Ep 031: Harry Isabel, Industry Legend, Part 2

Harry’s beer industry stories were so great, we had to break them up into two episodes. This is part 2. Listen as Tracy and Harry talk about Harry’s 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 Harry Isabel.

Ep. 031 Transcription

Harry Isabel: [00:00:00] We tested lite beer in ’74. 


Tracy Neal: [00:00:02] The L-I-T-E? 


Harry Isabel: [00:00:03] L-I-T-E. To test this test market. And we came out fully with it in early ’75. Now, of course, I’ll tell you, that was a home run. I mean, you know, people stay awake.


Tracy Neal: [00:00:15] And I remember I was three. By the way, we talked. We we we talked. We were talking. When we took the break in between episodes here and Harry and I realized that I am at age I’m 47. You’re 94, exactly half your age. So, yeah, I remember. 


Harry Isabel: [00:00:31] Like I told you, I can’t remember when I was 47.


Tracy Neal: [00:00:34] My guest for episode number 31 is Harry Isabel. This is the second hour of a two part interview with my new friend, Mr. Isabel. During the break, Mr. Isabel made me coffee, and then he made and served his wife breakfast. He shuffled back and forth through the kitchen, taking small steps, as you would expect. At age 94, but with a spirit and a smile that reminded me of my own grandfather. Harry didn’t tell me this, but I could tell by his actions that making and serving his wife breakfast is his favorite part of each day. Check out the show notes on this podcast as I provided links to photos of Harry, his family and his career. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. iSellBeer presents to you, part two, Harry Isabel.


[00:01:34] I am not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr Lebowski, I’m the dude.


[00:01:39] Yeah, I tell you what, you can take a good look at a was asked by sticking your head up there, but wouldn’t you rather take his word for it?


[00:01:45] Film and eat all the freaking chips. Kip. 


[00:01:48] A point. Don’t be jealous that I’ve been shown online with games all day.


[00:01:52] We have a pawn in the back of a pool and a pot of tea. Good for you.


[00:01:59] 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: [00:02:20] All right, Harry, we’re back for part two of the podcast here. Thanks for the break there. And last on last episode, we kind of talked about your career up until the 70s when you joined Miller Brewing Company. So, again, to describe the story you were working for, Carling, you got invited by Lenny, what was Lenny’s last name?


Harry Isabel: [00:02:44] Goldstein. 


Tracy Neal: [00:02:45] Lenny Goldstein up to New York City.


Harry Isabel: [00:02:47] Right.


Tracy Neal: [00:02:47] You took a short flight to New York City and interviewed. You were very nervous as somebody from Carling was gonna see you.


Harry Isabel: [00:02:52] Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:02:53] And you did the paperwork a few weeks later and you got the job with Miller Brewing Company in the 70s.


Harry Isabel: [00:02:59] No, that was actually that was the late ’66.


Tracy Neal: [00:03:04] Sixty six. Okay. And I had seen a picture of you on LinkedIn from John Janosko. I think it was 1944 New York Time Square?


Harry Isabel: [00:03:15] That’s right. I just got back from the Pacific.


Tracy Neal: [00:03:20] You’ve just gotten back from the war? 


Harry Isabel: [00:03:22] Right.


Tracy Neal: [00:03:22] And you were in Times Square for New Year’s Eve? 


Harry Isabel: [00:03:24] Were in Time Square. Actually, that was 44. The war was still on.


Tracy Neal: [00:03:28] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:03:28] And my dad and some of his friends came up to New York and I came in New York. And that was a, 75 years ago.


Tracy Neal: [00:03:41] Well, it’s not often you get to meet somebody who spent New Year’s Eve.


Harry Isabel: [00:03:43] This year. So I sent that around to a few guys. It was a great picture.


Tracy Neal: [00:03:47] Year’s Eve in Times Square in 1944. I digress. But I had to mention that. So we’ll get back up to the Miller. All right. Tell me about your role with Miller Brewing Company and let’s go through that career.


Harry Isabel: [00:03:59] Ok. Very well. It was obviously very interesting. Of course, as we said, I had been with Carling and talking volume wise. Carling was a larger brewer than Miller at that time.


Tracy Neal: [00:04:14] Where did Miller rank in those days?


Harry Isabel: [00:04:14] Well, if I had to take fix, they were in the first 10, but it might have been in the bottom row.


Tracy Neal: [00:04:19] OK. Bottom half of the top 10. 


Harry Isabel: [00:04:21] But I could just kind of got a little feel. I could just kind of feel because I had some of the. 


Tracy Neal: [00:04:28] Felt the momentum? 


Harry Isabel: [00:04:29] Yes. Consumer momentum. Because at that time, Miller Brewing Co was half owned by W.R. Grace. 


Tracy Neal: [00:04:40] W.R. Grace. 


Harry Isabel: [00:04:41] Which was a shipping company. He had been a Notre-Dame guy and the other half was in a charitable trust that had been put there by the Miller company.


Tracy Neal: [00:04:51] The Miller family.


Harry Isabel: [00:04:52] Miller family. Right. And yeah. Miller family. And they were treading around. But it was more consumer that gravitated. And it wasn’t the any big programs that they had. But you you kind of had a feel, because I had some distributors at Miller and I could see the way things were going.


Tracy Neal: [00:05:17] So you were kind of like. 


Harry Isabel: [00:05:18] I wonder. 


Tracy Neal: [00:05:18] Kind of like you competitor is a Carling guy who’d go in and see that Miller momentum.


Harry Isabel: [00:05:22] That’s true.


Tracy Neal: [00:05:23] You’d feel it.


Harry Isabel: [00:05:24] I’d feel it. I did. And. 


Tracy Neal: [00:05:26] And which brands when you say Miller? I mean, this is before. Miller Lite.


Harry Isabel: [00:05:29] Oh, yeah. The only brand they had was a Miller High Life. And of course that’s getting into another thing that that we can all think about is expansion of product expansion more and this time of packaging, because when I went with Miller at that time, as I said, was ’66, ’67. In those times we had 12 ounce glass and we had cans. Cans came in double cases. There were two cases to a case and draft beer and a few quarters.


Tracy Neal: [00:06:08] What do you mean there were two cases, two case.


Harry Isabel: [00:06:10] Well they were packed doubles, you bought. 


Tracy Neal: [00:06:12] So it was truly two cases of cans packed together? 


Harry Isabel: [00:06:16] Exactly.


Tracy Neal: [00:06:17] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:06:17] Yeah, that was the thing a little bit. I think Anheuser-Busch even had that going for a while.


Tracy Neal: [00:06:22] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:06:23] And Schlitz the way back had that going too, a double case. I don’t know why, but then we kind of broke off of that. But again and in those earlier years I could feel it. And then they had some momentum going. And then as I said, I went with them and I had half of West Virginia and half of Pennsylvania. And that’s really amazing when you look back, because I had mentioned West Virginia a minute. As I said earlier, I was born in Wailing, so I used to hold meetings with these guys. Now you get up and say, hey, let’s kick some butt here. I said, don’t forget I’m one of you. The fact that you my my birthright, if you will, with those guys. But even though the momentum was there somewhat, we were still like to put it this way. But the truth, well, we were kind of a tailgate item.


