Being an employee of Schlafly, you are constantly given opportunities to go beyond the confines of your own job title to assist somewhere else within the company. Whether it’s a tour guide working alongside a brewer to learn the process, or a restaurant server going to pour beer at one of the many festivals around St. Louis, there’s always an appreciation for hard work. I started working at the Bottleworks restaurant in Maplewood. I’ve held many different positions while I was there, but this past summer I stepped up and asked if I could see how the business side worked. So, in the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside the people that “sell”, educate, and make people fall in love with Schlafly beer.
This past summer I was given the privilege to ride shotgun in one of the Schlafly vans we always see darting around the city. I have to say, it might not seem like a big deal to most people, but to a craft beer enthusiast and Schlafly employee, it was a real treat. Nine A.M. At the Bottleworks is where I met up with Nick Vickery, a veteran sales rep for Schlafly. Coffee cups were filled while he talked with the kitchen crew. From there it was a gathering of beer for tastings and merchandise to bring a little more Schlafly into everyone’s life.
We loaded up the Schlaf-Mobile and made our way to the first account, a new place looking to make Schlafly part of their menu. With KDHX on the radio and the 100-degree heat beating through the window, Nick handed me a draft technician’s guide to thumb through. It was my first chance of the day to start absorbing information. As I looked through it, Nick was telling me about things in the guide right before I would get to that page. It was obvious that he knew this guide from front to back. He had to, for his sake and the sake of the accounts he took care of. We made small talk while we drove across town. Well, he basically dropped knowledge on me as I tried to catch every word. From the proper temperatures beer should be poured to different setups of draft towers. I asked questions, in which I was given the answer promptly, until we arrived in Mid-town. After a few pointers on how to conduct yourself and a rundown of how he was going pitch all the right information, I followed him with a cooler through the front doors of the small restaurant. From here on I just sat back and watched.
After the first handshake they shared it was as if he’d known this guy forever. There was instant small talk, which segued into sitting at a table discussing our beer, and what would work best for success. As samples were going around, I watched and listened as Nick asked the questions, and gave the answers this soon-to-be buyer needed to hear, and some he wasn’t expecting. In about half an hour there was a second meeting arranged for food pairings, installing draft boxes, and starting promotions. As we left and got back into the van I asked, “Is it always that easy?” Nick laughed of the question with a no and we were off to the next few accounts.
Throughout the day we visited places that already sold our beer. He showed me how to go about checking draft lines, and graciously handed out those coasters we all see at almost every bar around St. Louis. He took me to grocery stores where I learned about how shelf layouts and points of sale work within the industry. There’s more to these beer shelves than most of us think. Heck, there’s more that goes into around which corner you put your beer and precisely which way it faces. It was so interesting to see the ins and outs of the grocery and liquor store aspects. Off-premise accounts as they’re called, because, you drink that delicious beer anywhere besides in that grocery or liquor store. See, now you’ve at least learned something from all of this.
But seriously, if you take anything from this short anecdote, that could have been a novel, know this; these guys that are going out everyday making sure we can get our Schlafly beer at the freshest, best quality and at the establishment we need it most, they’re doing it for us. I learned so much in the eight hours that I sat high and mighty in the Schlafly Mobile. I think that any avid or amateur Schlafly drinker appreciates the hard work these guys put in making sure we get Schlafly beer in our hands, I know I do. So next time you see a Schlafly van out on the street, give them a honk and a wave. It’s sure to be appreciated.