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Top 100 CEO: Larry Anfin of Coors Distributing

Larry Anfin

Photo by Alyson Peyton Perkins

Scott Nishimura
snishimura@bizpress.net

Larry Anfin, with his three brothers, earlier this year sold the company representing the only thing he says he’s ever done: sell beer.
But Anfin, who was chief executive at Coors Distributing Co. of Fort Worth, overseeing sales and the management team, says he’s not planning on retiring at just 54.
“I’ve got to go find something else to do,” he says. “This is not retirement.”
Anfin’s grandfather John McMillan, co-founded the company in 1966 and died in 2001. The brothers – Larry, Randy, Tim and Danny –sold it this year to Andrews Distributing for undisclosed terms; Andrews and Ben E. Keith Co. now control the Fort Worth beer distribution market.
Anfin, the Fort Worth Business Press’ top private-company CEO for 2014, sat down for a Q&A with The Business Press.

How long did you work at Coors Distributing?
I started in recycling [at the company] in 1974 when I was in high school. So on and off for about 40 years.

What are the chief differences between the company back then and of today?
We just had just one brand of beer and four packages to sell. When we sold, we probably had 300-plus packages we were selling and about 90-100 brands of beer.

How about growth in clients?
We had over 3,000 customers. I imagine we had about half that a long time ago.

What’d you like about selling beer?
You know exactly what your customer base is. You’ve got cash when you sell beer. There’s no credit [thanks to state law]. Greatest law in the history of mankind. We didn’t have an accounts receivable department. We had a person or two, but it’s not like you have to bill anybody.

Coors Distributing was known for its community involvement. How did that happen?
My grandfather was extremely involved in the community. As time went on, we had to decide what we wanted to do, and what we didn’t want to do. And so some of those things he was doing, we went ahead and did, and other things just came along after. I don’t know how he did it all, because he wouldn’t just send people to go and do it. He would do it, too.

Do you expect Andrews to do as much in Fort Worth?
They’re just going to have to find their way. Of course, they were already the Miller distributor five or six years; they’re familiar with the community. I think they’ll do a lot of it. I don’t think they’ll do it all. And they probably shouldn’t. To us, this was our home base.

How about employees? Was Andrews able to retain everybody?
I think we had about 50 people who didn’t get job offers, which was the worst part of the whole thing. One hundred fifty to 160 people were retained. Your largest cost is labor; you don’t need two of everybody.

So as you look ahead to what’s next, do you have a non-compete with Andrews?
No non-compete. There’s no such thing as a non-compete in the distributing business. But the thing is, those two guys [Andrews and Ben E. Keith] got pretty much all the brands.

What are you doing now?
Honestly, I didn’t really want to sell our company, so I didn’t really have a plan. I was the executor of my grandfather and my mom’s estate. As executor, you have to entertain offers. We had been approached a few times. This time, my brothers just wanted to move on. I’m still helping them close things out. I go in a little bit each day. Not that I’m working very hard.

Have you got any ideas for what to do next?
There’s a couple of deals we’re looking at. One of them we may do. We’ll probably decide in the next month. Then we’ve got some fantasy ideas.

Can you say anything specific?
Everything is a startup, and then we’re looking at one existing business. It’s a production company, it’s not a distributor.

Is the existing business in the food and beverage segment?
Yes, it is.

How about your nonprofit involvement? You were volunteering the other day at the Future Farmers of America convention in Fort Worth.
[Taking out a spreadsheet of his 21 volunteer affiliations, including chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, Anfin jokes: ] It’s not like I’m doing anything. I’m just not working. I’d still like to do something. It just doesn’t have to be anything huge.

What’s your favorite beer, other than Coors?
Coors and Coors Light are my favorite. The craft beers, maybe a half of one is fine. Some of those styles, they hop ‘em up and stuff, but I can’t drink them.

 

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