Tracy Neal: [00:07:23] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:07:24] I mean, they had Pabst was big in West Virginia. Stroh was real big in West Virginia from Detroit. Iron City in the northern part from Pittsburgh. Carling still had some life. West Virginia was pretty much always a local price, not premium state because of the economy and because they were all coal miners. West Virginia was a coal state all the way, and it was different. I mean, they had the they had I’ll get into this. The bars. And there wasn’t much sophistication, let’s say. And there was no over the bar drinking liquor was which was favorable to beer. But at any time you check into a motel for a night, they’d give you the ticket to their club. Well, the Holiday Inn had a club. So when you became you became a resident for the night. You were a member of the club so the club could sell you a drink. Kind of a funny way to do it, but that’s the way it was done in those days. But as I said, the distributors that I had always had another brand, of course, like in the north, they had our own city, which was a big number, and then some Pabst and then fall city from Kentucky. Was it? There were so many brands.


Tracy Neal: [00:08:51] Yeah.


Harry Isabel: [00:08:51] You know, and so with the movement, we had some movement. So I set up a deal where and this is amazing at about six distributors that couldn’t buy a full load of beer because it’d last too long. So what we did was I set up a guy in Clarksburg, which was a pretty big market. He’d get the cars in. And these guys would get on as they needed it and buy a truckload from him. And we paid him a quarter of case to do that. OK, see. So at least we got the fresh beer into those guys. But coincidentally, later on, those guys became big guys. And I know some of em sold their businesses for plenty of money because and I drive up through the state of West Virginia on the way to Pittsburgh and stop here and there. And I know this one town. I went up on new way and I’d stop and I couldn’t find any Miller. Well, the guy from Parkersburg had the area. And so I went to him. I said, hey, I’d go up there and there’s no beer. And the guy says, I can’t afford to send the truck up there. I said, Well, I’ll find someone. Well. So I called on a guy that had a I think he had our city and talk to him. And he said, no, I can’t fool with that. So he didn’t know. I went to another guy with Carling. But by that time, Carling was kind of moving on and he was a happy guy. And he says, I’ll take it. Well, later years he sold that business for a ton of money because of Miller, because Carling kind of died off. And Miller gained. But that was the way that the. I know I had one of those guys tell me, hey, I want to keep you for the Christmas present because W. R. Grace sent them a nice little Christmas present. 


Tracy Neal: [00:10:40] Distributor told you I only keep you for the Christmas present. 


Harry Isabel: [00:10:42] Right. Yeah. But anyway, and I had Wheeling, as I mentioned, Wheeling. It was this is a good story too, because I was born in Wheeling, as I said, Wheeling. The distributor had been owned by a gentleman and he passed away and he left the business to his employees. So these guys were all union guys, but they were owners. But they had one guy that he left more to was the manager. And just so happened that this guy was a manager, a very nice guy, going along with a very well, was born in the same hospital as I was just about the same time.


Tracy Neal: [00:11:21] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:11:21] So I used to call him my brother. I mean, to get a little closer to him because I needed him because he sold Iron City, which was big. And in those days, our job, one of our jobs is the Miller, a man who does go to every distributed right there. Orders for the next month at the distributorship. Yes. That’s the way we did it. That’s the way they wanted to do it. So we did it. So I’d sit in there and I’d go over the orders. I mean, it really wasn’t a big order because it maybe bought a carload a month, you know, but I’d figure out how many points you need, how many cards. Not that they couldn’t do it themselves, but Miller wanted to do it that way. So we did it that way.


Tracy Neal: [00:12:02] Incentive to kind of goose those numbers up a little bit.


Harry Isabel: [00:12:05] Well, it’s pretty hard to do is pretty much based on what their sales had been and what their needs would be. And so whatever came out with is what it was. It was what we had to do. So. And I’d sit there.


Tracy Neal: [00:12:18] It’s not hard to do today, asked distributors. They get extra rail cars who pallets all their trucks all the time. And in order. I know they’re not happy about it.


Harry Isabel: [00:12:29] Listen, guys, I feel sorry for in a way or the poor guys that are delivering because I pop in the grocery stores and I talk to these guys, you know, I say as it go on, at some point you guys got a job because all of the brands and packaging it drive you crazy. But anyway, get back to West Virginia. So I’ll be in there. I’d be in the next office doing whatever I had to do and the guy would be in the other office. And every time the phone would ring or he’d call for orders from the trade. Yeah. The stores. And he’d say on city in the language of the ad on city, the name of the company was McCann distributing. But they aren’t. City was the big brand because it was Pittsburgh. Miller again was not too much our own city. So I said to my good friend Larry Brining and I say, hey, you have to say Iron city. Can’t you say McCann? I mean, you know, you have Miller, too. Oh, Harry, is this easier? We’ve been doing it so long. Well, anyway, it kind of broke off because later on they did say McCann. But I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit because I was in that office one day and he’s in another office with and follow in his mind a new truck. OK, so listen, I had a listen because he was the next office. So their meeting was over. Larry, come on and say Larry, I won’t talk to him. He says, yeah. What’s up? I said, look, I said, you’re buying a new truck. He says, yeah. And I said, you know, I think we deserve a truck, Larry. I said, you’ve got all these Iron city trucks all over town. You’ve got no Miller trucks. You’re selling this Miller beer. What is it? He said, oh, you want a truck? You got a truck. So I got the truck.


Tracy Neal: [00:14:20] You got a truck with Miller on it?


Harry Isabel: [00:14:21] Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:14:22] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:14:22] I mean, that’s just the way it was. We weren’t. 


Tracy Neal: [00:14:24] Anyone else really done that before in your region for Miller and the first Miller truck.


Harry Isabel: [00:14:29] I I I don’t know. But pretty soon we started to get trucks because our business picked up.


Tracy Neal: [00:14:37] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:14:37] That was my entry into the into the truck from Larry. You know, there was was an early day, of course, is with the company, not only for me, but for the the increasing activities of Miller. And then course, by the time I’m talking about now, Philip Morris stepped in. Say, OK,. 


Tracy Neal: [00:15:01] What year was that Philip Morris bought Miller? 


Harry Isabel: [00:15:05] Well. You know, it’s I would I would take a guess, probably about 70, 69, 70 somewhere in there. They had George Weissman, who was the president of Philip Morris. Actually, I. I think he once tried to buy Carling first.


Tracy Neal: [00:15:26] OK.


Harry Isabel: [00:15:26] And there. Couldn’t do otherwise. The guy, E. P. Taylor, who was a very wealthy guy, had a horse. Wouldn’t the Kentucky Derby native dancer years ago that really. 


Tracy Neal: [00:15:36] Native dancer was a horse, huh?


Harry Isabel: [00:15:38] And that was owned by this gentleman. E. P. Taylor,. 


Tracy Neal: [00:15:42] Who was the president of Carling? 


Harry Isabel: [00:15:43] He owned Carling. I guess it was a stock company, but he was the man.


Tracy Neal: [00:15:47] OK.


Harry Isabel: [00:15:48] And they were Canadian. And then a brewery I worked under was in Cleveland. But they built breweries in Massachusetts. They were going. They built a brewery that Miller done in Fort Worth. That initially was a Carling brewery built by them.


Tracy Neal: [00:16:06] OK. Before Miller Brewery. 


Harry Isabel: [00:16:07] Miller bought it later years. Yeah. OK. Philip Morris came in and and and then, of course, things changed dramatically because they really had been a consumer, you know, moral bar or the moral where a man and know. And then they brought John Murphy in and. 


Tracy Neal: [00:16:25] Who is John Murphy?


Harry Isabel: [00:16:25] John Murphy was. Had been a Philip Morris. He was an attorney. And he had been in with the law firm, as I understand this game in New York. And George Weissman liked him because John Murphy was action. So John Murphy was head up Philip Morris international sales at his office in Switzerland. I think it was. And international sales. So all of a sudden, John Murphy is the new president of Miller. And he brought with him some very good people from Philip Morris. And then they started it. And the first thing was, if you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer. That was the theme.


