Bloggin Hiatus – Not Cool

It’s been a minute since my last blog…actually more like 6 weeks, but who’s counting.  I’m not sure what the purpose of this blog is, really.  It’s not like all of you write blogs to broadcast what you’ve been up to.  And I’m no longer doing it for GMTP recruiting because that’s already over (congrats to all who accepted by the way).  But I guess it’s growing on me or something.  Maybe it’ll turn out to be a good diary-type read to show the youngsters some day.  Maybe I’ll forget my login and password and lose it all forever, too.  Anyways, here we go… 

I’ve been lucky enough to have been through a dizzying experience since my last blog of vacations, staycations, mancations, and brocations.  I the midst of all of that, I had the chance to learn a little bit about the sales side of our business by working at one of our wholly owned distributorships just north of LA.  Let’s just say that I’ll never look at a beer account the same again.  The folks at the Sylmar WOD showed us a great time and taught us a lot.  We even got some blue-collar labor in, tossing around cases, loading/unloading trucks and getting to work at 3:30 AM on multiple occasions.  These guys earn their money in an often-times thankless job.  

But back to the ‘cations’.  It’s tough to sum up, but here goes nothing… 

  • Vicente Fernandez concert – this guy lived up to the hype of being the “Mexican Elvis”.  I didn’t understand a word he said all night, but he rocked hard for four hours and there were a lot of happy Budweiser drinkers in the crowd (Unfortunately, “Chente” just slams shots of tequila all night on stage.  I guess we didn’t get that worked into the sponsorship agreement).

This is the real deal.

  • Denver, CO – snowmobiling mancation with the baller better know as my dad/Big D.  This guy is a magician when it comes to arranging weekend trips of cool experiences and father/son bonding action.  On top of snowmobiling, we saw Melo burry a fade away game winner against the Derrick Rose-less Bulls, then finished the weekend by flexing our scalping skills at Mile High stadium to see the Rams burry the shameful Broncos.  To my surprise and delight, A-B dominates the hometown of Coors – good work JD, JA, AP, and Steve!

Rams @ Broncos at Mile High Stadium

Pepsi Center in Denver, CO
  • Phoenix, AZ – this time, I met both parents for a quick getaway and continuation of our ride on the Rams bandwagon – we were good luck, after all.  And sure enough, the three of us sent the Rams back to STL with a second consecutive road victory!

University of Phoenix Stadium - Rams beat the Cardinals

  • Santa Barbara, CA – my beautiful girlfriend, Jessica, came to visit Socal for her second time in four months, but this time, we strolled up the 101 along the Pacific coast to see what all the hype was about in Santa Barbara.  Question answered.  That place is a must see for all you bros/brodettes (or ‘fellas’ as they say in Boardwalk Empire) if you ever get the chance.  We squeezed in some Christmas shopping, a play, some sight seeing, a run along the beach, and plenty of R&R. 

Santa Barbara, CA - pictures do it little justice

  • Las Vegas, NV – definite brocation, featuring Dharma, JD, and B Ross.  Band of Buds finals at The Mirage (well, really all over Vegas, but gotta have a place to lay your head, so we’ll call it The Mirage).  I don’t really know how to describe this one (maybe JD can in his next blog?), but I think this Rolling Stone cover sums it up pretty nicely.  **Side note – you bros out there need to sign up and win this thing next year. 

 

Cardinals pitcher, Kyle Mclelland and me at Band of Buds finals

You’ll see this in stores soon
  • STL, MO – after the aforementioned whirlwind (and some work scattered in between), I made it back home for a great week of holidays, family, and friends.  A few highlights from the week include:  alumni volleyball tournament at Lafayette, some killer gifts and gift giving, a trip to Mizzou to see the #10 (and rising) Tigers put a perennial tournament team in Old Dominion to shame, and capped off with a NYE celebration at none other than Bar Louie.  It was great to see everyone and I’m pumped to be back in STL for most of January (after one last week in LA) and some of February. 

Courtside at Mizzou Arena

  • Seattle, WA – just when I thought the mancations and Rams following was over for the year, it became our duty to travel with the Rams up to Seattle for the winner-take-all playoff-esque game (as you would imagine, Big D worked his travel magic again to make this happen).  Unfortunately, the planned win and playoff berth didn’t pan out this week.  I guess the good luck had to wear off at some point.  But nonetheless, we had another great weekend and I got to see another cool city/beer market (however…Seahawks fans are straight up trash and I can’t wait for sweet revenge next year.  Still a great bounce back season Rams!). 

