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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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If you've never drunk a drop in your life, what's happening at Miller still matters to you.

SABMiller, or as we all call it, Miller Brewing Company, touches so many aspects of life in Milwaukee, regardless of whether you ever tip back a High Life.

Miller sponsors everything from the Brewers, to Summerfest, to your church picnic. It seems no fundraiser or festival is too small for the company to have a presence. That's important. Think beyond that, as well. How about Miller Free Rides, where the brewery chips in to sponsor free bus rides on big drinking nights. Think how many drunks that takes out from behind the wheels.

My point... somebody's still going to make Miller Lite, et. al. What really matters here to us is what kind of corporate citizen will MillerCoors be? The answer to that question will be known in time, and will likely have a lot to do with where the suits live.

It's all about where the corporate offices will be located. Frankly right now that looks like not here, unless you think the Coors family is moving from Colorado.

SABMiller is technically based in London, though there's still a huge corporate contingent here in Milwaukee. Under the proposed merger, Pete Coors (you know him... he does the commercials... pictures below) becomes the chairman of the new company, and another Coors guy, is slated to become the CEO of the joint operation. I'm sure they're good beer guys, who don't give a flying H.O.G.'s care about who sponsors the St. Somebodyorother's annual fun-fair in West Allis or Wind Lake.

I'm not saying they're bad guys, and they won't throw a bone around here or there to Milwaukee. It sounds like this will still be the place where the brew is crafted. I'm just saying for the corporate suits, they're most likely to invest in the communities in which they personally live. The more of them who call Milwaukee home, the more likely we are to see corporate cash thrown around town.

Jobs is the other big deal in all this. We had a spokesman for Miller on with us this morning on Live at Daybreak. He gave us a "not clear" on the corporate headquarters, and a "too early to tell" on specific job cuts that may or may not be visited upon the Milwaukee operation. He did say the intent at this time, was to continue Brewing Miller here in Milwaukee.

Here's something to watch, however. Cuts are coming. The joint venture, they say, will result in a cost savings of $500 Million. That's half a billion dollars! That's got to come from somewhere. According to the Associated Press report the savings will come from, among other things, "...optimizing production and eliminating duplicate corporate and marketing services."

Read: people are going to lose their jobs. They're the most expensive resource, and the most easily expendable.

When SAB took over Miller years ago, we had all of these same concerns, and I'd say it worked out okay. Miller has remained a good corporate citizen, and it's still Milwaukee's Beer. This merger could make Miller stronger, and provided these other concerns work out in our favor, that makes Milwaukee stronger. I'm for that, no matter what we're drinking.




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