Tracy Neal: [00:17:12] You’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.


Harry Isabel: [00:17:14] Exactly. That was the theme. And it was that they had a Jean Barrios or spokesman. He had was a Hollywood guy. And with the voice overs and a very good voice.


Tracy Neal: [00:17:24] Philip Morris brought real. 


Harry Isabel: [00:17:26] They do. Oh, yeah, no doubt about it. 


Tracy Neal: [00:17:30] Too the beer did not just Miller, but with it kind of the first one to do it for the beer industry. Or was Anheuser-Busch already doing some of this?


Harry Isabel: [00:17:37] Well, I I. And Anheuser-Busch was doing what they had to do. But I think when when John Murphy and Miller stepped in, they stepped that. 


Tracy Neal: [00:17:46] Kind of commercialize.


Harry Isabel: [00:17:47] Oh, yeah. They put the foot on the pedal. 


Tracy Neal: [00:17:49] And they had the  money. I’ll give you plenty money. Any money? Yeah. And we’ll get into that. But but then they had the agency, their backers, Bill. Well these guys have been with McCann-Erickson, which was a big agency and had been a big agencies’ for Philip Morris. Well, these two guys had been with him and they stepped off and John Murphy took a shot like them, like their work. And they had the Miller account. It really made that company. Bakkers Bill. Very good. And in fact, Billy Bakkers the guy that wrote the music for that. If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer. It was very catchy. 


Tracy Neal: [00:18:27] Yeah. It was very catchy.


Harry Isabel: [00:18:29] And so the things things were moving along. And John Murphy was action, as I said.


Tracy Neal: [00:18:39] He was action, huh? 


Harry Isabel: [00:18:39] Yeah. I wasn’t at the meeting. This was a meeting when things were a little tough at the beginning. And he said they were sitting at this meeting and some of the ad, the agency guys were sitting down there under her talking about one. Movies that would go and God. Did you see this show? You know, you can see it. You’re around the dinner table. You’re talking business. And some guy says, yeah, I saw that show. And Leonard says, John Murphy went like this on a date with his fist. What the hell are you guys talking about? We’re going down to work trying to get something together. You guys are talking about movies. You know, the last movie I saw, Shane, that was John Murphy. I mean, he was he was good. John was good. And then, of course, we started to move and then. No. I think the first really the first thing that brought us on the scene was we came up with a little pointy bottle, eight ounce bottle. 


Tracy Neal: [00:19:45] Eight ounce pointy bottle.


Harry Isabel: [00:19:46] Eight ounce pointy bottle, a little nice little cute little bottle. We put it in eight pack. We priced it with the leader of whatever it was like. We’ll use one in my Meyer. Pabst was going pretty good. We priced at the same as a six pack or perhaps an eight pack of Miller pointies, you know. And man, they went for that one. They really did and that to all, incidentally, before this time. Then Leonard moved me to New York. OK. I went from from having a Pennsylvanian, you know, which was kind of a one truck order, one car order, not big time orders. So then I went to New York and I was the area manager for Greater New York. You know,. 


Tracy Neal: [00:20:38] Moved your family up there? 


Harry Isabel: [00:20:39] And by the. No. Well, to Jersey.


Tracy Neal: [00:20:41] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:20:41] Yes. Yes. Yes. Right. Right. But let me let me go back just a touch, because it was a different environment for me. Here’s a guy from Uniontown, Pennsylvania. All of a sudden he’s in New York. You know, a little bit different down the skies, talking about retail work. And what what you did. Well, when I went up to one of my jobs was calling on the chains on, you know what? I knew what a chain was, but we didn’t sell beer and chains, you know. So the first call I made, I think I was in New York is the area manager about three days. And then they had a promotion on something, probably Miller Glass. I’m sure it was. And I’ll never forget it. My first call was in the Bronx line and it went to the Bronx was. So they say, why go up this street and take that bridge and bump in the company with Bohack? I’ll never forget these things.


Tracy Neal: [00:21:41] Bohack is that the retailer? 


Harry Isabel: [00:21:42] It was a it was a big chain grocer chain. So. My call was on the buyer to talk to them about the promotion. OK. So I go in and that’s a lady, I forget her name now I should know because I can see her face. The lady didn’t even look at me. She’s sitting at the desk doing something. She said, Who are you? I’m kind of in shock. And Harry is Miller Brewing Company. What do you want? I didn’t look at me.


Tracy Neal: [00:22:17] Didn’t look at you.


Harry Isabel: [00:22:17] Didn’t look at me. She said, What do you want? I said, Well, ma’am, I’m here to talk about our promotion. Well, what’s ANP charging? I said, I don’t know, ma’am. You’re my first call. I haven’t been to a.. Get out of here. Don’t you ever come back until you can tell me the ANP price. They were the leader. 


Tracy Neal: [00:22:38] Okay. He was the competitive chain. 


Harry Isabel: [00:22:41] Right.


Tracy Neal: [00:22:41] Yeah. 


Harry Isabel: [00:22:42] That was my entry. If you’re a bit of course. 


Tracy Neal: [00:22:47] Do you remember how many outlets Bohack had? One, two, 10, 20?


Harry Isabel: [00:22:50] I don’t know. But they were big. They were big and in the buroughs. Yeah. Well I was bigger.


Tracy Neal: [00:22:57] Maybe more than 20 or less than 20.


Harry Isabel: [00:22:59] Well I imagine more than 20.


Tracy Neal: [00:23:00] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:23:01] Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:23:01] So pretty big chain back then.


Harry Isabel: [00:23:02] Pretty big chain. Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:23:03] In the 70s. 


Harry Isabel: [00:23:03] And ANP of course was big. They had their office in North Jersey. I called on them. You walk in the ANP and it does look like you were on a football field with desks at the desk after desk after desk. One was the beer bar, one was the apple bar, one was the grapefruit bar or whatever it was, whatever it was.


Tracy Neal: [00:23:22] This is the evolution of grocery stores here and grocery store. Centralized management.


Harry Isabel: [00:23:28] Right. Exactly.


Tracy Neal: [00:23:29] OK. 


Harry Isabel: [00:23:29] But of course in New York had an awful lot of chains and. 


Tracy Neal: [00:23:33] The New York and the bungalows on outside bodegas.


Harry Isabel: [00:23:37] Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. And that is where I was going to before that. I talked about the seven ounce.


Tracy Neal: [00:23:43] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:23:45] The seven ounce was a big hit with the bodegas. They loved. 


Tracy Neal: [00:23:48] The seven ounce bottle. 


Harry Isabel: [00:23:50] Put them in their pocket or whatever they did, you know. And as I said, I was the area manager in those days. And as I previously said, we used to write the order as well. I went up to New York and I’m in the distributors. And it was mind boggling because all of a sudden a full car, of course, I saw for course. 


Tracy Neal: [00:24:14] A whole full car.


Harry Isabel: [00:24:15] Yeah. And I’m figuring he orders out and the guys give me two cars. So I said, wait a minute, I think get me two cars. Okay. So that’s the way that went. So better brands of New York was our big distributor. They had cheese. And I think they had the Bronx and Manhattan, Westchester County. They had the big air. And they were saying they were very big. In fact, you know, the guy’s name was Scobey Frank Scobey. He had Chicago and New York.


