So when you talk about being inclusive and making sure you’re getting in front of people, no matter who they were, what kind of programs did you guys put on?
We pretty much answered every phone call, every email, and took every single meeting of anybody that ever wanted to meet with us or wanted us to be a part of their event. I can say that out of my 10 years at Yazoo, about six to seven of those were spent out and about or on the road. Just being everywhere that we possibly could be and in front of as many people as would have us. To use the parallel of fans of musicians, you start at a point where you’ll take anybody that will listen to you, even if you’re playing for free. That was a unique time, but even now there are still so many more non-craft beer drinkers than there are craft beer drinkers in the markets that we’re in. So we’ve used that as an opportunity to be the first craft beer that anybody ever had while trying to negate any pretension that came along with it.
I know you’re the sales and marketing manager and obviously you’re spending a lot of time out there preaching the good word. Is that something all the reps are doing? Is that a company-wide philosophy or are you mostly responsible for having those meetings and going to those events?
It was pretty much me for 90 percent of that time frame. We had a part-time sales person that called on Memphis but the rest of the time I was handling everything in the rest of the state and Mississippi. Then about four years ago, we hired a person to take care of Knoxville and Chattanooga. Then about a year or two after that we hired somebody full time for Mississippi and Memphis. Now we’re in the process of hiring a couple more people for here in Nashville. We have recently brought on a new sales director and I’ve taken a step back away from that because after 10 years of being deep into it, it’s time for somebody new to take the steering wheel and, you know, shape us into what the next 10 or 15 years of Yazoo will be.
So you guys distribute in Tennessee and Mississippi. How did you know when the right time was to tackle a new region, pick up another distributor, and make those key hires?
We really haven’t added any new distribution except for one or two markets over the last four or five years. And the reason being is when I started with the company we rolled into northern Alabama, which is Birmingham and Huntsville, and we saw that there were really only about five other craft breweries there outside of the big guys. That was only like us, Abita, Lazy Magnolia, and Terrapin. We rolled into those markets just because there was an absence of craft beers – there was only one local brewery. What we had in our portfolio was its own unique thing. And when we rolled into Mississippi, where our owners are from, it was the same exact situation there.