Rams @ Seahawks, Qwest Field. Unbelievable seats and stadium, but not so great result.

  • LA, CA – I just got back home for one final week in sunny LA (I think…I guess there’s a chance I return at some point, but should find out soon).  This week will be spent at the Region 8 Sales office in Westlake Village who scored us the A-B suite at the Clippers/Nuggets game on Wednesday at Staples Center.  Of all the sporting events I’ve been to in the past few months, this will actually be the first one in the city I live in.  It’s been a good four months here in LA/Hollyhood.  I can’t believe how quick it’s gone by and how many hands I’ve shaken and factoids I’ve tried to absorb (‘tried’ being a key word there).  I’m now ready to go back to zone headquarter training in STL for the next month and find out where the last half of the GMTP will take me (I’m crossing my fingers for Hawaii).  Wherever it may be, I think I’m hooked on the blogs, so feel free to check back for more updates down the road, or even better, come visit me. 

As Bernie Miklasz closes his 5 minute blog posts with, thanks for reading. 

Peace and love,

AB

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STL and Back to SoCal

To my millions of loyal blog subscribers, let me first apologize for the lack of blogs in the past few weeks. I’m tempted to say I was busy, but in reality, many of you were probably much busier than me. Doesn’t everyone seem to be busy, though? I’m pretty sure whether I worked 4 hours in a day or 14, I would convince myself that my life is so busy, I barely have time to write a simple blog. But fear not, ‘I’m back baby,’ – Kenny Powers.


The past few weeks have spanned 3 cities, several introductory handshakes, a meeting with the A-BI board of directors, a food/wine festival, and of course several beers consumed and lack of workouts, among other things. We started our Commercial training back in STL a few weeks ago. But before the training got going, we had the opportunity to meet with our esteemed Board of Directors. What a group of gentlemen and scholars they are. Its amazing the interest and respect these guys had for a group of 14 idiots just starting with their company who may have some say in the future price of the stock in which they are heavily leveraged. I definitely walked away from the meet and greet feeling like a million bucks…which by the way is still chump change to them.

The GMT's with the A-BI Board of Directors

Once the excitement of the board meeting settled down and we celebrated Halloween, we were privileged enough to listened to several presentations about the ins and outs of selling and marketing beer at the worlds largest beer company. For now, I’ll just say it’s a lot more than coming up with Super Bowl commercials. Fast forward a couple of weeks, rounds of golf in the beautiful STL fall weather, some good time at home with my fam, friends, and gf, and we’re back in SoCal – same group as before but different apartment (Woodland Hills this time — no more Hollyhood).  And we now have to wear dress pants every day (pity). A day after getting back to LA, I was told I needed to go down to San Diego (or Saint Diago as Ron Burgendy would say) to tend to some urgent business that obviously could not move forward without my skills (insert sarcasm emoticon here – is there one of those?). Actually, that business consisted of driving inland to Palm Desert to work with a few Buffalo Wild Wings accounts (our #1 selling on premise chain), meeting several Southern Cal A-B wholesalers (our front line sales force), and working the San Diego Food and Wine festival — first at a food/beer pairing cooking class hosted by world renown chef Daniel Joly, then on a boat for a VIP get together, and finally on a beautiful peninsula on the Pac ocean the next day. Stella, Hoegaarden and Leffe stole the show from the food and wine vendors, and Leffe is one of my new favorite beers.

Daniel Joly - Master Chef - incorporates Stella, Leffe, and Hoegaarden into many recipes.Beer pairings getting set at the food and beer cooking class with Master Chef Daniel Joly

Belgian beer bar setup at the VIP tent for the Food and Wine festival

a few tents and downtown SD in the background - unfortunately, it was rainy most of the day, but it didn't stop the flow of beer

Kansas City Barbeque - the bar where the bar scenes from Top Gun were filmed. Dharma and I made some friends and tipped the bartender well.

Maybe the coolest news, though, is that on the night before Thanksgiving this week, we get to work a Vicente Fernandez concert (Budweiser sponsors his tour) who is the real life ‘most interesting man in the world’ backslash the Mexican Elvis, Mariachi style. I hope to report back on Thanksgiving day with a pic along side this living legend. For now, just enjoy this one…

Mexican Elvis

So suffice it to say, our Commercial training experience has been awesome thus far.
I’m also pretty pumped to meet my dad in Denver this weekend for a Nuggets game, go snow mobiling, and catch the Rams at Broncos game (shy of my mom’s stuffing on Thanksgiving, its a nice consolation), then meet both my parents the following weekend in Phoenix for the Rams game against the pathetic but division rival Cardinals (I hope we’re good luck – they’re 1-0 so far in games I’ve been to and 0-4 in games I’ve gamecasted on espn.com), then have a short cute blonde friend in town to see me the weekend after that! You know how the saying goes — good times, great blogs.

