This case is set in April 2011 and begins with Mark Hamrlick, the founder and president of Hamrlick Brewing – a small brewer located in Illinois, US – who is considering which of several distribution partners he should choose for his Saxonbräu beers. Just 18 months into operations, Hamrlick has been selling and distributing his products, on his own, in kegs. In order to penetrate the market more quickly, Hamrlick decides to purchase a state-of-the-art bottling machine. Selling in bottles, he believes, will expand his distribution options. However, sales remain flat as he continues to operate at 28% capacity. Hamrlick must find a way to grow his young company.
This case can be used to teach concepts related to industry trends and the effects of environmental forces; competitive analysis; understanding of the target market; assessing distributor competency and contracting. The intent of this case is to give students an opportunity to assess the strategic importance of distribution and to compel them to consider the potential trade-offs in choosing various distribution partners.
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