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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44 44 44 Beverage Dynamics • January/February 2016 "My brother Morgan and I have complimented those two im- portant aspects of location and selection by developing product knowledge with our staff and improving our internal systems," Josh says. "As Morgan likes to say, Buster built the road, Rommy expanded it into a highway, and our generation is turning it into a ten-lane super expressway." Rommy Hammond agrees, and says it was a natural for him to take over when his dad began slowing down. "My son Morgan really didn't want to fi nish college; he wanted to come into the business," Rommy explains. "Then Josh, after he graduated from Alabama, wanted to take six months off and fi nd himself. I told him he could fi nd himself at the store and work for me for six months, then go fi nd himself if he wanted to. He's still there to this day." A S E C O N D T R A N S I T I O N Josh admits that while keeping the business intact has never been an issue, keeping his wits about him is a diff erent story. "Buster's has evolved through two successions," Hammond says. "Both can be described as responsibility takeovers, with the younger generation gradually performing all the duties of the elder generation." But neither transition came without its rumblings. "Buster grumbled constantly about all of dad's wine pur- chases in the 1980s, saying, 'that stuff will never sell,'" Josh says. "Sooner than later, Buster came around. About fi f- teen years ago on a fl ight out of town for a family wedding, I mentioned to dad he should let Morgan handle all the daily ordering - a duty Rommy relished - mainly because the task kept him knowledgeable about inventory, selling trends and store upkeep. "After ordering for 30 years, it just wasn't that easy for him to let it go. The notion really upset my father and the weekend turned out to be miserable. I'll never forget the golf outing as temperaments fl ared. But by Monday morning, he had a huge change of heart when he returned to Memphis, especially after learning a good friend had a stroke. Rommy agreed it time for him to let go of some stress and smell the roses—on the golf course, no doubt." Josh Hammond says the biggest challenge to running a success- ful family business in this industry is communication and being on the same page. And from an operational standpoint, managing employees and turnover are the company's biggest challenges. "While we've enjoyed the long tenures of most of our man- agement team, being a small company means not everyone can move up the ladder," he says. "It's important to remain clear about employment expectations, off er competitive wages, off er meaningful feedback and deliver on benefi ts that can make a lifestyle impact—whether its fl exible scheduling or merely great understanding and compassion from superiors." As the current president, Josh Hammond says setting goals and sharing those accomplishments with the staff are what gets him excited about the business. "While we've grown from a mom and pop environment to a small company with over 45 employees, it's important to recognize we owe our employees much gratitude for our success in represent- ing our family tradition and core values," Hammond says. M E M B E R S O F T H E C O M M U N I T Y Family businesses are undoubtedly the fabric of any commu- nity. The Hammonds have always prided themselves on being involved with many local fundraisers and charities. They also make a concerted eff ort to listen to their customers and meet their needs. "There is no better compliment than customers telling us, 'this is the only place I shop because my family has been shopping here for generations.' It really doesn't get any better than that," Josh says. There is little doubt for the Hammond family that the next big opportunity for Buster's will be opening a second location. "Since we have 30 more years on our lease and I borrowed about $1 million, I hope business is really good," Rommy says. "I have four grandchildren—each son has two children—and hopefully some of them in the future will want to follow in their fathers' footsteps." Maura Keller is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor. She writes for doz- ens of publications on a variety of business-related topics. When not writing, Maura serves as executive director of the literacy nonprofi t, Read Indeed.

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