SweetWater cleans house. Buyout coming?

Discussion in 'South-Atlantic' started by raveskdr, Jan 10, 2015.

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  1. raveskdr

    raveskdr Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Virginia

    So, yesterday was a black Friday of sorts for SweetWater. They got rid of half of their sales force throughout their entire territory. In DC/VA, they got rid of 4 of the 5 reps. In Florida, they eliminated 3 of 5. They axed the entire Ohio crew (they just rolled out there a few months ago). It is incredibly odd timing seeing as they sold a chunk of the brewery to a private group 4 months ago (http://www.brewbound.com/news/sweetwater-sells-minority-stake-to-tsg-consumer-partners).

    I've been in the industry for around 5 years and I've NEVER seen anything like this happen. Definitely interesting though. Anyone in ATL hearing anything?
  2. kylelenk

    kylelenk Initiate (0) Apr 17, 2012 Michigan

    MillerCoors I bet.
  3. RDMII

    RDMII Disciple (385) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    Lot of rumors around but no data as of yet.
  4. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Champion (863) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    News to me... I wouldn't be surprised though..
  5. raveskdr

    raveskdr Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Virginia

    Elaborate? Very curious.
  6. TonyLema1

    TonyLema1 Poo-Bah (1,826) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    I'm not a huge fan of SweetWater, but I hate to see folks lose jobs
  7. CBlack85

    CBlack85 Defender (683) Jul 12, 2009 South Carolina

    I enjoy several of Sweetwaters offerings, I hope they are not looking to sell out

    SILVER Initiate (170) Jan 3, 2007 Florida

    That usually happens when investors buy out a company. Regardless of what they tell the crew when they arrive for the first meeting.
    flabeer likes this.
  9. brentk56

    brentk56 Poo-Bah (10,311) May 13, 2004 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    My guess is that there is a change in the distribution strategy as a result of connections that TSG brings through its relationships in the beverage industry, where they have a lot of experience. They are currently investors in PBR and I would expect that they intend to add the Sweetwater brands to that distribution network, just as we have seen other macro breweries do when they have acquired craft breweries. See Goose Island as an example.
    #9 brentk56, Jan 11, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
    Sayson likes this.
  10. lateralusbeer

    lateralusbeer Zealot (509) Feb 7, 2010 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    If their strategy is to sell through distributors without brand-specific salespeople, they have the wrong strategy.
    rgordon and raveskdr like this.
  11. ben4unc

    ben4unc Initiate (185) Feb 28, 2013 North Carolina

  12. NoMoreBeerBelly

    NoMoreBeerBelly Initiate (147) Dec 2, 2009 North Carolina

    Probably just major shift in strategy. Cutting dead weight and a lot of times these shifts come with a "relocate or leave" option for those that weren't dead weight.
  13. raveskdr

    raveskdr Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Virginia

  14. Dil_thebeerdrinking_do

    Dil_thebeerdrinking_do Disciple (311) Jan 21, 2014 Georgia

    If they sell out I will no longer buy. Hell I hardly drink it now.
    azorie likes this.
  15. abb610

    abb610 Aspirant (253) Oct 14, 2010 North Carolina

    I noticed where they expect the rep to work 20-29 hours. Of course this means these positions are considered part time and dont come with needed benefits that I am guessing that position had last week. I hate the corporate mentality squeeze. Fuck em!! Looks like i just drank my last sweetwater jpa.
    brawleys, fehrminator and jmw like this.
  16. marvin213

    marvin213 Disciple (386) Nov 12, 2008 North Carolina

    Makers of 420 and Hop Hash (alcohol manufacturers, no less) provide for a "drug-free" workplace...?
  17. brentk56

    brentk56 Poo-Bah (10,311) May 13, 2004 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Things will be just a little bit different there now with TSG's involvement as a major investor. We won't see any more donkey punches.
  18. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,065) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Sweetwater is to me an uninteresting brewery. I'm sorry about the lost jobs, but they have seen their best days already. I honestly have never bought any and never will.
    DWheeler379 likes this.
  19. itsmetimd

    itsmetimd Initiate (116) Jan 28, 2009 Georgia

    I've said for a while that it seemed like they were posturing for a sellout but everyone told me I was crazy. They've been pounded Facebook with the job postings and I keep giving them grief over their unpaid internships.

    I would be more surprised if a buyout wasn't coming in the near future.
  20. samtallica

    samtallica Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2010 North Carolina

    I can get a 6 pack of IPA or 420 for $7. It's hard to find that kind of quality at that price. Their seasonals and one offs are usually delicious as well. They're not brewing barrel aged imperial sours, but their beers are damn good, especially for the price.
  21. shand

    shand Meyvn (1,447) Jul 13, 2010 Florida

    KyleT8 likes this.
  22. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,065) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I don't intend to be a curmudgeon, but I just don't need to give them my business.
  23. samtallica

    samtallica Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2010 North Carolina

    I actually heard about this the other day. I guess I should've added the word "regularly" to that statement.
  24. djben

    djben Initiate (48) Sep 4, 2013 Florida

    I just read the job description.