Tracy Neal: [00:24:49] Frank Scobey


Harry Isabel: [00:24:49] For Miller. Yeah. He was the man. He he was basically bigger than the Miller Brewing Company.


Tracy Neal: [00:24:57] Chicago and New York had some money. Yeah, he’s signaling the money with it with his hands to be.


Harry Isabel: [00:25:03] Right. Right. And anyway. 


Tracy Neal: [00:25:06] I’m sure he knew some people.


Harry Isabel: [00:25:07] Oh yeah. He he knew the people. Yeah. But actually we bought him out. John Murphy.  Yeah. Because they were lucrative markets, big markets. And I don’t know what the deal was but they bought him. But anyway we came out. 


Tracy Neal: [00:25:24] With Miller Brewing Company bottom out.


Harry Isabel: [00:25:26] Yes.


Tracy Neal: [00:25:26] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:25:28] And then. 


Tracy Neal: [00:25:31] So at one point time, Miller Brewing Company owned their own distributor in New York.


Harry Isabel: [00:25:34] Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And then. But then they they sold it off after. I don’t know how many years in between. But then they did sell off. But anyway, we come out with the seven ounce and know so well. And there was a guy named Abe Trackman who was the treasurer and the financial guy had better brands, which was the big distributor. And in those days they were one of my distributors and we were trying to figure out how much seven ounces knew when he says, oh, I don’t know. He said this put us down for a car every three days. I said, okay, you know. 


Tracy Neal: [00:26:16] Car, you mean, a railcar?


Harry Isabel: [00:26:17] Yeah. railcar.


Tracy Neal: [00:26:19] Railcar. 


Harry Isabel: [00:26:19] Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:26:19] One car every three days.


Harry Isabel: [00:26:20] He says make it. I said OK. Well we’ve got the first car in and I don’t think it took but a few days I got a call from a drag.


Tracy Neal: [00:26:30] Do you remember how many cases fit in a railcar?


Harry Isabel: [00:26:36] Boy. I think it was about 4000 cans, about twenty five hunrder glass. I would take a shot at twenty five hundred some. 


Tracy Neal: [00:26:49] Twenty five hundred cases? 


Harry Isabel: [00:26:50] Yeah, something like that. Anyway, very quickly called he said Harry, I think we better change your order plan. I says well, well okay. What do you want to do is as well. He says we got that package and he said it instead of car every three days. Let’s make it three cars a day, three cars a day. I see you’re on.


Tracy Neal: [00:27:12] By the way what was was your compensation? You know, did you get a salary and did you get bonuses or things or did this impact your take home pay?


Harry Isabel: [00:27:22] Yes.


Tracy Neal: [00:27:23] OK.


Harry Isabel: [00:27:25] But it was all in a quota. So you you could hit the quota and. But it was.


Tracy Neal: [00:27:32] So you hit your quota much faster than you thought, right?


Harry Isabel: [00:27:35] Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:27:36] And then after that you make some bonuses for selling.


Harry Isabel: [00:27:38] Yes. That’s an interesting question because. Yes, they did. They had a system then where they had quarterly quotas. OK. And that was a very important thing because, you know, the the beginning wasn’t a hell of a lot of money. You know, if you made the bonus, you were you are comfortable. OK, So if you missed the first quarter and made the sack and then made the third, missed the fourth, if by everything compensated that you at least made the number you made the year, you could pick it up. You know what I mean?


Tracy Neal: [00:28:16] You could miss a quarter, but make a year.


Harry Isabel: [00:28:17] Yeah. Right. That’s the way it was done way in those days. Yeah. But that was a big thing and. And then that that package carried on greatly because I was in New York a few years. Three years really looking. 


Tracy Neal: [00:28:33] Okay, three years.


Harry Isabel: [00:28:33] And then they opened up a regional office in Virginia, a new office. And I took over that office. They gave me that. It was interesting because I went to find a location, hired some people to set my own little little game plan.


Tracy Neal: [00:28:51] And you told me there’s a little bit of a Reyes story in here.


Harry Isabel: [00:28:54] Definitely.


Tracy Neal: [00:28:55] You are very up to speed on today’s environment. You’re very aware of who the Reyes are and the fact that all the. 


Harry Isabel: [00:29:01] These days that was as I said, I went to Virginia in 1974. 


Tracy Neal: [00:29:10] 1974 in Virginia, okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:29:15] We came up with like we tested light beer in 74. 


Tracy Neal: [00:29:18] The L-I-T-E. 


Harry Isabel: [00:29:20] L-I-T-E. Test this test market, you know. And we came out fully with it in early seventy five. Now, of course, I’ll tell you, that was a homerun. I mean, you know, people stay awake.


Tracy Neal: [00:29:32] And I remember I was three. By the way, we talked. We we talked. We were talking when we took the break in between episodes here and Harry. And I realized that I am an age. I’m 47. You’re 94 in exactly half your age. So, yeah, I remember. 


Harry Isabel: [00:29:48] Like I told you, I can’t remember when I was 47 though. But anyway we. Yes. We we came out with lite beer and it was gonna be a home run  overnight. It was. It was big time.


Tracy Neal: [00:30:02] Was it still if you’ve got the time we’ve got the beers that went.


Harry Isabel: [00:30:05] No, no, no. That was the day that was that was still the Miller High Life campaign. But when we came out with Lite we didn’t they didn’t want. That when I say this. They didn’t want a connection between Miller and Lite.


Tracy Neal: [00:30:24] They want to cannibalize the Miller High Life. 


Harry Isabel: [00:30:26] Exactly. Because Miller High Life was still going pretty good. Now that you’re old, they thought Miller Lite would take it away. So what they come up, they wanted to say light beer from Miller. Well those a lot of words for a consumer? That’s good about it. The idea was there, but the practicality wasn’t really there. But we had a course at that time when we came out with Lite. It caught on so much. And Miller High Life, incidentally, was no sleeping dog then Miller High Life was going pretty good. And that’s when, again, John Murphy and the crew really did the job, because we started to build the breweries. We build a brewery in Fulton, New York, which is north of Syracuse, which is no longer a brewery. Build a one in Eden, North Carolina. And Jordan Murphy brought one of his his that he brought his engineer and they call him the mad rush. And you’re a traveler who didn’t, man.


Tracy Neal: [00:31:27] We made the mad rush in. What is the name?


Harry Isabel: [00:31:29] Yuri Turala. 


Tracy Neal: [00:31:30] Yuri Turala.


Harry Isabel: [00:31:31] He was he was the genius of the engineering. I mean, he didn’t take no for an answer from anyone. I mean, if he said they’d go whole, you better start digging. And that’s what they did. They built those breweries in no time. They built those breweries. And we really needed them because at that time. Something happened that may be salesman. a dream of it’s good and it’s bad, but we’re selling tons of beer and we have distributors that crying for the beer, but we don’t have the beer because you can’t meet demand, right? Because light came on and it was eaten off the. And Miller High life was still strong. Yeah, we didn’t have the production facilities. So what we did, we ration beer to our distributors, which, believe me, is a tough job.


Tracy Neal: [00:32:26] I’ve heard of this because having grown up in California and being in the business, knowing Miller Lite has never been a really, really strong brand in the West Coast. Yeah. I’ve been told by some older distributors was because it never really got the proper launch out there.


Harry Isabel: [00:32:41] They brought that brwery in Irwindale, but it was a little later on too, I think.


Tracy Neal: [00:32:45] Yeah. It was later after it.


Harry Isabel: [00:32:46] But then we we we were selling so much beer that no matter where we had that production, we had that Fort Worth brewery, too, that we didn’t have enough.


