In spat, Emerson boycotts A-B beer
By Jeremiah McWilliams
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Thursday, Apr. 16 2009
One of the St. Louis area's largest companies apparently has had enough with
what it perceives as rough treatment by Anheuser-Busch.
Emerson, the Ferguson-based manufacturer of cooling equipment, appliances and
tools, plans to boycott A-B products to protest stingier payment policies and
what Emerson claims are A-B's cutbacks in funding for local nonprofit groups.
According to an internal memo sent to Emerson's business leaders on Tuesday,
Emerson will no longer purchase Anheuser-Busch InBev products for its world
headquarters, Winfield Conference Center, company aircraft, or its suites at
Busch Stadium, Scottrade Center or Edward Jones Dome. The policy is effective
"With the InBev acquisition of Anheuser-Busch we have seen negative things
happening in the St. Louis community and in regard to Emerson doing business
with InBev," according to the memo. "InBev payment terms with Emerson have now
been stipulated as 120 days â€” take it or leave it!"
Before InBev took over Anheuser-Busch last year, the St. Louis brewer paid many
of its accounts in 30 days. But the combined Anheuser-Busch InBev quickly
started taking a tougher line toward suppliers, insisting that it could take as
long as 120 days to pay bills. Anheuser-Busch angered some suppliers and lost
some who couldn't adjust.
In protest of the new regime, all of Emerson's divisions will stop purchasing
Anheuser-Busch InBev products. The memo helpfully provided alternatives: "We
suggest you use Coors, Miller, Modelo (Corona, etc.) or Heineken products."
Anheuser-Busch responded late Wednesday with a lengthy statement. The brewer
said it was surprised and disappointed at Emerson's stance, calling it an
"inaccurate portrayal" of the brewer.
"Emerson's misguided and unfounded comments impact the employees and families
of Anheuser-Busch and our area distributors â€” Lohr, Grey Eagle and Krey
Distributing â€” and their retailers," Dave Peacock, president of Anheuser-Busch
Cos., said in a statement. "Our beers are appreciated by St. Louisans, and
nothing has changed about us, or our beers, that should change their minds.
Suggesting that Emerson's corporate events should be supplied by other brewers
â€” including Heineken and other beers not brewed in St. Louis â€” is surprising
and (a decision) that we believe won't be well-appreciated."
Emerson's ban on Anheuser-Busch's products has little chance of slicing into
the brewer's bottom line. Back when InBev purchased A-B last year, the wrath of
many in St. Louis had a negligible effect on A-B's market share in Missouri.
But coming just months after the deal was completed â€” a transaction that was
followed by massive layoffs and a tougher stance toward suppliers â€” the
symbolism of the rift is jarring. Emerson and Anheuser-Busch have traditionally
The conflict potentially puts August Busch III in an awkward position as well.
Busch, CEO of Anheuser-Busch for more than two decades, is on the Emerson board
of directors. Another former A-B director, Carlos Fernandez, also is on
Emerson's board. Fernandez is CEO of Grupo Modelo, one of the brewers deemed
acceptable under Emerson's new policy.
Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch issued a challenge to Emerson executives.
"As leaders in the St. Louis community, we will continue our commitment and
would expect that Emerson would do the same," Peacock said. "We hope Emerson
will join us in committing $2 million to the St. Louis United Way, as we
committed to months ago after the (InBev) transaction closed."
Even before A-B responded, Emerson seemed a bit taken aback when questioned by
"We wish Anheuser-Busch InBev and their St. Louis-based employees every
success," the company said in a statement Wednesday. "This was intended to be
an internal matter, and we regret that it became a public issue. We have
nothing further to add."
Guppy, don't you work for these guys?
I especially liked the part about Inbev shitting on the St. Louis community.