Monday, March 16, 2009

Jim Koch

In 1983, Jim Koch was working as a business consultant, making a good living telling other people how to make profits. But he decided to drop it all to “make and sell quality beer ,” like 5 generations of his family before him had done.

Koch’s father had been driven out of the beer business by the giant brewerys (Anheiser-Busch, etc), and thought Koch’s decision was destined to fail. Using a recipe developed in 1860 in St. Louis, Missouri by his grandfather, Louis Koch, Koch began producing Samuel Adams brand lager. Koch’s strategy was to NOT complete with the big guys – and the only way to do that was to make a superior product. Innovation rules again. Within months of its release, Samuel Adams was recognized as the best beer in America at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. By 2001, Sam Adams beers enjoyed $200 million in sales, and Koch employed 350 people.

In a 2001 interview, Koch said his goal was to grow Sam Adams into "the No. 1 better beer in the United States.” Not only has he done that, but thanks to a series of mergers in the beer industry, including Anheiser-Busch’s merger with InBev, a Belgian-Brazilian company, Samuel Adams is now the largest independent, American-owned brewery left!

According to the Boston Beer Company’s Annual Report, Samuel Adams beers generated over $380 M in revenue in 2007, with profits of S189 M. Despite recent losses in the stock market, the Boston Beer Company still has a market cap of over $270M and employs nearly 500 people. Plus they make a quality beer. You’ve got to root for that.

For demonstrating that by making a quality product, even a little guy can survive (and thrive) in an industry populated by giants, Jim Koch has made his parents proud – and earned the designation as a Hero of Capitalism.

Koch Profile

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