Former MillerCoors GM Jim Kanter confident in Molson Coors’ resilience

For 14 years Jim Kanter called MillerCoors, the previous name for the American unit of Molson Coors Beverage Co., home. 

On Wednesday Kanter, the current chief operating officer at Sprecher Brewing Co. in Glendale, faced the incredible sadness of his former home facing a workplace shooting that left six Molson Coors employees dead, including the shooter.

“It’s such a terrible tragedy. I just want to give everyone over there a big hug because they need it, and we’re one community. I have a lot of very good friends there. It’s just incredible sadness,” he said in an interview with the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Despite many competing breweries throughout southeastern Wisconsin, Kanter said the brewing industry in Milwaukee is close. It’s a competitive industry, “which is what makes it so fun,” he said, “because everybody has so much pride and passion in their brand.”

With many breweries being involved in the same associations and organizations, using the same suppliers and even having the same customers, it takes an emotional toll, Kanter said.

Kanter and Sprecher Brewing, along with many other breweries in the city, want to help Molson Coors (NYSE: TAP) as the company grieves and moves forward from the tragedy. Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley announced via an email to his employees that the Milwaukee corporate offices and Miller brewery would be closed through the remainder of the week.

“What I would just want to do is follow Molson Coors’ lead on this,” Kanter said. “What is the best thing that they need rather than us guessing in this? We want to be a support to them and we want to try to bond together as one big community to support what their biggest needs are.”

Kanter said if Molson Coors were to need office space or other resources in the brewery world, Sprecher would offer to help.

“I want to follow what they need and just be a part of the solution rather than creating more noise and stress and everything else for them because they have so much going right now,” he said.

The workplace shooting hits close to home for Kanter with the realization in could happen anywhere including in the Glendale brewery. Kanter said he has talked with the Glendale Police Department about how the Sprecher brewery can increase security and how the brewery can work with them.

Along with the manufacturing facilities, Sprecher also has an open taproom and retail environment. 

“What are the things we can do to make sure we keep that same environment, but we also provide the best security for everybody?” Kanter said.

With two days of closed operations at the Miller Brewery, Kanter said there is a certain element of complexity, especially with what Molson Coors has to do on a day-to-day basis. He said the closed operation will cause some pinch points for Molson Coors.

Kanter, however, is not concerned about the company’s abilities to succeed. They’ll figure it out, he said. 

“I know how good that team is over there having worked with them and knowing them. They will absolutely have a plan to get through it and make it through,” he said.

Kanter said the Milwaukee brewing community is one big community, which is deserving of one “big hug” amidst the tragedy.

“We hope to get back to some normalcy with them and having that competition with them on the street together. Obviously in due time. With that time, we want to make sure that we’re supporting 100% of anything they need,” he said.

Margaret Naczek, Milwaukee Business Journal

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