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Making friends one six pack at a time!

That was in Harry’s own words. Harry Davidson and Sid Blache, our Business Development Managers, as well as myself, have been doing the beer rounds this past October.  Our beer rounds have been taking place at beer conventions exchanging business cards and networking rather than guzzling down a six-pack at your friendly neighborhood bars and pubs. These events were on the tail of Oktoberfest and were a great follow-up to the festival that mostly includes beer!

The beer industry is one of the most interesting and distinctive industries that Bluff Manufacturing has had the pleasure of working with. The distribution of beer is even more interesting and rather unique. A large percentage of the beer distributors in the United States are independent, local distributors (a result of laws enacted after the Prohibition era).

Bluff Manufacturing was at two beer conventions this fall – The National Beer Wholesalers Association Convention (of which we are a member) took place in Illinois, Chicago on October 3rd – 5th, 2010. The second convention was The A-B Sales Convention, 2010 Anheuser Busch that took place on October 18th – 20th. Both were great shows and the time we invested at each was well spent. From a networking perspective, the rewards couldn’t have been richer or more fulfilling.

The Anheuser Busch (AB) Sales Convention had about 4,000 guests; 250 of who were senior and frontline managers from AB and about 740 – 1000 management teams representing wholesalers. As a Bluff team, we were able to establish contacts, create tighter links to networks, and identify opportunities. Two of Anheuser Busch’s largest, independently owned wholesalers are located right here in Texas – Ben E. Keith and Silver Eagle.

For Bluff Manufacturing, the beer distribution segment holds great potential. Our sister company Magline, already has established ties as a supplier with this segment.

Beer is heavy; and they move lots of it in and out of facilities. From large 7 – 14 gallon aluminum kegs to smaller 12 ounce bottles and cans that we’re familiar with, beer comes in all shapes and sizes. And this broad range of package sizes creates material handling challenges for the industry. The velocity with which this industry operates requires great efficiency. Distributors need to have well-implemented material handling solutions to keep their costs down, reduce risks, and increase efficiency. And that’s where we come into the picture.

Bluff Dock Boards, Plates, and Crash Guard products help speed things up, increase efficiency, and secure material handling personnel and freight. Most important, we help beer distributors operate at productive and cost-effective levels. We play a big part in preventing damage to products, facilities, and equipment.

In some ‘bottle-states,’ they have bottle laws enacted to keep highways clean and bottle-free, and to encourage recycling. When bottles are returned by customers to retailers, and retailers to distributors, they get back an initial deposit on the purchase of the beverage. Our yard ramps have played a prominent role in transporting these empty bottles back.

With 1500 – 2000 distributors in the United States, the beer industry will become an important segment in the coming years for Bluff. As for the A-B Convention, let’s just say, Anheuser Busch knows how to throw a party! The highlights of the show were the graceful and magnificent Clydesdale horses that were there to promote the Anheuser Busch brand. These lovely creatures actually made a beer delivery in old, turn-of-the-century wagons to the French quarters in New Orleans! What a treat! A big thanks to Anheuser Busch for being such gracious hosts and for taking such care to maintain supplier relations!