Tracy Neal: [00:32:56] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:32:56] So what we had to do was rash. And truthfully, that was a tough job. I mean, I’d go to that office in the early hours. I developed a formula that because I had to tell my distributors how much beer they could have.


Tracy Neal: [00:33:10] You developed a formula by hand on paper. Right.


Harry Isabel: [00:33:14] Right. I did. 


Tracy Neal: [00:33:15] No spreadsheets.


Harry Isabel: [00:33:16] That’s right. Exactly. Like Dorothys medication, but we had a guy never forget his name, Joe Hickey, a little guy from Milwaukee. He was in that department and he’d call like on Monday and he’d say, OK, Harry, you’re gonna get ten cars to this. And so many cars. This so many cars package wise, you know? Yeah. And then I had to split it up with my distributors, sent orders em. But they were you know, you said in the men because I couldn’t Phelim, because the distributors would write down the big Broadway numbers, but they had no change. So then I’d take his numbers and then I’d doled out where it should go. You know, I can’t play any favorites. I. I mean, it was just me. And, you know, I just. That’s where I did it. And I had to do it because this guy, Joe Hickey, call me and maybe the person next week or Friday. You’ve gone over your you took three more cars than you should’ve been, more cars than we’re sending you. He was right.


Tracy Neal: [00:34:22] He was right.


Harry Isabel: [00:34:24] So I said, Joe must have made a mistake, Joe. I guess we have a here. And he said you’re you’re messing this up. Harry said, no, you’ve got to do this or I’m gonna go to Leonard. I said, Joe, if you go to Leonard, I’ll call a West Virginia mob and I’ll break your knees. Don’t don’t do it anyway. I did it. And it was so many funny things. Come on. I had a distributor over in Eastern Shore, Maryland, but he was in Virginia. He was done. He called him Blue, because he was a fisherman who fished for blue fish. So he called me. And in the lingo that those guys talk, I’ll try to do it. He said a hairy this is blue. I said, Hey, blue, what’s going on? He said, unions and me, no beer this week. I says, Hey, Blue. I couldn’t because he drove by truck and I had to piece it off. And every other week I’d send him a load. You know, that’s where I said a blue. I don’t have the beer for it. I’m going to send you a load next week. He said, Oh, Harry. He said, you know, us distributors talk and we knew. No, you’re doing the best you can. So if you don’t send me no beer, I’ll just have to go fishin. Meanwhile, I had other distributors cussing me. I know you’re given that beard, you know? Yeah. You know.


Tracy Neal: [00:35:53] Yep. Absolutely. Still doing that thing.


Harry Isabel: [00:35:54] Is that something you’d like to do, which you don’t like to do? You’d like to be in the position to be someone that much, but you’d sure like to be in a position to have it. But when we come out with lite beer, as I said, it was a hit, but we priced lite beer, incidentally, a dime a six pack over High Life over Budweiser overall.


Tracy Neal: [00:36:18] A dime of six pack higher than Bud and High Life, Pabst.


Harry Isabel: [00:36:24] Right.


Tracy Neal: [00:36:24] OK, so premium price and it sold like crazy.


Harry Isabel: [00:36:27] It sold like crazy.


Tracy Neal: [00:36:28] That’s great.


Harry Isabel: [00:36:29] But. Than the other guys got on the train, you know, and they came up.


Tracy Neal: [00:36:33] They all left their pricing. 


Harry Isabel: [00:36:34] They came out with their beer and in fact. 


Tracy Neal: [00:36:37] Bud Light and Coors Light. 


Harry Isabel: [00:36:38] I knew the Schlitz guy and I knew the Bud guy. You know, there were my counterparts in Northern Virginia. They had an office. They had an office and the Schlitz guy called me one day. Hey there. I work on my light beer. I says, oh, yeah. I said, what are you going to call it? He said, Schlitz Light. I said, you, you what are you talking about? That’s our name. Well, they spell it L-I-G-H-T. And you didn’t have any. You know, they did what they want to do. Well, of course, Budweiser came out with Bud Light. We know what happened there. But they reduced the price. Were they had love they had that dime over the years.


Tracy Neal: [00:37:11] Oh, yeah. They couldn’t sell it at the premium. They took a dime less.


Harry Isabel: [00:37:16] Well, no. Yeah, we up the dime. So we had a drop back a dime.


Tracy Neal: [00:37:21] Do you recall the. I’ve heard different stories about the legal battles between Coors Light and Miller Lite with the spelling and the trademark. Do you recall any of those details?


Harry Isabel: [00:37:32] I don’t really know. But I do know what you’re talking about. But I don’t know even if that came were due. Was it with Coors or was it with Anheuser-Busch?


Tracy Neal: [00:37:39] I had heard with Coors, but, you know. 


Harry Isabel: [00:37:40] I would think I wouldn’t think it could have been. But but I think and Anheuser-Busch and Schlitz come out with their light before Coors even came out with their light. I think I don’t know.


Tracy Neal: [00:37:53] What I had heard is agreement with that, but I had heard that somehow Coors years before had Coors Light in an R&D environment and had somehow tried to. 


Harry Isabel: [00:38:04] That’s possible.


Tracy Neal: [00:38:05] I’m sure there’s people listening that know the detail. You can email me or I or maybe I’ll go talk to Pete Coors himself and get it straight from the horse’s mouth.


Harry Isabel: [00:38:14] Yeah. Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:38:16] Let’s go back to the Reyes story. He had told me that there was a situation where you were involved with the Reyes. 


Harry Isabel: [00:38:21] Okay.


Tracy Neal: [00:38:22] Of today. Back in. Was it in Virginia?


Harry Isabel: [00:38:25] Yes, I was in Virginia. And this was again, we come out with light, as I said, in ’75. And of course, you know, the campaign was remarkable because we had the light eyes, all stars. And I mean, they were really a hit because football was the thing.


Tracy Neal: [00:38:42] The light all stars were who the football players? 


Harry Isabel: [00:38:45] With Deacon Jones and football. We had Bubba Smith and football. Ray Nitschke who had been a packer and we had Dick Butkus. 


Tracy Neal: [00:38:53] Dick Butkus.


Harry Isabel: [00:38:53] And we had we love the basketball players and the. And I got to know quite a few of them because we used them.


Tracy Neal: [00:39:01] So Miller went all in on on sports celebrities.


Harry Isabel: [00:39:05] Yeah. 


Tracy Neal: [00:39:05] As one of the first.


Harry Isabel: [00:39:06] That was their idea. Tastes great, less filling. And these guys were athletes and drink and light beer and they say, I like it because it’s less filling and it tastes great. That was the argument between, you know, taste great, less filling. You know, I mean, even those buying can begin. I mean, it was it was big. It was. It would really fall into the bar. It was big. No, I mean, in football stadiums that kids in one year, they taste great. The other ones, the stadiums or anything do with the beer business. But that does became a theme with people, you know, take great less filling. I know we were there. I’ll never forget Halloween. I got a lot of calls from consumers. They want to know if I could get them a picture of the. We had Mickey Splain and he had this girl he called the babe was his girlfriend and they were in ours and they wanted to dress like them for Halloween. It was it was a great theme. And every. 


Tracy Neal: [00:40:04] It’s not a bad thing when there’s a whole stadium of people yelling your product.


Harry Isabel: [00:40:07] Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:40:08] Right. And multiple stadiums across the country and in bars. I mean it’s just such a.


Harry Isabel: [00:40:11] Yeah, it was it was a big hit. It was. 


