda?

Douglas Cone III:
Correct.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Douglas Cone III:
And he goes, you want to go to beer? He's like, really? So. So he looked at his options. Yeah. And. They looked at the Mahaffey Mahaffey Distributing Company in Ocala.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Douglas Cone III:
Was up for sale. So my dad looked at that. They were originally from Tampa. So they moved to Ocala in '85, bought the distributorship there and built it from. We started out with. Four counties.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Douglas Cone III:
In about 18 employees and have grown now to 22 counties and roughly 290 employees.

Tracy Neal:
Wow. Pushing 300 people, huh? That's awesome. Good. Good story. All going back to 1985. So the year the Chicago Bears made it to the Super Bowl. I know you weren't alive for that, but trust me, shoot the the Chicago shuffle, whatever it was called was. It was a big deal. So you were not only born in the beer distributorship business, right. But you were there probably a lot as a child, as many sons and daughters. But why do you have any brothers or sisters?

Douglas Cone III:
I have a younger brother. And older sister.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. Is your older sister involved in the business.

Douglas Cone III:
She's not, no.

Tracy Neal:
How about, how about the younger brother?

Douglas Cone III:
My younger brother right now is still in college. So he's thinking about moving into the business. But we'll see how that goes.

Tracy Neal:
What's his name?

Douglas Cone III:
William.

Tracy Neal:
William. William. Stay in college forever. There's no need to go. I'll give you a look here from the adult world. There's no need to come out. Okay. Just just stay there. Get the seven or eight year undergraduate degree and then go for one of those five or six year graduate degrees. And by the time you get out, we'll give Douglas a chance to get a little bit sick and tired of the fun stuff here at Cone. And then you could have the easy job when you come out. All right. That's my advice to a little brother.

Douglas Cone III:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Good. So what do you like best about the beer business?

Douglas Cone III:
The relationships you. The relationships you build through customer relationships to your co-workers?

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Douglas Cone III:
It still is very much a relationship business. And. It you learn something new every day and it doesn't. You never really there's never really a slow time. Yeah, because in our in our territory, we have two large college markets.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. Which colleges are those?

Douglas Cone III:
University of Florida? In Florida, State.

Tracy Neal:
Seminoles and Gators.

Douglas Cone III:
Seminoles and Gators. So, you know, I'm more of a Gator fan, but when when Florida State does well, we do well in Tallahassee and Florida goes well, we'll do well in Gainesville. But then when they play each other, I go for Florida. And we. So we really keep going and don't really have much downtime, too. You don't really have much downtime to the beer business.

Tracy Neal:
Especially in Florida, because I mean, and winters, your winters are pro your peak time, right? Because the randoms down from the northeast.

Douglas Cone III:
Correct. Yep.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Douglas Cone III:
The villages we have the villages. And I tell you.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, I've heard about these these are these giant four and five hundred acre villages where there's like golf carts only and just great places to live if you're retired.

Douglas Cone III:
That is correct. If you have a car in the villages, you you completely outcasted because most people have the golf carts.

Tracy Neal:
That's amazing. That sounds like fun, too.

Douglas Cone III:
It is.

Tracy Neal:
I'm picturing Morty Seinfeld in charge of the homeowners association down in Florida, right. Probably a lot of Morty Seinfeld down there. And it's brought a lot of arguments over what color the flowers are at the entrance of the village by the homeowners.

Douglas Cone III:
That is probably true.

Tracy Neal:
I had the fortune of living on a on a street that had a lot of retirees at one point in time. And believe or not, the biggest arguments were what color the flowers were each season. At the entrance of the community.

Douglas Cone III:
I live in a. I live in an HLA as well.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Douglas Cone III:
And the complex I live in. Most of the residents are retirees.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah

Douglas Cone III:
That is a a argument. What color the flowers are in the manicured and all that.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. So what are some good stories that you heard growing up or not necessarily just good stories, but maybe good examples of how you learned what your dad did for a living. Because, you know, as you grow up it you don't always know what your dad does for a living. And you kind of, you know, first thing that they do one thing and then you go to the warehouse, you learn they do a little bit more and then you go see him give a donation jacket, a charity football game or bid on something at a fundraiser. And you kind of start to go and my dad does this and this and this. Tell me a little bit about how you learned and grew from being a child of your fathers and how that exposed you to the business.

