Commentary: AB sold to InBevSat, Jul 19, 2008
NOTE: _As a St. Louis native, I was asked to comment on the sale of local St. Louis brewer Anheuser-Busch to European beverage conglomerate InBev. The following are my comments from the thread. _ A couple of things here, AB has been a big STL employer for years sure, but just because they’re big doesn’t mean they’re good. Look at other big employers here; Boeing, AG Edwards and now AB - while they’re headquartered here, they’re not much more than bragging rights for St Louisans - just because they’re based here, they’re far from ‘local’. They’re all multi-national corporations which means the money is a) not staying here and b) is fluid, ready to be munched up by the next corporation up the chain, which leaves the employees as a line item - so much for loyalty. So why should a local market worry about a corporation that doesn’t care about them?
The idea of a local backlash, or a boycott at least in spirit; no matter how big it gets, it’s not going to effect the local workers. Again, think of the money, it’s fluid, it’s global, do you think a few ppl here choosing to switch to Miller are going to make a difference in the amount of workers AB holds on to here? Absolutely not. As long as the price of the stock stays above whatever dollars, they’ll stick. Now if they need to cut expenses somewhere, those same ppl are going to be out on the street tomorrow, but that’s another thread. The local market here can’t be a few drops in the bucket that makes up the global market.
So my point is this, people need to think about not only where they’re spending their money, but where that money goes. I hear about the fact that a new Wal-Mart brings jobs to regions, and thus is a reason to welcome them. I’m sorry but a) those jobs pay a rare few of those employees a working wage b) the products generally aren’t American made, and c) the money doesn’t stay here, save a for a token amount they can build an ad around; it goes to fund the continuation of the homogenization of America where other Wal-Marts put smaller businesses out of the game due to the buying clout that comes from being so big and global. So instead of thinking of things as a boycott, I’d hope people would just see it as a reason to start thinking locally when they buy things. What can they do to show pride in their community, where can they buy from a local merchant where they know their money will truly go towards people in the community.
In the end, while I’m somewhat disappointed by the sale of AB/AG Edwards/ Boeing, that is not really very rational, it’s more emotional. While these corporations may have provided jobs for many in the region, it is no longer a reality to think of that as a permanent thing. The fact is that today corporations turn on a dime in response to the stock price, so the new market realities show that it doesn’t matter how many years a company like AB was owned here, tomorrow is a different day. There is a silver lining to all of this, it’s the rationalization that it’s time for the job market in St. Louis and America to evolve. People don’t work at a company for 50 years anymore, even if they wanted to, the reality is that a few bear years will lead to job cuts, and a possible sale which completely poisons or at least changes the culture of the company. So workers need to be able to adapt to different jobs and always be prepared for ‘what’s next’, to keep themselves in demand of the ever changing job market. Because if they think their “hometown” company is going to take care of them, they should think again.
Thanks for reading, commentary welcome.