Posts Tagged ‘Guinness’

Artisan and things we believe in

August 16, 2015

Artisan cheeses

Many years ago (in the late eighties/early nineties) I was the general manager of a Guinness owned company in Cork called Deasy’s. We manufactured soft drinks and we distributed beer and soft drinks to pubs, off licences and shops in Cork and Kerry.

We took great pride in our own soft drinks, which to this day are still fondly remembered by people in Cork. Our Deasy’s Orange and Red lemonade were big favourites. Well before my time they even manufactured their own beers and there was one called Wrestler (pronounced ‘rastler’), which people used mention to me.

For years we had been accepting falling volumes in our own soft drinks sales as there was a well accepted principle that it was all about ‘big brands‘ and that these would eventually wipe out all the other smaller brands. The belief was that there was nearly no point in trying with your own products.

As a former accountant for the company I could see the big margins and profitability that these products contributed compared to the products we bought in from other suppliers and I couldn’t see the logic in just letting them drift so we took a different approach.

Guinness - Pension Dispute

We felt that the branding had gone stale and did not reflect the quality of the products so we rebranded including an upgrade of all the packaging. We investigated in an advertising campaign and we also introduced an incentive programme for the customers.

Immediately the results started to shine through with increased volumes but there was also a renewed energy with the sales team who took great pride in their own products and were motivated by us investing in them. The sales pitch to the trade was relatively easy – they were manufactured locally using the best of ingredients and the quality was superb. However many still preferred the big well known brands such as Club Orange and Schweppes.

In a way we were selling ‘artisan‘ products at the time except we didn’t have this label for them and in any case it would not have been the selling point that it is today.

Sadly Deasy’s was merged into another larger Guinness subsidiary a few years later and the manufacturing plant was shut down and these much loved brands were allowed to disappear without a trace.

Phil Cullen Mountain Man Brewing

The Artisan Era

Now we are all about ‘artisan‘ products.

Artisan is defined as “a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods“.

These now trendy products are unique, special, something made with loving care and most importantly they are something that we can believe in. We believe that these products are superior in quality and in some ways we can even accept little imperfections as they can confirm the somewhat ‘homemade‘ attributes that prove we are not consuming products that are mass produced. Retailers who are sharp make themselves unique and believable by stocking ‘artisan’ products, which adds to their overall offering.

Artisan is so much in vogue (and selling!) now that even large companies are trying to make us believe that their products are also artisan – check out the recent Guinness adverts for example.

Guinness advert

I strongly believe that one of the reasons for the popularity of artisan products is that when the recession kicked in there was a huge rejection of the ‘excess‘ that was so prevalent during the Celtic Tiger.

We desperately wanted to get back to things that were real and authentic; this included our food, our drinks, our restaurants, pubs and even our service providers no matter who they are. We had lost faith in so many things that we needed to be able to believe once again.

No matter what you do, try to give your customers an artisan service

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

“Done it all before” versus a fresh perspective and sparkle

January 25, 2015

Bored Accountant

I left the accountancy practice because I knew I had gone stale, working on the same clients in the same environment and now I wanted to get stuck in and get more involved so I decided to move into industry.

I started with Moog, an American multinational at the age of 22 taking on the role of financial accountant, reporting into the financial controller.

I didn’t have experience of working for a multi-national before but I was a bright, enthusiastic qualified accountant looking for a new challenge.

For six months I was learning, soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that initial period I really got into gear and they got the best of me. The financial controller went off on maternity leave after I was there just over a year and I was asked to take on her role and mine – not a bother, I took it in my stride. When she came back I knew I couldn’t slip back to the supporting role so I looked for a new challenge.

I then took on the role of financial controller of a drinks wholesaler and manufacturer, a subsidiary of Guinness.

I didn’t have experience of working in the drinks sector before but I had worked in practice and I had been the financial controller in a large multinational. For six months I was learning and soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that they really got the best of me.

Music Store

After a few years in this role I was going stale, I was repeating myself and the job was more of the same. I had always wanted to start my own business and I loved music so I recruited a manager and opened a few music stores around the country while I still stayed working. I had never worked in the music industry before nor had I operated retail stores but I brought a fresh perspective and bucket loads of enthusiasm to this new experience.