Douglas Cone III:
So I remember one of my greatest memories growing up in the business was. When my dad would go to work, he would take us by. You know, we were five or six. I was five or six years old at the time. And he would take us to work and we would drive. Mr. Hinson was our mechanic. At the time. And he would we would go back there to the mechanic shed and he would take us and ride us around in the truck in his lap, and we would just go around the around the parking lot. And I remember doing that.

Tracy Neal:
And in like a big truck.

Douglas Cone III:
In a big truck. Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. So five or six year old, you're sitting on your dad's lap and like a giant Mack Truck Semi, you know, switching all those gears and filling that power of that big V12 diesel. And I gotta imagine that was a pretty good impression. Thinking my dad is just cool is all right, man. He's driving this big truck.

Douglas Cone III:
And he would go he would go out on when he first started go. I remember that my mom said, you know, she would pack a lunch for him in the morning.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Douglas Cone III:
He would work until about 8 o'clock or so,.

Tracy Neal:
8 o'clock at night?

Douglas Cone III:
8 o'clock. He would come back, have dinner.

Tracy Neal:
Have dinner with the family.

Douglas Cone III:
With the family, and then go back.

Tracy Neal:
And then go back and work warehouse.

Douglas Cone III:
And work warehouse, whatever he had to do.

Tracy Neal:
So the loads for the next day.

Douglas Cone III:
So it was. Seeing that and seeing his work ethic and how he just everyday showed me that, you know. You have to be on the ground and be in it and really learn.

Tracy Neal:
So he taught you.

Douglas Cone III:
So taught me great work ethic.

Tracy Neal:
That's awesome. Yeah. I mean, I haven't met your dad and I'm just starting to visualize who he is. And you could tell just on how you described him that he had a work ethic. Work ethic that was second to none. And that's really probably why he grew the business over the last 35 years.

Douglas Cone III:
He was very. And he's always been you know, there is a one time I remember this this story is he and my mom were on vacation for their anniversary and they were sitting on it was in the keys and they were sitting on the beach. And my dad was in talks with at the time we were Coors, just Coors.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Douglas Cone III:
And my dad had made a play to get Miller in in house to.

Tracy Neal:
What year is this, do you think?

Douglas Cone III:
I believe it was. I want to say it was 1988, maybe.

Tracy Neal:
88, 90.

Douglas Cone III:
He was on the phone. And they told him that. You'll never get. You'll never get Miller

Tracy Neal:
The Miller folks

Douglas Cone III:
The Miller folks. You'll never get Miller on you underneath the roof with Coors. And he's like all right. Okay. If you think so? So.

Tracy Neal:
And today you have it.

Douglas Cone III:
And today we have it. So that was one of the things is if you see the great thing is if you challenge if you challenge him to say, oh, well, you're never gonna.

Tracy Neal:
Be a fighter.

Douglas Cone III:
Yeah. He goes and gets and gets. So that's growing up seeing that. That's what made me come into like enjoy the business and see it. And he's still having fun today. I mean, he's 65 years old, but he has the energy of a 30 year old still. He's got love for the business. And that's really seeing that in our upper management. Now, that gives you drive to stay in the business. That's awesome. And go for it.

Tracy Neal:
That's good. What are some other stories about different brands that you've acquired or that your father has acquired over the years that you remember really stood out as kind of important milestones for growing the family business during the business?

Douglas Cone III:
New Belgium was one that.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Douglas Cone III:
Really was a big deal because.

Tracy Neal:
In 2005 to 2007 era when they went national.

Douglas Cone III:
And we were there. I believe we were the first first distributor to bring to Florida. So New Belgium was thinking about expanding and had expanded east a little ways and. Yeah, and they were. Florida was a, you know, one of their target markets to get into. And my dad went and met with the New Belgium folks and back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and just kept at it. And we got him in Florida. Yeah. And they've been a great brand for us to this day and yeah,.

Tracy Neal:
They've they've got a lot of they're doing a lot of good things right now with their put.

Douglas Cone III:
Right. Right. In the voodoo series, the Voodoo Ranger series is taking off and.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah, Harry was just talking about that business daily right. Last week. How good that series is doing so.

