Passion. Dedication. Persistence. Creativity. These are the ideals employed by The Gambrinus Company, a privately held, family-owned business located in San Antonio, Texas—ideals which have guided them in all they do and have also helped brew up a strong commitment to Boot Campaign—and the men and women it serves.
Gambrinus is best known, as owner and brewer of Shiner Beers—the beloved brand, which is brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Notably, Gambrinus also owns the BridgePort Brewery in Portland, Oregon and the Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, California.
Shiner, the treasured, Texas craft brew is currently in 45 states. The plan is to be in 50 by the end of 2014. With such a far reach, and a 105-year-old brand picked up by beer-lovers daily—including a large military market—Boot Campaign and Shiner are becoming a perfect fit.
Having heard about Boot Campaign through the company’s Houston beer distributor, the company, at first, started helping our men and women in uniform by donating product for various events. But, as Charlie Paulette, The Gambrinus Company’s head of marketing explained, it wasn’t until three years ago that the brand stuck their foot into their boots, strapped them on and began leaving permanent bootprints behind.
One of the first efforts to show their support was the purchase of boots for every employee in the company; from the about 100 employees at Spoetzl Brewery; to the 30 employees in San Antonio. Even Carlos Alvarez, the company’s owner, put his boots on for the day to show his support.
“We got our boots on and that was our first step. Essentially, every Shiner Beer employee put on his or her boots that day. Then, we went around and captured everybody doing their job with their boots on and then took a photo in front of the brewery. We did the same at the business office,” Paulette explained.
Next on tap, and continuing to put their ideals to work, the company came up with a cross-promotional campaign called, “Toast Our Troops” that launched on Veterans Day 2011. Boot Campaign’s website explains the first event was simply one day, in one town, but the response was enormous and plans were made to expand the concept in 2012. The second year, the campaign amped up by adding, the “Toast Our Troops” marketing to packaging, displays, trucks, and more bars throughout the southwest region. The Boot Campaign explained that the results surpassed the bar set in 2011 and provided critical funding for its initiatives.
According to the website, 2013’s campaign was also a huge success. “Sales of Shiner’s specially marked ‘Toast Our Troops’ packages generated almost $35,000 for the Boot Campaign. Moreover, Shiner’s distributor partners raised $22,000 through their local fundraising efforts and the brewery matched donations from their wholesalers, bringing the total contribution to the Boot Campaign via ‘Toast Our Troops’ to $78,650,” it explained.
Since Shiner began its commitment to Boot Campaign, other companies have also provided support, such as Walmart and the San Antonio-based, supermarket chain, HEB Grocery Company, Paulette noted. But probably the most important show of support for the company is that of the military itself. The military’s enthusiasm and appreciation for Shiner getting behind the organization has been an immense motivation. Paulette thinks the connection works because of an important common factor between the two—that of a long-standing presence within a huge military community—one, which takes Shiner wherever it ends up in the world.
“I think the thing that’s most important to us is that Shiner has been around for 105 years. It’s one of the oldest breweries in America. Because of where it’s located and because it’s been around for so long, we actually have a very good relationship with the military. It’s really hard to explain, but one of the reasons is that we have so many military bases here in Texas. Because of that, anyone who is going through basic training is going through Fort Sam. Then, they get exposed to South Texas. Then, if they’re in South Texas, they get exposed to Shiner. The same thing is true with Fort Hood. They come to South Central Texas; then they get exposed to Shiner because it is obviously a beloved brand. Then those people who started here for basic training get stationed in Europe or they go to other places around the world. If you take that and you multiply it times all of the years we’ve been brewing beer, and all the years that the military has been around, we find that if they’re in the military, nine times out of 10, they know about Shiner. So we have a connection with the military that, I think, is very unique to our brewery versus other breweries in the United States. So, by getting involved with this, it allows us to send back our thanks,” he explained.
Continuing their efforts to serve our service men and women, Shiner also came up with the Shiner Beer Run, a 5K run and half marathon at Spoetzl Brewery. In 2013, the event generated a $35,000 donation to the campaign. But, their dedication didn’t end there. Shiner continues to support Boot Campaign through its own initiatives, as well, like the annual Friends with Benefits Concert and the Boot Ride, just to name a couple.
Shiner’s commitment to the Boot Campaign has been enormous, but there is also another key factor that has been building this beer and boots friendship. Since their involvement began, Paulette explained, the company has discovered the unique connections their own employees and distributors have to the military. Even Paulette’s late father was a Marine. Because of connections like these, individual employees are doing their part, now too. This year, one of its retail account managers took part in Push Ups for Charity and raised $10,000 in one day.
“When we started our partnership with the Boot Campaign, we started to get lots of unique stories from employees,” said Paulette. “You start to recognize that everybody is one or two steps removed from somebody who is serving or has served and you begin to recognize why this is so important—it makes you feel good that you can do something.”