College hoops is underway if you didn’t know – bring home the repeat Blue Jays!

Peace and love to all,
AB

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Quick Blog Action

Tomorrow is our final day of our Supply assignment at the LA brewery.  Next up, STL for two weeks for the beginning of our Commercial (Sales/Marketing) training, then back out to LA for about two months to get some field Commercial experience (and hopefully attend numerous Lakers, Clippers, UCLA, and USC hoops games).  Last week, Garth, T-Pain, D$, and I gave presentations to the management here at the brewery on our experiences, learnings, and projects, then celebrated by doing some punished beer tastings.  One word of advice, don’t leave your beer in your trunk for more than the ride home…it affects the taste big time.  

Latest celebrity sighting – JC Chasez of N’Sync (see below).  He had the same idea as us when he sat right next to us at The Parlor in Hollywood to watch the Mizzou thrashing of then #1 Oklahoma.  Not my proudest celeb spotting, but he was a beer drinker and pretty sure he was cheering for Mizzou, so I’ll take it. 

Yeah, that guy.

Crossfit = intense, but fun. 

+50% … of my money has been spent on getting hauled around this massive town in taxi cabs.  Be(er) Responsible. 

Lookout for … Mizzou football, Rams football, OKC Thunder basketball, and more new Budweiser commercials with the ‘anticipation’ theme.  

Next up on the docket — back to St. Louis to meet the A-BI Board of Directors, watch some football, drink some beer, and eat some Halloween candy!

Chapter one of two in Hollyhood has come to an end just as the Santa Ana winds are blowing into town…see you soon St. Louie!

AB

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Update from LA

Since my fellow LA GMT’s aren’t too handy with the blogging, here’s the latest from LA (in bullet point format to keep my massive audience of readers on their toes and also with an excess amount of pics in an effort to keep up with JD, aka The Great American BLager)…

  • It’s about 90 degrees and sunny as I sit outside by the pool and write this blog.
  • Dharma and I just got done shooting guns at a range (.22 and .45 calibers), which I shamefully admit was a first for me.  Let’s just say it was harder than I thought and athletic ability does not translate to shooting accuracy.  I’ll be damned if Dharma didn’t teach me good form, though (see below).

Dharma taking aim...a true jack of all trades

My not-so-killer-aim, but phenomenal form if I do say so, myself.

  • I’m extremely jealous of Danny/Garth who is playiing in the vendor golf tournament right now.  I’m a little nervous for him, though, considering he didn’t know what a scramble is and wanted to wear my brewery Sketchers to play in.  I’m sure he drank some Michelob Ultras to offset the embarrassment, though.
  • Tiffany just made some major coin working three 12 hour shifts over the weekend, something I’m also jealous of.  Except that I had some fun myself this weekend (see next bullet)…
  • My bro/former roommate, Spence made the four hour trek this weekend to kick it with me.  Festivities included, but weren’t limited to:  having dinner with an actor and co-star of the hit show, “Chuck”; having lunch on Malibu beach and consuming some Hoegaarden; meeting some neighbors here at the apartment complex only to beat them repeatedly in drinking games and proceed to being ‘unwelcomed’ in their place for taunting (throwing empty cups at them in celebration of a W); playing Taxi Cab Confessions on our many taxi rides from bar to bar; drinking lots of beer…you can use your imagination on which brands.

View from lunch at Duke's of the Pacific ocean

2 hour time difference makes for some tough nights...

Our Saturday night dinner dates, Ryan Mcpartlin from Chuck and his wife, Danielle. Good people.

  • I met my birthday girl/Mom (39 years young???) and Dad in Vegas last weekend where we again supported A-B sales with style and class.  We also taught the birthday girl how to gamble a bit (dangerous).

Las Vegas strip

The birthday girl and me outside NY, NY

  • Brett Favre — what are you doing???  Taking a page out of Tiger’s book?  You’re better than that!

C'mon Brett!