Douglas Cone III:
And it's it's really big. When they came to Florida.

Tracy Neal:
That's great. It's great to have partners like that. And there's certainly a much I mean, there's a lot of good suppliers out there. They're there. You know, they're one of the really good ones. Good, good family values, good environmental values, good ownership model. Have you been? I'm certain you've been to Fort Collins.

Douglas Cone III:
I have not been to Fort Collins yet.

Tracy Neal:
Oh you need to go.

Douglas Cone III:
That is definitely one of my stops on my list. Very, so. Go to. And then I believe they've got one in North Carolina as well.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. Yeah. Which which route accounting software you guys use by chance?

Douglas Cone III:
Encompass.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So I got two reasons. I was I was hoping you would say that because. Yes, now you've had two reasons to go to Fort Collins next year. I think it's first or second week of June. Is there UGM. It's called the Users Group Meeting. Fancy acronym for you could share. And they invite all their distributors. I was lucky enough to be invited to this last year. It was my first trip to Fort Collins. I was there for six days. And I'll tell you, I loved Fort Collins. What a great little town it was. And Encompass had their headquarters is right across the river from the New Belgium Brewing Company. Like, OK, I'm not even kidding. You could walk there. It's 200 yards down the street from each other. So I got to spend a lot of time at Encompass and part of the program where we went down and did a private tour at New Belgium. And it was just fascinating to see and learn about the culture of both companies. And as well, I really enjoyed the downtown Fort Collins experience. In fact, I spent one day and we had an off day in between where the conference had kind of a transition day between Group 1 and Group 2. And my vice president sales and Jim Kinney, we hired a fly fishing guide.

Douglas Cone III:
That's that's the place to do it, Colorados.

Tracy Neal:
And neither one of us were fly fisherman. We had no idea what we were doing. But, you know, at the end of the day, we were about 30 to 40 trout in, you know, in separate, you know, combined we got a ton of fish. And we just had a great guide who picked us up in a pickup truck with an ice chest full of beer in the back and some deli sandwiches. And it was it was kind of interesting, because here I am in the middle of the week going fly fishing because we we pull a little carpe diem and seize the day. And I was thinking, what kind of fish and all kind of work. Right. Right. From my phone. And we get in the truck and we're about, you know, in the truck for about three minutes. And the guy turns us and he says, by the way, if you guys have any emails you might want to do in next five minutes, because we're going off the grid. There's no cell phone service up here. And I thought this is not what I planned my day to be. You know, I was gonna do e-mails and phone calls the whole time while I fished. And I'll tell you.

Douglas Cone III:
When you fly fishing. So you've got to take a break.

Tracy Neal:
It was beautiful. I was forced to. Five minutes later, the phones went dark. We put him in the glove box and didn't touch him for almost six or seven hours. It's just a beautiful day. So I encourage you go to Fort Collins next year, go to the UGM, get to see New Belgium. Great little town. I'm looking forward. It's already on my calendar next year.

Douglas Cone III:
I'll certainly put it on mine. So.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Douglas Cone III:
You go out there with her. I go with some of our folks. Do that, do that route accounting. I've been gone out there and they say it's a great time.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, yeah. And so. So is this your first NexGen?

Douglas Cone III:
It is my first. It's my first conference at all. So.

Tracy Neal:
Ever? Press conference ever? You never say anything.

Douglas Cone III:
Never get any. So this is my first beer conference and it's honor.

Tracy Neal:
You're probably like, yeah, this is this is awesome. Well, with all due respect to every conference out there, wait for 20 years from now. You've been to 600 of them.

Douglas Cone III:
My dad said he goes, you know, I enjoy. I when I first got in the business, he goes I went to every conference, everything. And I was talking to me the other night. I said that really sad. He's I'm excited for you, you know. And.

Tracy Neal:
Good.

Douglas Cone III:
He. But he said he guessed I've been. I've been to so many conference over the 35 years I've been in the business, and he goes they kind of roll into one like a.

Tracy Neal:
Little family reunions though.

Douglas Cone III:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
You know, you get here and you see people. So you've got you've got this one, you've got the the the full scale NBWA, which is usually September, October this year. It was in Las Vegas. Next year it's in Orlando. So that'll be a very fun to attend. Also in the West Palm Beach, Harry Schumacher has won in January. Beer Business Daily.

