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Monday, November 30, 2015

Mary Lewis: Superintendent of Suds

by Blair Loup

Mary Lewis grew up in the small town of Gloster, Mississippi with a graduating class of sixteen people, but growing up in an LSU family, she had her sights set on planting roots in Baton Rouge.

Mary Lewis, Sales Manager at Mockler Beverage Company
Mary Lewis, Sales Manager at Mockler Beverage Company
With a grandfather that played tennis for LSU and an aunt that donned the Golden Girl leotard, Mary jumped at the opportunity to walk on to the women’s basketball team. After her sophomore year, she became a scholarship player for the rest of her college career.

Moving to Baton Rouge, Mary didn’t know anyone and said her early college years were a challenge.

“I went from being the tallest and fastest, to a nobody. Everyday was a competition,” she said.

The lessons of hard work and dedication are some that many of us learn playing recreational sports as kids, but taking that to a college court equipped her with skills she’s used to earn her Sales Manager position at Mockler Beverage where she’s been for the past 17 years.

She began her life after college at LSU with an IT job at a clothing manufacturer. She was looking for a change, and the opportunity presented itself when Mary bumped into Patrick and Shelley Mockler at a hockey game in Lafayette. Shelley had an important position in IT with Mockler at the time, and encouraged Mary to apply.

For five years Mary worked in the IT department until she was nudged in the direction of sales. She moved to “Space” which is one of the most powerful tools for a beverage company.

"Space" is a department that works with a software program that contains data on every product in the way of package size, price, demand, etc. Mockler can build cases and coolers at different accounts and determine profitability and how long supplies will last.

After doing that for a few years, Mary moved into national sales for five years dealing with chains like Circle K. As the company grew, so did Mary’s opportunities.

Now a Sales Manager, she deals with around 120 employees in marketing, distribution, and sales.

“My job now is to motivate my team,” she said. "I don’t want my guys to think I’m just the lady that sits in the office."

During her time at Mockler Beverage, the business has changed completely in terms of products, operations, and for women. Shelley Mockler held an important position at Mocker, and Mary feels as though she paved the way and proved herself making it easier for women to make a name for themselves in the beer business.

In terms of products, Mary said things have definitely gotten more complicated. Where Mockler used to be a one-supplier company (Budweiser), they now have a large product mix that comes with its own bag of rules and regulations to follow.

If there’s one thing Mary knows, it’s the beer business. Much of what we see as consumers is the boom of craft beers, which is a tiny speck in the universe of beverage distribution.

Next time you visit a grocery store, try to see the world through Mary’s eyes and take a stroll down the beer aisle. You’ll notice the “clean store” trend retailers have latched onto, minimizing big displays and marketing props for products. Take a look at a cooler and see if you can tell which products sell more according to the space they’ve been allotted, and take into account size and profitability. The business of beer is a rabbit hole of fascination.

Cheers to you Mary!

This post is part of a monthly series spotlighting Louisiana women in the business of booze. Previous features include:

Natalie Parbhoo: Duchess of Distribution
Lindsay Nations: Baroness of Beer
Dori Murvin: Sorceress of Service
Nora McGunnigle: Headmistress of Hops
Myrna Arroyo: Vino Valedictorian
Brandi Lauck: Warden of Whiskey
Cari Caramonta: Mother of Malts
Erin White: Priestess of Pairing
Beth Donner: Dame of Distilling
Halston McMullan: Hustler of Houston Hops
Libby Landry: Governess of Grapes