Tracy Neal: [00:40:14] A real coming of age for television and advertising, too. Right.


Harry Isabel: [00:40:17] True. That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And backers below pick the right guys. I mean they had the you know, they they had a card ray of real athletes who were. But the only thing about it is unfortunately that you got to touch stale because pretty soon the real beer drinkers, who the hell is Deacon Jones, you know.


Tracy Neal: [00:40:42] So after a while. 


Harry Isabel: [00:40:43] After a while these.


Tracy Neal: [00:40:45] Yeah.


Harry Isabel: [00:40:45] And then you couldn’t have an active athlete because that was illegal. You have to have someone who is retired. So that kind of drifted off. But while it was there, was it. Well it it put light beer on in business basically. But at that time I did. I had different people call me. They everyone wanted to be a Miller district or not everyone. But a lot of people.


Tracy Neal: [00:41:11] There was high demand to be in the industry.


Harry Isabel: [00:41:12] Yeah, it was. And I got a call one day from this gentleman and he was a very nice guy. And he came over and we ties and I want to be a distributor. I want Washington D.C. Well, we had a we had a good distributor in D.C.


Tracy Neal: [00:41:28] You remember the distributor was? 


Harry Isabel: [00:41:29] Yeah. Oh yeah. I know very well. Was the two brothers, John and Bill Gibson. In fact, that’s another story. John Gibson was our distributor, but he was one of the first to ever have a McDonald’s. He met Ray Kroc somewhere like Ray Kroc, and he had the district of DC and Virginia for McDonald’s.


Tracy Neal: [00:41:55] Wow.


Harry Isabel: [00:41:55] He started with one. He parlayed it two to four to six to eight to seek whatever, whatever, whatever. And finally got so big that Ray Kroc came to him and says, John, we want the district. And he bought it and he bought it for lending money.


Tracy Neal: [00:42:11] Okay. 


Harry Isabel: [00:42:12] John Gibson. He was.


Tracy Neal: [00:42:13] John Gibson.


Harry Isabel: [00:42:14] John Gibson. I had the regional office there and he used to call me is you need he’d say as he said, I’ve got an idea. Says, What is it and what is it?


Tracy Neal: [00:42:23] I’m in, tell me what does that mean?


Harry Isabel: [00:42:25] Well, he had a little media thing going and he wanted to buy this and that and I’d put it on our brand. But our brand management group knows this was like one guy


Tracy Neal: [00:42:34] The brand team was one guy?


Harry Isabel: [00:42:36] It was early. Early on. Yeah. And they had the district in Northern Virginia.


Tracy Neal: [00:42:42] So anyway, this gentleman calls you. He wants to buy this. He wants to buy D.C.


Harry Isabel: [00:42:45] Yeah, well, he want D.C. and I said, well, it’s not quite that easy. I said it. No one would. I just can’t give distributorships out there territories and they’re taken. And it’s the only way you can ever do it is to buy someone, not. 


Tracy Neal: [00:43:03] Go buy somebody out there. 


Harry Isabel: [00:43:04] Who’s for sale. I said I don’t know anyone. Our guys didn’t want to sell. 


Tracy Neal: [00:43:09] Because Miller Lite was doing so well.


Harry Isabel: [00:43:11] Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:43:11] And Miller High Life still.


Harry Isabel: [00:43:13] So our guys or our guys, the you know, not done well for years and all of a sudden they were doing very well. Okay. And so anyway, his name was Joe Reyes.


Tracy Neal: [00:43:27] Joe Reyes. Okay. 


Harry Isabel: [00:43:28] Joe Reyes. I know. Really a nice guy. Liked him and got along very well with him.


Tracy Neal: [00:43:34] Do you remember where the Reyes family was? Was from at that point? Were they in Virginia?


Harry Isabel: [00:43:37] They was in D.C. And I I really don’t know. He was an entrepreneurial.


Tracy Neal: [00:43:42] Was he involved in McDonald’s at all back then?


Harry Isabel: [00:43:44] No.


Tracy Neal: [00:43:44] I mean I know that his family’s big in the McDonald’s network.


Harry Isabel: [00:43:47] No, I really don’t know. He. I don’t know what Joe was in.


Tracy Neal: [00:43:53] Interesting to find. I’m sure I can ask a couple. Yeah. If there’s a tie there between Joe Gibson and his McDonald’s and Reyes and their current day McDonald’s, whether there was a.


Harry Isabel: [00:44:06] I don’t think so. That we know that so much after that. But you’re right, they do have a lot of activity with McDonald’s biggest purveyor, I think of McDonald’s.


Tracy Neal: [00:44:15] Yeah.


Harry Isabel: [00:44:16] But I don’t think that had anything to do with it.


Tracy Neal: [00:44:18] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:44:19] And I’m sure it didn’t. But I. Course, I met two of the boys there. And very nice family.


Tracy Neal: [00:44:25] So Joe calls you and tells you and you tell him you’ve got to go buy a distributor.


Harry Isabel: [00:44:29] Yeah.He was in he came up to see me in my office in Northern Virginia. Yeah. And it’s like you did what he did, though. He did buy a distributorship, but it was a Schlitz distributorship in South Carolina.


Tracy Neal: [00:44:44] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:44:46] I think. 


Tracy Neal: [00:44:46] There was only one he could find available was Schlitz in South Carolina.


Harry Isabel: [00:44:48] I suppose so. Yeah. Because that was I think their entry into the beer business.


Tracy Neal: [00:44:53] I think that was ’77. ’78. ’79 somewhere around there.


Harry Isabel: [00:44:57] Yeah. It might have been a touch earlier than that though.


Tracy Neal: [00:44:59] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:45:00] I yeah. ’75. ’76. Yeah. Right in there. I would think that they went down and one of the boys I don’t know ran and I think Duke maybe or Jude Jude Chris then the nice guys of course. And then their first entry with us was in Chicago.


Tracy Neal: [00:45:19] One of the boys. Because all 


Harry Isabel: [00:45:21] One of Joe’s boys. Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:45:22] Much older now.


Harry Isabel: [00:45:23] Yeah. Right. Yeah. Older. And I thought. 


Tracy Neal: [00:45:26] I see him at the conferences that time I would never refer to him as one of the boys. Right. But, you there. The boys of Joe. Right. Right. And they’ve obviously done quite well for themselves.


Tracy Neal: [00:45:37] Oh. They’ve expanded that. That’s right. Business in multiple states now.


Harry Isabel: [00:45:42] I imagine one one, um, lives. Well, they have an office here, their offices somewhere and in Palm Beach, probably one of em was up at this conference you were at.


Tracy Neal: [00:45:51] Yeah, there were two, three of the, actually, probably about five people, not all from the Reyes family. I saw Duke there, but there were people from the organization.


Harry Isabel: [00:46:00] I know the three older boys. Chris Duke and Jude, the other boys. There aren’t some other ones. I don’t know them or younger guys.


Tracy Neal: [00:46:09] Do you know if Joe still alive?


Harry Isabel: [00:46:11] Gee I wish I knew that Joe would be my age.


Tracy Neal: [00:46:16] It’d be a good guy to get on the podcast if he still, you know?


Harry Isabel: [00:46:19] Yeah. Yeah. I omagine Joe is close to my age. Yeah. Yeah, I had to. I’d like to Virginia. It was in the region that I had. Yeah, but that time I had Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina. And yeah, that was it.


Tracy Neal: [00:46:41] So tell me about John Janosko. We got connected by John Janosko, you know, was he’s retired up in Montana. Now, you were. Did you hire him for.