Douglas Cone III:
I'll bet my dad and I are going to that one.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, well, let's do this. Let's. I want to interview your dad on the podcast.

Douglas Cone III:
Okay

Tracy Neal:
Because I'll be there at that one.

Douglas Cone III:
We'll make that happen.

Tracy Neal:
And then let's see. Benj Steinman from Beer Business Daily has one usually in the fall. Up in New York City. That's a really good one.

Douglas Cone III:
I haven't been to that. My dad gets that. Yeah. So I'm starting to work my way into the.

Tracy Neal:
By the way. David Steinman's here. How did you meet David?

Douglas Cone III:
No, I haven't met him.

Tracy Neal:
Okay, so. So Benj Steinman is second generation for Beer Marketer's INSIGHTS is the publication. You know, you get that or you're probably get it. Yeah. And his son is David. And so he's David's third generation for Beer Marketer's INSIGHTS.

Douglas Cone III:
Wow.

Tracy Neal:
He's here at NexGen. When we go downstairs after this, I'll make sure an introduce you to him and.

Douglas Cone III:
I'd love to.

Tracy Neal:
I'm also selfishly trying to get David on the podcast so that we can tell his story.

Douglas Cone III:
Okay. Sounds good.

Tracy Neal:
So what kind of what kind of benefits or insights have you have you gained so far at your first NexGen?

Douglas Cone III:
The one of the things that I really wanted to focus on, the next gen and they had the workshops for, it was the e-commerce side of the business, because I believe that we're not there yet on the side of our distributor side. Yeah, but down the road, Amazon and these other.

Tracy Neal:
We're getting there. In other words, it's inevitable.

Douglas Cone III:
It's inevitable.

Tracy Neal:
You want to be educated because it's inevitable.

Douglas Cone III:
Right. And I think.

Tracy Neal:
Are you a technology guy at heart?

Douglas Cone III:
Not exactly. I do. I do like numbers, but with computer stuff and all that. Not very savvy when it comes to technology.

Tracy Neal:
Do you any on give me special apps that you use on your phone that they don't have to do. So they be business apps. But maybe life hacks, you know, I think it makes your day easier or increases productivity or connection.

Douglas Cone III:
I the my fit, my fitness pal. The.

Tracy Neal:
My fitness pal?

Douglas Cone III:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So did tracks.

Douglas Cone III:
Tracks I've been using that last month or so. Track my feed and all that.

Tracy Neal:
Good.

Douglas Cone III:
So try to keep a little healthier.

Tracy Neal:
Nice. There's another one out there that tracks that food too. I'm gonna stretch over here and look it up here. I'm gonna hand you your beer because Douglass's too far from his beer. He hasn't had a he hasn't had a sip yet. There's another one out there that I've been using. It's called Cronometer.

Douglas Cone III:
Cronometer.

Tracy Neal:
Cronometer is for tracking food. And the really cool thing about it is it has like I haven't found a barcode on it on food yet. It doesn't know. And so what you do is you buy a PowerBar or a box of cereal or whatever. You scan in bar code and then you have to put it in. And when you scan the barcode, like, for example, Cheerios. It knows what the calories, the protein, the carbs, all that is. And you say how much of it you had, you know. And then when you do that, you know, it assumes that, you know, that you're going to eat cereals again. So it puts it in your favorites. And that way you don't have to scan it again. Because most of us kind of eat a lot of the same foods. So check that one out. Cronometer,.

Douglas Cone III:
Cronometer, I'll have to look at that.

Tracy Neal:
What other apps or hacks do you have for you? Make it special for email or social media or calendar items.

Douglas Cone III:
I've got, you know, the Instagram and and all that for the social side. And then we had the the beer and the beer advocate. I look I look at that every once in a while because just kind of see.

Tracy Neal:
Beer advocate just to see what's going on with the brand.

Douglas Cone III:
See what's going on and what the what the word it. You know?

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Douglas Cone III:
Where it is out on the street on different, different brands. Its things.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. So you've been the reset department for about a year.

Douglas Cone III:
About a year.

Tracy Neal:
Is that your first job or your first official career job or.

