Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics Jan-Feb 2016

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

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Page 28 of 71

"Talking about the Brown family is like pulling at a ball of string," says Chairman George Garvin Brown IV. "You can unwind it for quite some time." The wine and spirits supplier founded by his great- great-grandfather, George Garvin Brown, as J.T.S. Brown and Bro. in 1870, has undergone countless changes over the decades. But one constant has remained – family control. Close to 160 Brown family "cousins," or fourth, fi fth and sixth generation descendents of the company's founder, are actively engaged with the shareholder group that holds a controlling stake in the publicly traded company. Garvin Brown IV, who assumed his current role in 2007, is only the latest in a long line of Browns in leadership positions at the company. C O N N E C T I N G T H E P A S T T O T H E P R E S E N T George Garvin Brown was born in Kentucky in the 1840s and came to Louisville during the Civil War to complete his high school education. In 1870, he was a pharmaceu- tical salesman who partnered with his half-brother, John Thompson Street Brown, to start his distilling company and fl agship brand Old Forester. He would later buy out J.T.S. Brown and partner with George Forman, who passed away in 1901. George Garvin Brown purchased Forman's share of the company from his widow, but kept the name Brown-Forman. "My great-great-grandfather died a few years before Pro- hibition was enacted," Garvin says. "He had a few children, but only his son Owsley was given control of the company. The other siblings were lucky enough to inherit a little some- thing, and poor Owsley inherited a company in an industry about to be illegal." One of Owsley's sisters moved to California, married a doctor, and put her two children through medical school. Garvin met one of those sons, his second cousin twice removed, in San Francisco about 20 years ago. "He knew George Garvin Brown, who was his grandfather," Garvin says. "Our founder died a long time before I was born, but I can say I've met relatives who knew him, so he's a wonderful fi gure to me. He's a real fi gure to all of us in the family." T H E C U R R E N T G E N E R A T I O N O F L E A D E R S Unfortunately, Garvin never met the grandfather he's named after, who died a few months before he was born (which is why he's named after him, even though Garvin's not the eldest son in his family). "I was raised in Montreal after my parents divorced, and I had a portrait of my grandfather hanging in my bedroom," he says. "It was like a beacon reminding me of what was south of the border. I watched my brother Campbell join the company and saw him traveling all around the world – I was shocked by the opportunities out there. I joined the company at twenty-six because when I was young it was the most successful and exciting business I could imagine." Campbell Brown, also raised in Montreal, began his career at Brown-Forman as an intern in the late 1980s. Following his world tour that Garvin described, which A Vision of Perpetuity BROWN-FORMAN'S FAMILY OWNERSHIP SPANS FIVE GENERATIONS AND 145 YEARS. By Jeremy Nedelka Brown-Forman Fast Facts FOUNDED: 1870 CEO: Paul Varga CHAIRMAN: Garvin Brown IV HEADQUARTERS: Louisville, KY FY2015 NET SALES: $4.10 Billion FY2015 OPERATING INCOME: $1.03 Billion WHISKEY BRANDS: Jack Daniel's, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, Collingwood, Canadian Mist TEQUILA BRANDS: Herradura, el Jimador, Don Eduardo, Pepe Lopez OTHER SPIRIT BRANDS: Finlandia, Chambord, Tuaca, Southern Comfort WINE BRANDS: Korbel, Sonoma-Cutrer January/February 2016 • Beverage Dynamics 29 Portrait of George Garvin Brown (founder). Back row (left to right): W.L. Brown Sr, George Garvin Brown II. Front row (left to right): Robinson Brown Jr., Owsley Brown I, Robinson Brown Sr.

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