Harry Isabel: [00:46:50] No, I didn’t. No, no, John. All of a sudden, they moved him into Charlotte. I was a director of sales at the time. I had the east eastern United States, had Maine to Florida.


Tracy Neal: [00:47:05] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:47:05] At that time, we had the country split in three parts and I had the eastern third.


Tracy Neal: [00:47:10] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:47:11] And all of a sudden, Big John came and then I went into Charlotte and there’s Big John. And I like where you operated. John was. He was kind of a. 


Tracy Neal: [00:47:21] Great guy.


Harry Isabel: [00:47:24] Yeah. And everyone gravitated, he was a big dude. And nicer than a lot of big dudes. And he was. He was good. John was good then. And then they moved them afterwards. And I retired by that time.


Tracy Neal: [00:47:41] What year did you retire?


Harry Isabel: [00:47:42] I retired in ’68. 


Tracy Neal: [00:47:48] Sixty eight. 


Harry Isabel: [00:47:49] Sixty eight. Yeah, I was 63. And I did. It was just the travel and travel. I’d been a traveler. Travel didn’t bother me, didn’t bother Dorothy. She’d never put the heat on me or anything. But we had four daughters and they were raised. And I think we had the deal gone where we want our daughters to get educated. We want to get married and we want them all to go to the orthodontist. So we did all those three things. And I just decided that I’m living on an airplane and I’m living here and there. And the girls were all raised and doing well and starting our own families. And I’m thinking, no, I’m not going to die on that airplane. Get me out of this parade.


Tracy Neal: [00:48:35] Wait, did you retire in 1968?


Harry Isabel: [00:48:39] No, no, no, no. I’m sorry. No, no. Did I say 68?


Tracy Neal: [00:48:42] Yeah. But maybe at age 68.


Harry Isabel: [00:48:44] No, I was 63. So it was it was ’86.


Tracy Neal: [00:48:48] Eighty six. Okay. I was to say we just talked about the ’70s.


Harry Isabel: [00:48:50] Where are we. When it was ’88.


Tracy Neal: [00:48:53] Eighty eight. Okay. 


Harry Isabel: [00:48:54] Right.


Tracy Neal: [00:48:55] So that would have been I think. Was that when Bush was elected. Because I know you had shown me a picture where you went golfing with President Bush.


Harry Isabel: [00:49:03] Oh no, no, no, no, no. It was ’68. I mean. 


Tracy Neal: [00:49:07] Eighty six.


Harry Isabel: [00:49:11] Well Reagan was. 


Tracy Neal: [00:49:12] I think in his 80s.


Harry Isabel: [00:49:14] Right.


Tracy Neal: [00:49:14] Eighty four.


Harry Isabel: [00:49:16] Yeah. So he would have been President. 


Tracy Neal: [00:49:17] Reagan’s 1984. 1984 with Bush.


Harry Isabel: [00:49:21] Yeah. And then Bush was later. Okay. You know this of course this was much afterwards. This picture I would guess that I showed you was probably 10 years ago. 


Tracy Neal: [00:49:31] Golfing with the president.


Harry Isabel: [00:49:32] Yeah. Actually and he was the pro was Davis Love.


Tracy Neal: [00:49:38] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:49:38] So we all with Davis Love and George Bush. Right. Yeah. That was a nice 18 holes. Was real, real good.


Tracy Neal: [00:49:45] And they were showing me some pictures with you and Vinnie. Test of Ernie and. How Miller used to present the Heisman. He had to go to a bunch of Heisman. Yeah. Presentation.


Harry Isabel: [00:49:55] Yeah. They were obviously in New York. And those in those days they held the Heisman, the awards at the Marriott in Times Square. Okay. And when we we went because we we had the cocktail party and I got to meet quite a few. And incidentally, we had a Heisman winner as our distributor in Athens, Georgia.


Tracy Neal: [00:50:19] Okay. Who was that?. 


Harry Isabel: [00:50:21] Frank Sinkwich.


Tracy Neal: [00:50:21] Frank Sinkwich. 


Harry Isabel: [00:50:23] The last I knew his son Frankie died years ago, but his son ran the business and I hope still lives running the business. Hope he’s living. He had Asheville, North Carolina, and he had Athens, Georgia, but he was a Heisman winner.


Tracy Neal: [00:50:38] Okay. And I know you also said you went to a couple of Super Bowls and he’s memorable Super Bowls that you attended?


Harry Isabel: [00:50:46] Well, of course being a Steeler fan, I saw them beat Dallas here in Miami, and that was 19. Take a fix at ’79.


Tracy Neal: [00:50:56] Okay.


Harry Isabel: [00:50:56] And then we went to saw them beat the Rams in the Rose Bowl. Again, the Steelers, of course. And that was 1980. The only thing about that game is you have to walk through the tunnels. You’ve been to the Rose Bowl? 


Tracy Neal: [00:51:11] I’ve not been to Rose Bowl.


Harry Isabel: [00:51:11] Okay. You walk through the tunnels to get to the field. They stole my money. 


Tracy Neal: [00:51:17] Oh, really?


Harry Isabel: [00:51:18] The pickpockets were in as much the game as the football players. I mean, they found wallets and boxes or wallets.


Tracy Neal: [00:51:25] Really?


Harry Isabel: [00:51:26] Yeah, they picked my pocket.


Tracy Neal: [00:51:28] You didn’t have any money. Didn’t get any beers during the game.


Harry Isabel: [00:51:31] Yeah, I got beers.


Tracy Neal: [00:51:33] You got beer without money. 


Harry Isabel: [00:51:36] Right. Yeah. And then we went yeah. We went to went to one in New Orleans, which is a great place to go to game. Not to watch a game. I don’t like that stadium but being on Bourbon Street with all those people and. 


Tracy Neal: [00:51:51] That’s a lot of fun.


Harry Isabel: [00:51:52] It’s a great place.


Tracy Neal: [00:51:53] What about any memorable World Series have you been to?


Harry Isabel: [00:51:57] No. I never went to a World Series. No. I saw some playoff game, but. No. I never. I never hit a World Series.


Tracy Neal: [00:52:08] As we start to wrap it up here. You know, one of the great things about this podcast is that your kids and your grandkids are going to get to hear this whole story about, you know, your career. But the majority of our listeners are sales reps. You know, we’re driving around all day selling beer in their cars. And a lot of reasons why this podcast has been such a hit is because they love the camaraderie and they love being connected to the sales team. But so often it’s somewhat lonely in the car. So it’s always good to hear stories about how other people are doing the same job you’re doing and hearing it from another perspective. So thank you for all your your stories and your history of your career. But as a you know, as a veteran and one of the legends of this industry, what kind of coaching or advice would you like to give sales reps out there who are driving around today selling beer?


Harry Isabel: [00:52:59] Well, I think the big thing is not the big thing. There are a lot of big things involved, but I think personal interest is is is one of the top on the agendas. I mean, I think a buyer looks at people as. They want to look at themselves. Possibly. I mean, I don’t think you want to overload, but still, you know, to under load. I mean, maybe I’m saying you want to be human. And I think. I think a handshake and a look in the eye is is is the best sales pitch that anyone can have. And I think you always have to be truthful with people, too. And you’re going to if you’re telling me to do something, you’re going to do it.I think that’s that ever lasting, if you will.And I think that’s what you want to present yourself to people that you’re not just there today, you’re going to be back. Because if  you’re a salesman and you’re selling on the road, you’re going to be back. So, you know, touch the base, but don’t leave. I think that’s one of the thing I always believed in in personal interest, too. I mean, when you meet someone that doesn’t help or hurt, to maybe come up with a little something or stick with you. You know, maybe the wife gives them in. Maybe it’s the wife for me and the family or I mean, try to get a little bit of personalization, if you will,. 