Douglas Cone III:
It was my first career. First official career job. Was in the beer business. I came out of school. I was fortunate that I got I got a year out of college to kind of figure out maybe what I wanted to do, OK? And I went in to the pop local politics side looking at that. OK. And also volunteer work and see if I wanted to go the non-profit site. And I talked to my dad. We sat down. I remember to this day, I remember exactly where we were. And when we talked about it, we were in. Yeah. Tell me the details. So we're in Captiva Island.

Tracy Neal:
Captiva Island. Is this in Florida?

Douglas Cone III:
In Florida.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. Florida Keys?

Douglas Cone III:
It is on the. West coast of Florida. So, it's down towards Naples in that area.

Tracy Neal:
By the way, when you sit for every time I hear the word Florida Keys, I just get shivers because I've recently binged Bloodline on Netflix.

Douglas Cone III:
I have not. I watched one episode and I haven't gone back to yet, but I hear.

Tracy Neal:
It's freaky awesome.

Douglas Cone III:
Yeah.

Tracy Neal:
I mean, bloodlines. Good bloodline on Netflix. That's my recommended right now.

Douglas Cone III:
I have to. I have to go back in there and check it out.

Tracy Neal:
It's so good. It makes me want to not vacation in the Florida Keys. It's kind of like, wow. I mean, just the ominous eye opening, the music and the rain clouds and the lightning. It's just like, oh, I was I was actually watch it with my my brother a week or so ago and we were at his house. So he cued up, you know, Episode 7 or whatever it was. And he goes, fast forward, fast forward, fast. I go, wait, wait, wait. You can't fast forward the music on bloodline like the ominous clouds and the lightning and the ocean and the music. It sets the whole tone for every episode you get. Fast forward. That sounds good. When the boat was so go out. You were on the island,.

Douglas Cone III:
We're on the island on the west coast. And you're down there for a family vacation. And we were just after the day was over. We were by the pool. And my dad said, hey, let's go run down. You know, run down to the clubhouse and we'll get something to eat. So I said, OK, let's yeah, let's go. And he sat me down and we got talking and. He looked at me and he said, so I just wanted to ask you what you think about coming into business and. I said, you know, that I'd love to come in and give it a give it a shot. He goes, there is never a you have to join the business.

Tracy Neal:
So you kind of approach your life with open opportunities.

Douglas Cone III:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
Wanted to encourage you to do what you wanted.

Douglas Cone III:
Encourage me to do what I wanted to do. And he said, you know, I'd like you to come into the business and see how you like, enjoy it. And he goes, you don't have to. We'll give you 90 days. We'll see how you do. And if you don't like it, you can go on and do something else.

Tracy Neal:
Okay.

Douglas Cone III:
And also he goes, that's your 90 day probation period to see how.

Tracy Neal:
We may fire you?

Douglas Cone III:
See how you do throughout the, that time.

Tracy Neal:
Certainly you're in at will. You're an at will employment. That was your father here.

Douglas Cone III:
So I started and he said, we'll see how it goes. And I I remember that day I was like, all right, I'm in in the in the family business. And I started from the from the bottom, you know, just jump on a truck. Started in the repack area, a real warehouse. So started there. That's where I go about a month to, you know, that and then went into pulling carts in the warehouse. And learning all the products. And then went to this sales side, worked with them for a little while and then was on a truck working with different delivery guys and. Different porn, you know, following the orders in and doing bulk in inside letters. So on premise. Off premise. So I worked my way and that's what my dad he said, you know, when you want to not do it, you're not gonna get. I'm not going to just hands you the keys. Yeah. You've got to learn from the bottom and work your way up because you gain respect. And I agree completely with that. You gain respect from your fellow co-workers and your employees as you go out. Yeah. You know, Suzanne, you know, blood. Sweat and blood. Sweat and tears. Yeah. Through the through the process.

Tracy Neal:
Have you heard of. I think it's on Netflix. Also, there's a show called Jiro Dreams of Sushi, like J-I-R-O. Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Douglas Cone III:
I have seen it.

Tracy Neal:
You've seen it?

Douglas Cone III:
Yes.

