Find a Survival Strategy

I grew up on a farm, where my mom, a trained teacher and housewife, was a self-taught pig farmer. She relied heavily on the pharmaceutical and feed reps to help her resolve problems in the piggery.

I learned that the agricultural reps often knew more about farming than the farmers themselves and to my surprise these “agric reps”, often ended up buying farms and becoming more successful than their existing farmer customers.

One such example is Charl Senekal, who started as an extension officer and later became a chemical rep in our area. Today, Charl Senekal’s Mkuze Estates is one of the largest privately owned sugarcane producers in Africa and possibly the world.

In my own career as a beer rep, I have always tried to look for ways to learn more about brands and retailing and in turn pass the lessons learned on to my customers.

I realised besides, price lists, there was very little trade information available to retailers and in 2013, I started a website dedicated to helping retailers with product information. In 2014 I published The Beer Book designed to help both consumers and retailers get to grips with this new category. At about the same time I closed my liquor sales and distribution business and decided to dedicate myself to helping retailers and brands with the new opportunities presented by craft and specialist products.

Will I ever know more about retailing than the bottle store owner or the pub owner? I doubt it! But I do know that if independent retailers do not find ways to differentiate themselves from chain stores, they will not survive. I also know that if retailers continue to rely on the big brands, their margins will continue to be under pressure. Even the big groups are feeling the margin pressure on mainstream beer brands and big spirit brands. The overseas bosses of SABMiller and Diageo want to grow turnover at all cost. For how much longer can retailers rely on growing Castle Light and Smirnoff sales? The current prices of mainstream beer are great for consumers – but for retailers – it is like eating soup with a fork! How long can retailers continue? What if another shopping centre, with another chain store opens in your area?

I believe that it is possible to reinvent most retail outlets by introducing new ideas, new products and start marketing your outlet with the new media tools that are available to you.

Holger and Sivi at the Growler Station in Hillcrest Tops

To find out how I can help you visit

Now let us learn more… one way to learn is by listening. I have had the opportunity to learn from many leaders in the industry and I want to give you the opportunity to learn with me. Every week you can listen to an interview with a successful entrepreneur. The best way to listen to these interviews is on your cellphone. If you subscribe, the episodes will automatically download to your device. You can subscribe and listen on an Android or Apple Device. Let me know what you think?

Opportunities in Craft Spirits, Gins and Beer: This category presents an amazing opportunity for retailers. But it takes time and dedication: To find out how I can help you visit