Tracy Neal: [00:54:39] To get to know them.


Harry Isabel: [00:54:42] And you’re in your in your calls themselves. Yeah. I mean, we all want to be professional. And I think that’s a big thing, too. Let’s be professional. And I know it’s a tough game. There are there are a lot of people out there that don’t want to be bothered by, you know, as I told you. But, lady, my first sales call. And there are a lot of those people out there that they have. And of course, everyone’s busy these days, too. You know, the the race is on. I mean, I don’t have to tell you or any guy that’s selling today. It’s hard to believe. To me, the packaging and the brands and it’s mind, these poor guys, whoever does the inventory control, whoever loads the trucks, whoever delivers it. That’s another thing. In my old days, you know, you get a little box truck that you loaded from the rear end on you and they have the doors that open and everything. But you didn’t have these big trailers. And now they get into the 7-Eleven up the corner. I don’t know. But they do. Yeah. So it’s it’s certainly a different game than it was. You said you go.


Tracy Neal: [00:55:59] You go out to retail sometimes when you go to the grocery store at your nearby grocery store.


Harry Isabel: [00:56:03] Oh, yes.


Tracy Neal: [00:56:04] Did you like like the rest of us in this industry? You always hit the beer alley.


Harry Isabel: [00:56:09] Always look it over. I know. Oh, quite a few years ago, I went up to the public’s up here. They had a little special on Miller. You know, I like a special on Miller High Life as my brand, incidentally, and I went in.


Tracy Neal: [00:56:23] Are you still enjoying beer today?


Harry Isabel: [00:56:25] Oh, yeah.


Tracy Neal: [00:56:25] Or you enjoy beer once in a while.


Harry Isabel: [00:56:26] Oh, my. Every day.


Tracy Neal: [00:56:28] Every day.


Harry Isabel: [00:56:29] Oh, yeah. Got to.


Tracy Neal: [00:56:30] OK.


Harry Isabel: [00:56:30] Every day.


Tracy Neal: [00:56:31] We should have. We should usually crack one at beginning of the podcast.


Harry Isabel: [00:56:35] Well we got early for that. 


Tracy Neal: [00:56:38] We started at 8am. 


Harry Isabel: [00:56:39] Not anymore. But one day I went up to this public and they had an on sale and I went over the cooler was no Miller in it. So I went up to the desk and they weren’t too busy. And the manager was there and said, look, you have Miller on sale. I want some somebody says well in the cooler as that was not there. He said, oh, he said, well, there will be said that the distributors job. I says, well, I don’t know what that means. I knew what it meant. Said, well yeah, the distributors fill those coolers. I says, wait a minute, the distributors fill the coolers and you sell the beer and I’m your customer, you’re my distributor. Then why don’t you fill in a big. I go in and. 


Tracy Neal: [00:57:28] You messin with them, huh? 


Harry Isabel: [00:57:28] And find leases to someone, get a cart and go back there and get some beer for.


Tracy Neal: [00:57:34] This guy a miller.


Harry Isabel: [00:57:35] Yeah, but you got to do it. Go get. I’ll give you a little story now. Since you brought that up. When light beer. Come on. And when Philip Morris took over, too, I was in Virginia.


Tracy Neal: [00:57:49] Yeah.


Harry Isabel: [00:57:49] And we had someone come in two or the trade because light was moving and they wanted to see what was going on. Yeah. So, OK. They came in with me and I I took them. And when I made the sales calls, generally, I had one of my guys with me, you know. Well, on this call, I was the guy. And here’s the guy from the hierarchy coming in. OK. So we went to a package store and it was in Maryland. I remember it very well. And I was just going down the street. So we go in and the plate was a nice door and it really wasn’t that busy. And so I got this guy and there’s some crying through instant questions. The manager, you know, or the clerk or whatever. And the hierarchy was here, you know. So I’m asking him. And the guy was very nice and he gave us the answers and so forth. So we spent 15, 20 minutes anyway, at least with the guy. No one come in. But so we had a say. So we’re ready to leave. And I says, I you know, I think we’d better go. And the guy says, Oh yeah, OK, that’s fine. So I went to the back and I picked up two six packs and they had one of those conveyor belts. You know, I put the six packs on, I thought, oh you guys is seven dollars or whatever. And I paid him and I said, I have these on us. Well, you know.


Tracy Neal: [00:59:12] So you bought beer to leave behind. 


Harry Isabel: [00:59:15] For him.


Tracy Neal: [00:59:15] For him. 


Harry Isabel: [00:59:16] Yeah. So we went out and this guy, he went. I love the way you handled that, he said geez, man, he said that was terrific. I said, hey, you know, I don’t like maybe I didn’t blow it, but I thought, what the hell do you think we’re gonna do? We’ve bled the man for 20 minutes, for crying out loud. Know, I figured I’d give it to him in my talk. You know, he said, terrific. 


Tracy Neal: [00:59:45] Terrific. This was a guy, a more senior guy in the Miller Brewing Company. He was really impressed with how you handle it.


Harry Isabel: [00:59:52] But it goes back to the deal. I mean, you do what you do because, you know. That’s why you do it. That’s right.


Tracy Neal: [01:00:01] Yep. That’s how we do it. It’s all about relationships and making up and at retail.


Harry Isabel: [01:00:04] Right.


Tracy Neal: [01:00:05] Every store counts. Every bottle counts.


Harry Isabel: [01:00:07] Now that’s the guy you like, guys like Big John, because Big John’s that kind of guy. you know.


Tracy Neal: [01:00:12] Absolutely.


Harry Isabel: [01:00:13] And truthfully, mostly our guys were all that way.


Tracy Neal: [01:00:15] That’s great.


Harry Isabel: [01:00:16] Yeah.


Tracy Neal: [01:00:17] Well, I I’m very thankful that John introduced us and thankful that I was lucky enough to be in the Palm Beach area. I just happened to be here after we met a week ago on email. Harry, it’s been a true pleasure hearing your stories. I’m sure we could go on for four or five hours about that time or four or five more weeks. But thank you for sharing your career with the sales reps who are driving around all day selling beer today. You’re a true legend and an icon, and you’ve got so much wisdom and experience. I’ve enjoyed meeting you. I know our listeners have. Thank you for going a little bit longer here and making this a two part series. But I just didn’t want to miss any of the good stories.


Harry Isabel: [01:00:55] Thank you so much. It’s been my pleasure.


Tracy Neal: [01:00:57] It’s been a pleasure. And I’m going to put you I know you don’t wear a lot of sweaters in Florida, but I’m going to put you on the Christmas sweater list for next year anyway, because we have a Christmas sweater. That says iSellBeer on it. We did it. It was a huge hit.


Harry Isabel: [01:01:11] Oh, yeah. Alright.


Tracy Neal: [01:01:12] People loved it because it says iSellBeer on it. You go to public, you go to the grocery store and iSellBeer shirt and they like it.


Harry Isabel: [01:01:19] Good. That’ll be good. Okay, great. Thank you. 


Tracy Neal: [01:01:22] Thank you so much.


Harry Isabel: [01:01:23] Thank you. Thank you.


Tracy Neal: [01:01:24] 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.

Wait! Before You Go

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