Tracy Neal:
Okay. I think I was to say you don't want your dad to watch it because Jiro, when he trained his son, he made him stay in the swim in sushi. You know how sometimes there's a little bit of the yellow scrambled egg on a piece of sushi? Well, the way you make that is you make scrambled eggs in a big stainless steel pan and you put in the oven for a little while. Right. So Jiro, who this is, by the way, this is a three star Michelin restaurant in Japan. For our listeners that haven't seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi, it's not the most exciting Netflix documentary about a guy who owns a sushi place. But it is fascinating. And my point here was that Jiro made his son learn to make these scrambled egg portion of the sushi for 10 years before he let him make the rice. So i think you got of easy with a couple months in repack.

Douglas Cone III:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
Be glad your father is not Jiro. Right.

Douglas Cone III:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
Ten years in repack.

Douglas Cone III:
But, you know, it's been. You know, I the process has been very learning things every every day and learning from the people, our employees that we have in our team, our team members and taking knowledge from them in the department. And now we have over. Eighty five years of beer experience in the room. So I'm taking knowledge from this.

Tracy Neal:
Soak in it up.

Douglas Cone III:
And soak in it up and so.

Tracy Neal:
So what what would you say? You said you were thirty one, right?

Douglas Cone III:
Thirty.

Tracy Neal:
Thirty. Okay. So in 20 years you'll be 50.

Douglas Cone III:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
You've you hit three conferences a year. You have been to 60 of these conferences. Right. Not to mention all the supplier meetings.

Douglas Cone III:
Supplier meetings. Yep.

Tracy Neal:
So, I mean, you'll be up towards 300 different meetings. What do you want to say to your 50 year old self? Because what's cool about this is I know when I asked you to interview, you were a little bit timid because you were like, hey, I'm so new. I don't know that I have a lot to talk about. That's true. But it's also really kind of cool because you're gonna be able to listen to this when you're 50 and go, man. I remember sitting in that chair with Tracy in that hotel.

Douglas Cone III:
Right.

Tracy Neal:
And I'll tell you something that's interesting about getting older and learning things is and there's actually a name for it. But I can't run what's called. The more you learn, the more you don't. You know that you don't know everything. You think it's the opposite when you're younger. You think you think knowledge is this empty gas tank. And I'm filling up my brain and eventually I go to the top where I know everything. And that's true until you get into your 40s and then you start to realize the gas tank of knowledge is such an infinitely large thing that the more you learn, the more you realize that you only know a speck of what's actually out here. So what would you want to say to your 50 year old self as you're looking forward to the next 20 years in this business that, you know.

Douglas Cone III:
I hopefully would have grown grown the business and really kept those the core values in and work ethic of my of my dad and really push the company to we have a saying doing the right thing the right way all the time.

Tracy Neal:
Do the right thing the right way all the time, so that's company slogan, huh?

Douglas Cone III:
That's a company slogan and be, be world class. And that's we every single day we live by that. As a company and I want to keep that, we keep that going and grow from there.

Tracy Neal:
Be worldclass.

Douglas Cone III:
Keep keep those core values and push them forward. And hopefully in 50 years, I would've learned, you know, 50 years from now, 50 years old, 50 years from now, learn that. I've grown and grown the business and it still has the same core values and everything that my dad started within and grew there.

Tracy Neal:
That's great. Are there any are there any mentors or suppliers or retail customers, anyone out there who want to give a shout out to and thank for. Teaching you the ropes. Taking you under their wing, being patient with you when you've screwed something up. And when you give a shout out to.

Douglas Cone III:
So, Mark. From Gator Beverage, he's.

Tracy Neal:
Mark from Gator Beverages.

Douglas Cone III:
He's one of our retailers and he's been in the business for I don't know how long a while, years andnyears. And he when I first came in the business, he took kind of took me under his wing and said, you know, he's a from a retailer side. He's been in for a while. And he just kind of gave me the, you know, ins and outs of how you're from a retailer side. It works. And then. Another person in the business that really that I work with now, but I've worked in the past and he's one of our teammates, is Phil Warford. He's been in the business for, I believe, nice films, 40 something years. Yeah, he really he's old. He's got the old school kind of feel, but he's also changed. Knows the change. Yeah. With with time. And he's just really taught me a lot in you know, he's very patient with me too. And if I, you know, make a mistake or whatnot. Yes. But he will teach you and I've learned a lot from him on how to move from a sales side to a warehouse side. Yeah, that's.