 

  • My free gym membership expired, so I have no way of countering all the weekend beer weight I’ve picked up, and even less motivation.  But I’ll use the ‘I’m on my feet at work all day’ excuse to justify the lack of workouts from this point forward. 
  • I have a project at the brewery coming due and lots of work to do for it.  Yet, I’ve spent my free time doing things like seeing The Social Network and watching re-runs of Chuck on Hulu.  Feel free to make me feel better about procrastination by leaving a comment of how you’re doing the same.
  • Mizzou has moved to #19 in the USA Today poll.  Meanwhile, Penn State continues to disappoint Sweet Lou and friends…
  • I’ve been having a re-occuring dream of my basketball days @ Westminster College.  I always wake up thinking that I should’ve played in the NBA.  But the GMTP isn’t a bad alternative…

Just re-living the glory days...

  • Speaking of…A-BI GMTP recruitment and interviews are in full swing.  If you’re getting ready to interview and have any questions about the program or company, feel free to email me at buxtonar@gmail.com
  • I’ll be back in STL from October 27 – November 13 before returning to Cali for the final leg of my Hollywood tour.  I hope to see you all then!
  • Until then, drink more Budweiser and listen to more O.A.R!

Jerrie Dipizzo of O.A.R. taken by yours truely at a recent concert

Peace and love from LA!

AB

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Quick Sales Pitch…

People with angst of large companies for false assumptions is something that has always bothered me.  So I was naturally interested in the following exerpt from an interview with a Google exec I read in Ad Age yesterday (not direct quote); It’s human nature to root for the underdog.  When you’re successful, it becomes about exceeding people’s expectations.  So, is that where the solution is to combating the A-B (and big company in general) “haters” that think we only make beer to please Wall Street…exceeding people’s expectations?  If so, I guess the million dollar question becomes…what are people’s expectations of A-B?  I’m sure each person out there has a different set of expectations for the world’s largest brewer, but I would be hard pressed to think anyone wouldn’t expect, better yet, demand us to produce the highest quality product possible, right?  Well, my experience with the A-B “haters” is that they think we lose sight of our product because we shuffle so much of it through our system on a daily basis.  BUT, with scale comes resources, and with resources comes the ability to invest in processes that others cannot, to ensure the utmost integrity of every beer produced.  I could ramble about the process quality checks that go on in every brewery in every stage of the process on a minute by minute basis, or the fact that we fly Budweiser in from each of the 18 North American breweries on a daily basis to be tasted/tested/critiqued and acted upon if necessary (which it rarely is), but to make a long story short…just because we’re big (the biggest, actually), doesn’t mean we don’t care.  In fact, it means the exact opposite.  A-B was built on a foundation of quality and I can assure you that will never be compromised.  After all, we can’t continually satisfy Wall Street without first satisfying our consumers.

Don’t take this as me preaching…most of you are aware of it anyway, and also aware that I don’t like to preach.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since this GMTP adventure, it’s that there are a lot of big minds working very hard to make sure our products, processes, and practices are the benchmark of not only the beer industry, but of the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry in general.  So you can all rest easy at night (or pass out if you’ve had enough…) after having a few Buds knowing that it couldn’t have ended up in your stomach without being examined under a microscope…literally!

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Van Nuys Brewery, The Real OC

It’s been a while since my last blog post (one esteemed individual actually pointed out exactly 16 days) and that’s for pretty good reason, at least I like to think so.  No different than any other GMT, regardless of location, I’ve been up to my ears in beer – unfortunately, not from a consumption standpoint; rather a production standpoint.  But hey, better than any other product or service I can think of.  Over the past couple weeks, I’ve gained a new girlfriend by the name of Brewery Packaging and Supply (BP&S).  She has continuously brought me back to earth by reminding me that I don’t know (fill in a derogatory noun of choice here).  Walking into work each morning (at 5:45 am…at least it helps me avoid LA traffic) wide eyed and clueless is the best way to stay grounded that I can think of, so I’m not going to complain.  **I’d be remiss if I didn’t interrupt this blog at this very moment to announce that my roommate, Garth to most, just presented me with a massive bowl of homemade pasta despite me already having eaten a full meal and three rice krispy treats sent from home – it would be rude of me to say no, though, right?**  I actually have loved the brewery and packaging operation through my first three weeks, and looking forward to the next five!  Not to mention the rest of the brewery operation that I’m slowly divulging myself into including brewing, utilities, warehouse, logistics…pretty much everything shy of driving an 18 wheeler myself. 

Some soldiers on their way to finding a home.

