The big task of getting beer from the warehouse to your neighborhood store

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Ever wonder how the beer people enjoy while watching a football game gets from the warehouse to the store? As it turns out, it's quite a process.

Picking up a case of beer on Game Day is the easy part. The hard part is to actually get it to the store, from the warehouse.

"The number of people who engage with the product to get it on the shelf, where somebody can pick it up on Game Day, is huge," said Chad Marston with Hensley Beverage Company. "It is an endless line. Logistics, distribution, sales, financing, operations that have to touch the product to get it there."

Hensley delivers Budweiser beer in Arizona. There are five warehouses across the state, and the one near Indian School and 45th Avenue in West Phoenix is the biggest. The warehouse is over 200,000 square feet, and can hold as many as a million and a half cases of beer. A third of that beer will be Bud Light.

The beer comes in from Anheuser-Busch breweries all over the country, from Los Angeles, Virginia, or St. Louis, and they are stored at a refrigerated warehouse. The emphasis is on getting it out to the stores quickly, in order to keep it fresh.

"There is a lot happening behind the scenes from brewer to shelf, and it requires complicated logistical programming to make that happen," said Andy McCain with the Hensley Beverage Company. "Routing to here, receiving of beer, reloading of truck, and make sure all the stores in right amounts and maintain highest level of freshness in our beer." 

The warehouse is a beehive of activity pretty much all the time, and the busiest moments are in the wee hours of the morning, a time when most of us are asleep.

"You've got a ton of people picking forklifts, moving picker group, builds pallets, loading group in truck, rotate through first run at 4:3,0 5:30, then another after that overnights. 3 or 4 in the morning, it is a busy place," said Marston.

There's a lot of Bud Light and Bud, but they are not the only brands. Craft beers and other beverages, including non-alcoholic drinks and water, are a growing part of the business, and make up a full 10% of deliveries.

As for the Hensley Beverage Company, they started over 60 years ago with a few dozen people on the payroll. Now, there are 1,200 on the payroll, and the grandchildren of some early employees now call Hensley home themselves.

So, what keeps the business going? A sense of family and a sense of fun.

"We have a big slogan in the beer business that August Busch said many years ago: making friends is our business," said McCain. "It is what we do. We sell beer for a living for crying out loud."

Hensley Beverage Company also operates warehouses in Chandler, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Show Low.

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