From the Field — 14 August 2012

When I first took a job with Hunterdon two and a half years ago, my territory was the South Jersey Shore handling both on-premise (bars and restaraunts) and off-premise (retail) accounts. Growing up in the area I was aware that there weren’t too many places I could go to enjoy quality beer. So this was it, my chance to take the South Jersey Shore by storm and have every bar from Toms River to Mays Landing pouring quality beers. How hard could it be, I thought?

I was equipped with a portfolio of craft beer that in my opinion, was unparalleled by any other distributor’s portfolio in the country and I had the experience. From the time I was fifteen I worked in both retail and nearly every job in a restaurant from dishwasher to bartender. Little did I know how naive I was.

The first day, I went down to Atlantic City and visited a few accounts established by previous sales reps. Although there weren’t many places that we were selling beer to, the few that we were in were some of the most respected restaurants in Atlantic City. Feeling great about the accounts I saw that day, I decided to return for a whole day of cold calling to other bars and restaurants in the area. I figured after a few hours I’d have at least five to ten new accounts pouring delicious craft beer.

Here’s a run down of how that went. I got kicked out of the first account, yelled at by the second account for wasting their time trying to sell them something other than a macro lager and while the third account was very interested, they wanted me to help pay for their TV football package. This went on all day. Keep in mind I hadn’t even gotten a pay check yet.

After getting my teeth kicked in all day, I decided a tall glass of whiskey was in order. Sitting at the bar I saw a gentleman emerge from an office and I assumed he was either the manager or owner. I don’t know why he agreed to an impromptu meeting with me, maybe because he had nothing better to do, or maybe he could tell Atlantic City had just administered an epic beat down on a rookie sales rep. For whatever reason, even though he told me he didn’t like beer, he said he would give it a try.

That’s when it happened, I heard the words that I’ve heard so many times since that cold March day years ago, “This is beer? I didn’t know beer could taste this good.” He only ordered one case but that one case turned into ten cases ordered by the end of the month.

After about six months, I gained tap handles and bottle placements in quite a few establishments. I was then offered a chance to take over a central Jersey territory closer to home, which I took. I hadn’t returned to Atlantic City until April of this year. In the two years since I had been there I was amazed at how much things had changed. Places that had no craft beer when I was working down there now had great selections of IPA, stouts, brown ales and pale ales. The tides are changing in Atlantic City and it’s a great thing to see.

Cheers!

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ashley.stima@gmail.com

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