Tracy Neal:
What does count me in on that mentor group? I know we've only known each other for 24 hours.

Douglas Cone III:
That's true.

Tracy Neal:
But I've been in this industry for a while. I've I've not necessarily been in your position around distributorship, but I've been in the industry for a while. You have my email and my phone number. Feel free to call me anytime.

Douglas Cone III:
I'll definitely reach out. Yes.

Tracy Neal:
I I I've offered that to quite a few people that I've talked to and been around the country with. You know, I just had a I had a fascinating conversation with a sales rep earlier this week. It was a gentleman that I had gotten to known as I traveled around. And he's at the sales rep level and he just text me. He's said hey a minute for some advice. And he called me and, you know, I looked at my phone after we hung up and it was 54 minutes. We talked for 54 minutes about some of the challenges and opportunities that he had as a sales rep. And I think I felt I felt really good about coaching him. You know, it was enjoyable. It was effortless for me to help him kind of see the bigger picture on some of the challenges. He was having a sales rep.

Douglas Cone III:
And I think the greatest thing is as you learn from people that have been in the business for 17 years or longer.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah.

Douglas Cone III:
And then you learn from them. But you put your own. You know, you're on the stamp on things. But you that's the things you learn in this business relationships and you learn from other people and take take what she learned and apply it yourself, but make sure that you learn from the people that come before you.

Tracy Neal:
And that's what's great about this podcast, is this is the first documentation of personalities, best practices and opinions about what it takes to sell beer. Right. So we're really working on that. We're excited to talk. So as we as we close it out, any anything else about the NBWA next gen, the beers to that hashtag or anything you want to say to Craig Purser or Kim McKinnish?

Douglas Cone III:
It's been a wonderful conference. I'll definitely be back next year. OK. And just the way that NBWA for the next generation is really focusing on that in. The things that are happening now with e-commerce, the social media side. That they're really focusing on the next generation and keeping growing the business. So.

Tracy Neal:
That's awesome.

Douglas Cone III:
From the distributor side.

Tracy Neal:
All right. I'm close out with some music. Who's your who's your favorite band? If you were a lead singer of a band, who would it be? Well, we'll get some music on this.

Douglas Cone III:
I would say favorite band would probably be in its back. But Fleetwood Mac the.

Tracy Neal:
Fleetwood Mac band. That's what makes Fleetwood Mac.

Douglas Cone III:
So my dad. He used to play when we were younger. He would play rock, different rock music and.

Tracy Neal:
Oh, was he in a band or.

Douglas Cone III:
No. He would just play.

Tracy Neal:
You mean on the radio?

Douglas Cone III:
On the radio. And he would quiz us. So we would have to leave you right in the car. He'd be like, Okay, who's this? I'm like, Dad, I'm a you know what I know? He goes, two minutes. Who's it? So we would, you know. He would quiz on it. So from the Rolling Stones to other. So the bands that people like, how would you know you're 30 years old or you're 24 at the time? Yeah. Twenty five would like Fleetwood Mac with you. How do you know that? I'm like my dad. We were younger. With quizzes on it.

Tracy Neal:
So I did. I did that with my kids too, as I go through rock. In fact, I play. I oftentimes turn on. John Denver is our morning music and Neil Diamond.

Douglas Cone III:
Niel Diamonds a good one.

Tracy Neal:
Yeah. One time my kids actually dead. How come you never play Neil Diamond in the morning? Is it Neil Diamond not morning music? That's nighttime music.

Douglas Cone III:
Nighttime music.

Tracy Neal:
John Denver, that's morning music. So if for our listeners out there, how about this, Alexa, turn on John Denver. Very good. On and John Denver.

Douglas Cone III:
Sounds good.

Tracy Neal:
How did I get there? All right. Well, Douglas, I really enjoyed talking to you. I appreciate you taking the time to come up and do this interview. I can't wait to see your career evolve and grow over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years. I look forward to seeing many more conferences. So thanks again and make it a great day. Thank you for being here.

Douglas Cone III:
Thank you very much.

Tracy Neal:
So what's the best tasting beer in America? Who cares? That's for the consumer to decide. And until they do, you will keep selling them new brands every day. As a distributors 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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