Gordon Green says the beverage industry is in his blood. Check his veins and one might find Gallo wine, Pepsi, Coke, Arizona tea, Miller-Coors, a 3.2 percent craft beer or a stronger brew. Green's nearly quarter-century career in the beverage industry has had him representing all of the above — and more.
For the past decade, the Illinois native has served as general manager/partner of Capital Distributing LLC. The company, formed in April 2001 with the merger of Beverage (Miller) and Coors Distributing Co., employs 170 and — with its affiliates and tenants, 6 Point Beverages and Oklahoma Beer Imports, in its 156,000-square-foot facility at 421 N Portland — does more than $80 million in annual revenues.
Capital, Green said, is the registered distributor for several brands, including 3.2 percent Coors-Miller beer, in eight counties: Oklahoma, Canadian, Logan, Lincoln, Grady, Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie.
“It's all about growing and building brands,” he said. “It's fast-paced and extremely competitive.”
Green, 47, sat down with The Oklahoman Monday to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:
Q. Tell us about your roots.
A. I grew up 35 miles north of Chicago in Lake Zurich, Ill.; the population was 6,400. My father, who died in '93, was a commercial airline pilot and worked as vice president of flight operations for what today is Delta. My mom, who lives in southern California where her late parents started mobile home parks years ago, was a full-time homemaker. There are three of us kids; all adopted. I'm the youngest and have a sister, three years older, and brother, six years older. Thanks to the power of emailing and texting, we're all still close today.
Q. What are some of your fondest childhood memories?
A. Our home backed to a lake, so we did a lot of water skiing and entertaining, including hosting middle school and high school graduation parties. My mom didn't know how to cook for three or four, only 15 or more. She's still that way today.
Q. And college?
A. At 6-foot, 5-inches tall, I excelled in high school football and basketball, and had offers to play college ball in both sports. I chose a full-ride football scholarship to the University of Illinois, where I played two years tight-end and three years as offensive linebacker. We went to the Rose Bowl my freshman year and Peach Bowl my junior year.
Q. What were your first jobs, post-graduation?
A. With a political science degree, you either went on to law school or into sales and I, obviously, chose the latter. Following graduation, I worked two and half years in sales and sales management for Gallo Wine Co. in southern California, and then nine years in various sales positions for Pepsi, in five different southern California locations. After I married, my wife Jodi and I decided to move back to the Midwest, to Illinois, to raise our kids. For the bulk of the six years there, I managed two Coca-Cola distributorships.
Q. What brought you to Oklahoma?
A. I was hand-picked for a one-person Miller-Coors executive management development program, which groomed me for a position such as this one. I trained at 20 sites and was paid as if I already was running a distributorship. I learned about culture, operations, finance and more. At the end of the program, I took what amounted to an oral exam before the senior leadership team of Miller-Coors.
Q. What did Jodi, your West Coast wife, think about moving to Oklahoma?
A. Not much at first. It was before Thunder and what Chesapeake is now, so Oklahoma — in her eyes — was the weather channel and she hates tornadoes. But after relocating, we both were extremely surprised and pleased, and have no desire to move.
Q. I understand you're the newly-elected president of the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma. What are some of your goals?
A. It's the association's 75th anniversary, and I want to focus on continuing to educate consumers and public policymakers about beer regulations. Distributors, which sell more than 1,300 beer brands, are accountable for compliance with all federal, state and local laws. Oklahoma is among only five states — including Colorado, Utah, Kansas and Minnesota — that sell 3.2 percent beer. But Oklahoma sells the bulk of 3.2 beer among those five states: 56 percent. Of Oklahomans' beer consumption, 89 percent is 3.2 percent beer; likely because that's the only beer you can get cold and on the run. To clarify: 3.2 percent is a measurement of the amount of alcohol by weight; the equivalent by volume, which is how all beer is marketed in liquor stores nationwide, is 4 percent. It's only a matter of time that the country will move to a single-strength beer by volume.