Out of the blue I was asked if I was interested in the General Manager role, which I gladly accepted.

I didn’t have the experience of managing a large business but I was a bright, enthusiastic person with a good understanding of the company and I had a solid background in finance.

For six months I was learning, soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that period they really got the very best of me achieving the best results ever for the company.

Guinness

I then moved to Guinness in Dublin taking on a number of different roles, none of which I had done before bringing fresh eyes and a new perspective to all of them.

After three years I became the general manager of a subsidiary of Heineken bringing fresh eyes and a new perspective to the role. I really drove on the performance of the company but in truth I had done a similar role for the Guinness subsidiary and after three years I was getting bored and I should have moved on. I lasted two more years and left to join Deirdre Waldron at Fuzion, which has been brilliant.

Everyday in Fuzion we are faced with new situations and fresh challenges. We often work with new clients from different sectors and we achieve great results by bringing fresh eyes, new perspectives and enthusiasm and applying all of our collective experience and learnings to their challenges.

I have learned in my 32 years of working that to get the best of anyone in a role there must be some element of a challenge in it, something new the whole time that keeps them challenged, fresh, inspired and motivated and at the top of their game.

I have also learned that after a while of doing the same thing over and over people will get stale as that sense of challenge disappears. Despite having all of the experience and knowledge a big opportunity will be lost by not handing over the mantle to someone who knows less but has a sparkle, a freshness, a hunger and a desire to learn and take on a new challenge.

The next time you are choosing someone for a role or you are putting your project out for contract try to resist the safe temptation of going with the person or the company that have “done it all before” and instead look for the fresh perspective and grab that sparkle.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Career changing photographs

April 6, 2014

Tommy Doyle, High Court Case against Guinness

I walked out the door of the High Court with my good friend, Tommy Doyle and out jumped a photographer.

Before I knew it Tommy put his arm around me and “snap” the photo was taken, which appeared in national newspapers the following day as they covered Tommy’s high profile High Court case against Guinness, which had been settled on the day.

This court case was very high profile with the media as Tommy Doyle was a former Kerry GAA star with seven All-Ireland medals and here he was taking on the might of Guinness in a constructive dismissal case with strong suggestions of a price fixing cartel, which was a potential time bomb for the industry.

When I was General Manager of a Guinness subsidiary in Cork, Deasy & Co., Tommy was our very brilliant sales manager and a really great guy to work with. You could see all of those motivational traits and steely determination which brought him huge success on the field transferring to the business arena.

To this day Tommy is the very best sales/relationship manager I have come across.

After I left Deasy’s to take a senior role with Guinness things fell apart with the management of Deasy’s and Tommy. In my view the wrong person was put in charge of the company and instead of working with Tommy he put the boot in and they clashed immediately. I believe they tried to force Tommy out but they underestimated his steely determination to hang in there.

A super effort eventually broke him, which led to a serious bout of sickness and the court case, which was eventually heard the day of this photo.

Unfortunately for Tommy he became one of the most hated man in the drinks industry because of the court case.

On the day of the court case Tommy’s solicitor had summoned nearly every senior player in the drinks industry as witnesses around this price fixing issue. Needless to say this colossal time bomb was of huge concern to Guinness and all other industry players, which they would really want disarmed.

I was at the court case on the day because I was also summoned by Tommy’s solicitor. At the time I was doing well in my early days as General Manager of Nash Beverages, a subsidiary of Heineken. The nervousness was obvious with all of the industry heads who were there.

As the day progressed it was clear that Guinness were making a huge effort to kill this case and were prepared to settle. With my close relationship with Tommy and my good relationship with senior Guinness personnel I ended up being a go-between. Both sides were open to a settlement and this was quickly negotiated with everyone going home late in the afternoon.

This was a huge day for Tommy and when the settlement was agreed he asked would I stay in Dublin for a bite to eat and a chance to chill out.

I decided it was the right thing to do and felt it was ok not to attend a Heineken conference later that evening.

Out we walked and “snap“…that photograph.

The following day the picture appeared in the national newspapers who covered the case and I was politely told in a few quarters that appearing in “the photo” was a big mistake for me.

