A Booze Business Fairy Tale

Once upon a time in the land of Makaplan, the ruling Prince was having some problems. Business was not good and the people were not happy.

“How will we manage to increase our wealth if our sales are not growing? If you can’t do it, then we will find someone who will move our goods and at a more profitable rate,” they exclaimed.

The Prince was worried and turned to the King for help. Alas, the King, who was from another land, had no idea how to increase the wealth of Makaplan. “What do you think?” asked the King.

“Well, I could do what we always did in my previous kingdom when I was just a Duke,” said the Prince. “What is that?” the King asked.

“First, we will tell everyone that the cost of our products will go up soon,” said the prince.

“How will that help?”

“Don’t you see, they will buy more at lower prices than they will soon pay,” said the prince. “Our sales will go up.”

“What about the year after” asked the King?

“Well… in my previous Kingdom, we also put new things up for sale. That brought us more business; people are always looking for new shiny things” said the Prince.

“Are you sure that both these things will increase the wealth and keep people happy?”

“Absolutely” said the Prince.

He also thought to himself… “If that doesn’t work, next year, I will be the King.”

Continue Reading

The Best Meal in Town

To a large extent the booze business is in the entertainment industry with food and drink at the core. After a hard day of meetings, conflicts and difficult decisions, then and now, people in the industry go to dinner — partly for business, partly to get to know the local colleagues/adversaries and partly for the meal.

One of the senior Seagram executives was known for his love of Italian food. He was and is a real gourmet, with knowledge of pasta, sauces and the differences among regional Italian cuisines.

One day he found himself in Montgomery Alabama on a market visit. It was a long day of meetings with the trade, consumers and local Seagram people.

At the end of the day, the Seagram manager said in a southern drawl, “Mr. Smith, it’s been a long, hard day and I know how you enjoy your eye-talian food and ah’ve arranged for us to have dinnah at the best eye-talian restaurant in Montgomery.”

“Really?” said the worn-out exec. “Where are we going?”

“The best place in town…Olive Garden.”

Continue Reading

Charity Follow Up

A very close and dear friend from the Seagram days told me the following story about another charitable dinner event that I’d like to share…

One of the Seagram companies in the past was Four Roses and they had a metro New York manager named Nick Cotter. Nick was not only an ex-cop in NYC but he had been shot five times in a police action/raid. He nearly died and in fact was taken for dead if not for the persistence of an emergency medic.

After months and months of recovery and rehabilitation Nick was on his feet and decided on a new line of work. Four Roses hired him. Nick turned out to be very important to Seagram inasmuch as he became a conduit to the police and fire departments when things needed to get done. (More about this at another time.)

Well, as the story goes, shortly after joining the company he was at a charity dinner. But, in those days there were no pre-meeting to announce your “gift” – you were expected to announce it publicly in a ballroom with 500+ people.

As they were going down the list, someone from Schenley was called and announced, “Schenley Distillers is proud to donate one million dollars.”

Nick Carter, who didn’t know what to expect or make of this event in the first place, was called next. His colleagues were hysterical thinking that they put one over on him.

He stood up, was very calm and announced, “I donate one million and twenty-five dollars from Schenley and Nick Cotter.”

The room erupted in laughter.

Continue Reading