    It reads as an entry-level marketing position and would get someone 30-50K salary + benefits in pretty much any other industry.
  25. brentk56

    brentk56 Poo-Bah (10,311) May 13, 2004 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    They effectively did the buyout when TSG made their investment last September. Most private equity firms like TSG invest with a three to five year horizon.
  26. unionturf

    unionturf Aspirant (278) Sep 30, 2007 North Carolina

    I hate the damn Government that passed laws that forced businesses into this model...this isn't a corporate mentality, it's what businesses are being forced into. :slight_frown:
    TheChef18, GABrew, gopens44 and 2 others like this.
  27. brstls4drmrs

    brstls4drmrs Zealot (519) Jan 30, 2011 North Carolina

    it's a new marketing strategy called an oxymoron.
  28. brawleys

    brawleys Initiate (0) May 7, 2004 North Carolina

    Sweetwater's tag line "Don't float hte mainstream" yet when they came to the Charlotte market they cut a deal to distribute exclusively with the big box accounts, purposely excluding ALL independent retailers for a month. Nice gift to Total Wine and Harris Teeter, and about as "mainstream" as you could be. Never sold a bottle of Sweetwater. Not one.
  29. BrewDogBarley

    BrewDogBarley Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2014 Georgia

    I have heard rumors and only rumors that AB Imbev may be looking at them. Just rumors.
  30. DWheeler379

    DWheeler379 Initiate (195) Jun 15, 2012 Colorado

    I wonder if that's TSGs goal with their investment.
    And good on YA, Mike. I certainly wouldn't go to your shop to buy SweetWater and don't think I've bought a beer from them in NC in a few years. Not long ago 420 was the best option at a non-craft bar/restaurant. Glad that has been remedied. Never cared for the beer or the company's schtick. Sounds like their business practices aren't great, either.
  31. stevefarace

    stevefarace Initiate (102) Mar 3, 2006 Georgia

    sorry you feel this way, but i was part of the Charlotte launch and that is 100% not what our strategy was. We have always made the beer available to any retailer that was interested when we launch. in the past we've had to temper our wholesaler's enthusiasm when we launch a market to make sure we could keep supply up with demand, but have never told any wholesaler to only target certain segments - or big box stores only
  32. stevefarace

    stevefarace Initiate (102) Mar 3, 2006 Georgia

    Its true we did eliminate a few sales roles recently and unfortunately lost some really good people in the process, but over all our head count in the field is actually expanding. We are in the process of hiring more seasoned folks who can manage multiple markets and states, and then we also created an entirely new field marketing division. We are learning as we are growing. With opening 2 states in the last couple months, and eyeing 3 more within the next few we took a step back and thought about the best way to grow and manage our business.
    Ohio has been a fantastic launch and none of the people we're eliminated, we have 6 folks working for SweetWater in the state and in actuality we've learned a ton from it. These moves are not posturing for anything aside from getting better as a business and trying to be a smarter company as we grow.
    Last thing we want is to lose are the connections at retail or in the community that we've spent 18 years building.
    azorie and KyleT8 like this.
  33. offtheheezi

    offtheheezi Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2011 North Carolina

    With laying off almost "half" of your sales force, there might be a little bit of a problem with dealing with the bottle shops and bars that have been in your distro for many years. I'm not saying it's fair, but you are going to have to expect some backlash.

    raveskdr likes this.
  34. stevefarace

    stevefarace Initiate (102) Mar 3, 2006 Georgia

    of course and agreed
  35. Bfairhurst74

    Bfairhurst74 Initiate (160) Nov 16, 2014 North Carolina

    I own a restaurant in Matthews, NC and was a beer buyer in Asheville for 10+ years before that. I have never had a Sweetwater tap and never will. How can a company say that they are growing when they are cutting jobs? Sounds like a bunch of smoke and mirrors.
  36. brawleys

    brawleys Initiate (0) May 7, 2004 North Carolina

    @ stevefarace You are either ignorant of the facts or lying. Either way same to me either way.
  37. raveskdr

    raveskdr Initiate (0) Oct 10, 2009 Virginia

    Well, if anyone would know, @stevefarace would. That I can assure you of. SW does a very methodical roll out, especially on premise. With bars, they choose a certain number and let them run 420 for the first 30 days. Then choose another set of bars that run IPA. Then they go from there (seasonals and Blue are released on draft once certain distribution goals are hit). With off premise, like your bottle shop, there is a bit more leeway. However, they do have pretty strict rules on cold box placement and how big displays can be (must be turned over every 2 to 3 weeks). Not saying you are lying, just letting you know how it happened when they went North of you.
  38. brawleys

    brawleys Initiate (0) May 7, 2004 North Carolina

    In Charlotte Sweetwater went exclusively with Total Wine, Harris teeter and Lowes Foods. I had multiple conversations with both Sweetwater management and with the management of Caffey distributing, in which i informed them that if they continued to refuse to sell to us that we would never sell their beer. They gave multiple excuses why they were exclusive for the first month with only big box corporations. The best excuse was we dont have enough beer. Ha! We dont have enough beer so we will focus on box stores. Laughable. What added insult to injury was a year or so before they rolled out in charlotte they called me for advise on which distributors i recommended. I spent maybe an hour total on two phone calls talking with someone in management, dont remember his name, while my wife was on the otherside of the door in a hospital bed. Well thank you too Sweetwater. You may not have remembered my assistance, but thats ok. I have quite the memory. Please correct me if im wrong on any of these facts Stevefarace.
  39. siege06nd

    siege06nd Savant (982) Dec 29, 2009 Virginia

    Bring back Summer Hummer, yo!!! @raveskdr
    raveskdr likes this.
  40. funkybottoms

    funkybottoms Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2010 Virginia

    did they fire those cars with "420 brah!" all over them? i would actually start liking them for that.
    herrburgess likes this.
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