 So yes, I’ve learned a ton and it’s been great so far…blah, blah, blah.  That’s nothing unexpected, although very cool.  For those of you who care enough (or pity me enough) to read this, you’re probably wondering how life is in the wild west, aka Hollyhood.  Well, to be honest, we didn’t start off with the bang we anticipated…not because of lack of ambition or things to do, but mostly due to exhaustion — those 4:30am wake up calls will wear on you.  But fear not, I redeemed myself this past weekend as I had a very special short blonde visitor who was relying on me to show her the town.  And see the town we did.  From canyon hiking to Universal Studios to a four beach day (including the one and only Venice/Muscle Beach) to multiple ice cream desserts to shopping on Rodeo Drive (only to play the guess-that-price game) to LOTS of time in the car, I feel confident that we got more done in this one weekend than I will the other eight that I’m here, which I’m okay with.  Hey, there’s plenty of football that needs to be watched too.  However, there are a few things left on the to-do list (other than football), including but not limited to; 5 and/or 10k run (just to burn off this pasta and all the Socal ice cream), golf, trip to Vegas to meet my non-gambling but ready-to-pound beers family, show my former roommate/current bro the town as he makes a visit in October, and watching Boise State validate their existence as worthy BCS contenders (Sweet Lou, don’t act like the spread vs. Penn State wouldn’t be Boise -35).  One piece of wisdom…NEVER schedule a flight to or from LAX anytime around the evening rush hour…or if you do, make sure you have a convertible so you can at least catch some rays in the 45 minutes it takes you to go 0.7 miles (yeah, that bad).

Huntington Beach from the pier -- one of the four beaches visited this past Saturday.

 First celebrity sighting – Billy Bob Thorton.  I guess he’s a voice in some new animated movie about owls…I don’t know, my knowledge of ‘the industry’ hasn’t grown much since I’ve been out here. 

All for now.  Do me and yourself a favor and keep drinking Budweiser.  Peace and love back to the STL!

AB

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Blood, Sweat, and Beers

The business of making beer is no joke.  Especially making it to the standards demanded by A-BI.  I’m finding this out first hand as I begin my first nine weeks in the Los Angeles brewery, the third largest volume brewery out of our 12 domestic breweries (STL being #1).  The LA brewery is huge, the process complex, and the quality and safety standards are second to none.  If you had any clue how much beer we dump on a daily basis because it’s not 101% perfect, you would likely get sick…but then you might appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into making every beer A-BI beer…no exceptions. 

So, we (myself, Garth, D$, and Fannie Pack) have been in LA for a week now, and have a lot to experience to say the least (falling asleep by 9pm the first Friday and Saturday nights wasn’t part of the plan), which we fully intend to kick off this weekend.  The agenda will include but not be limited to; hit The Comedy Store to see my buddy do stand up, beer tastings from the assortment of brands we got from beer pickup this week, 9:30am Mizzou/Illinois Braggin Rights watch party in Hollywood, beach(es) (with several Bud Lights, obviously), and various bar scenes.  Traffic has been bearable (granted, I drive to work at 5:30am), there has yet to be a single cloud in the sky or temperature above 85, and best of all…we have a basketball court at our sweet apartment complex where Garth and I have already ate a few unlucky kids’ lunches.  Also, rumor has it that Jay Leno does random door knocks for his show in our complex.  For location reference, we’re directly on the other side of the aforementioned “Hollyhood” hill.

Week one working in the brewery was awesome.  I’ve never worked in a  manufacturing environment and I’m not an engineer, so I was somewhat skeptical of how this would go.  Granted, I’m only 1/9 of the way through the brewery assignment, but I’m developing a genuine curiosity for how this place works.  Information overload?  Yes.  Long and strange hours?  I’ve already worked a day shift and doubled back for a graveyard shift later that night with no sleep, so yes.  But, as the MasterCard commercials go…understanding the product that has made your company what it is…priceless.  I’m focusing in on the packaging operation within the brewery, but will also be getting plenty of hands-on training in brewing, utilities, and warehouse logistics throughout the nine weeks.  Each day, another piece of the puzzle is falling into place, which is pretty cool.  With that said, staying motivated is about as easy as drinking a frosty Bud. 

Alright, I don’t want to violate the ‘2 screen’ blog rule of thumb by getting into the thousands of grueling details about what I’ve done this week, so I’ll leave with this — I have plenty of room for anyone who wants to frequent the town of Hollyhood for a weekend and would always be willing to meet halfway in Vegas, so hit me up!

Much love to all my fam, friends, and co-workers holding it down in STL!

AB

 

Where I'm writing this blog from...

Where I'm writing this blog from...

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