Change May Be Brewing

Belgian company takes over Anheuser-Busch

of public affairs for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). According to NBWA and Beer Institute data, U.S. brewing provides nearly 47,000 jobs that pay more than $4 billion in wages, while 91,000 wholesaling jobs pay $5.6 billion.

Anheuser-Busch has three African American-owned U.S. distributors, says Patrick Beauchamp, president of Compton, California-based Beauchamp Distributing Co. (No. 65 on the BE Industrial/service 100 list with $65.2 million in revenues). Beauchamp Distributing and a South Dakota company are the only two black-owned Miller distributors, Beauchamp says.

Ces Butner owns Horizon Beverage Co., an Oakland, California, Anheuser-Busch distributor with sales of $24.7 million. Yusef and Jonathan Jackson, sons of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, are part owners of River North Sales and Service, Chicago’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributorship. The third black-owned Anheuser-Busch distributor is in Memphis.

Black-owned beer distributors tend to be small. Would they be swallowed by larger distributors after an acquisition? Beauchamp says he can’t speak for Anheuser-Busch, but because that brewer’s three black distributors are located in predominately African-American inner cities, he doubts the company will be asking them to consolidate with someone else. There was no consolidation of Miller’s two black-owned distributors after the brewer was acquired in 2002.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were up to 14 black-owned beer distributors. “It’s such a tough fight, and then you have a chance to maybe sell out for $20 million or $25 million, it’s pretty hard to turn that down. I’ve turned down offers maybe 50 times,” says Beauchamp, whose daughter, Stacee, is set to succeed him at his 37-year-old business. Given the opportunity, black-owned beer distributors could do a very good job for brewers’ products in some urban areas, Beauchamp says. “I hope that even with this InBev move, Anheuser-Busch-the biggest of all the breweries here in the United States-appoints some African Americans,” says Beauchamp. “They certainly have the wherewithal to make it happen.”

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