After that day I must admit I did feel a change of attitude towards me by senior management and a promising start seemed to turn cold despite my input that day, which resulted in a quick conclusion to a case that everyone was relieved with.

Ultimately maybe friendship and loyalty is a better choice than keeping up appearances and other people happy?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

 

Are you having meetings about meetings?

November 12, 2012
Meetings about Meetings

Another meeting ….

I remember sitting in a senior managers meeting getting all stressed out worrying about sales performance – the trend, annualised was worth a fortune to the company but I seemed to be the only one at the meeting getting all worked up!

Why was no one else getting as bothered as I was? They all seemed to be focused on some other issue that just didn’t seem as important to me. Let’s arrange a meeting to discuss this before our next meeting .. Oh my God!

This was Guinness, this was big business and it was management at the very highest level where the stakes were huge – what was I missing?

I had joined from a subsidiary company of Guinness in Cork called Deasy’s – we manufactured our own (quite profitable) soft drinks and distributed beer and soft drinks from the major manufacturers including Guinness. I had moved from the role of Financial Controller to General Manager, I had a lot of autonomy and now I found myself working in St.James Gate for Guinness as part of a large team.

My practical, work hard, do the (what I thought was) right thing, straight forward, no nonsense approach just didn’t seem to be cutting it at this level – in truth, I was struggling and getting very frustrated. I was starting to learn about the concept of meetings about meetings about meetings for the first time and it was driving me bonkers!!

The other thing I started to learn about was life in a large organisation and corporate “politics” and how these high stake personal power games were played out – as I said I was struggling with my very limited tool kit. At this stage in my career I needed to learn other skills to survive and thrive.

One of my big questions was how could these huge organisations succeed with such high stakes where potentially destructive personal politics could dominate and interfere with good constructive, positive work on an ongoing basis?

After three years of working with Guinness I figured out that “Success” happens in big organisations when “agendas” align.

A Senior Manager has a list of items that if he or she achieves them they will make them look good and advance their “personal” journey in the organisation. The Business has a list of items that are a priority and if these are achieved it will be successful. When the managers list and the business list align you get magic and progress is made – often this may not happen enough!

For a long time I thought that a corporate career was for me – I discovered I was wrong! Guinness was a great place to work, I made great friends in my time there, I learnt a huge amount but ultimately meetings about meetings was not for me ..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing and PR firm with offices in Dublin and Cork

Looking after the triangle?

September 9, 2012

Skyscraper workers

He was a really great sales rep working for Guinness out of their Cork office. He had been in the job for a number of years, was very efficient, very intelligent, very successful and was quite popular with his customers.

He was a great asset to the company with his knowledge of the local area, which was a big deal to Guinness as it was very competitive with both Murphy Brewery and Beamish and Crawford located in the city. In his role he would have had a lot of liaison with the various brand teams in Guinness.

This was probably the most competitive patch for Guinness in all of the country. The sales structure in Guinness consisted of sales reps, there were nine regional managers, three divisional managers with an overall Commercial sales director.

As he was highly rated a lot of pressure was being put on him to look for a promotion and move up the corporate ladder. Any promotion would have probably meant a change of location. To most of the team this promotion opportunity, with more seniority, more perks and a bigger pay packet would have been a godsend – our guy had no interest, he was happy in Cork and loved what he was doing.

When this rep’s name came up in conversation in management circles there was always a sense of a “black mark” and a little cloud of disappointment against him because he wasn’t seen as being ambitious enough.

My Triangle Theory!

Triangle Theory

At the widest point of the triangle there are lots of workers. Some of these are ambitious and push themselves up the triangle into more senior jobs with more responsibility.

Above them are even more senior managers and the business owners – at the very top of the triangle there are a select few who earn the big money, are adept at corporate politics and can handle the responsibility and pressure at this level.

Often these guys and gals will have sold themselves for the job, made the big personal sacrifices, possibly relocating themselves and their families and made work their ultimate priority.

For the triangle to work best we need satisfied, happy people at each level – for those who want to push upwards there are opportunities and for those who are happy with their lot they can stay doing what they hopefully enjoy doing.

Isn’t it better having lots of happy sales reps than a bunch of unhappy sales managers?

Sometimes you have to let the Triangle look after itself …

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing & PR firm with offices in Cork and Dublin