On the Job with ... Tim Dill

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

"On the Job With...." is a regular feature of Sunday Inc. Today's session with with Tim Dill, the top executive with Miller Coors brewery in Albany.

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. Research the top 100 companies to work for and start there. I have met far too many people in my life who do not enjoy their work; in fact they dislike it. I enjoy my work, my company, my colleagues and my product. And if the industry in which you are interested doesn't have a top 100 company, discover who is the best. "Work" has developed a negative connotation when in fact there is nothing wrong with having fun at work, enjoying what you do, and deriving satisfaction from your contributions and results.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. Beer. Funny how cyclical life is.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. I believe all employees have three important questions that have to be answered before they are willing to be led. Can I trust you? Do you care about me? Are you vested in my results? If an employee can answer yes to these questions you are well on your way to a good relationship grounded in trust. That's probably pretty good advice outside of work, too.

Q. What was your first job?

A. First job at age 7 was sweeping and squeegeeing a miniature golf course in the summer. At age 9 it was caddying nine holes with one bag. In junior high it was morning janitor at the club my mother ran prior to school. In high school I caddied, worked fast food, continued the janitor job and cooked periodically at the club. First job after college was at Sky Chefs as a catering supervisor supplying airline catering back in the days when everyone received food.

I have always worked and had walking around money, date money, gas money, etc. I think because I have always worked, I have developed an appreciation for the value of money. One time my brother and I were in the back seat of my mom's station wagon and we were throwing pennies out the window at signs. My mom caught on to what we were doing and after we convinced her we only threw about five or six pennies out the window she stopped the car and made us get out and find six pennies along the road. It took hours. To this day I cannot bring myself to walk by a penny on the ground without picking it up.

Q. What led you to your current position?

A. I got the call from a recruiter about managing a brewery and thought it was a prank call from one of my friends. Dream come true.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. Several, but one comes to mind above others. Tom Debrowski was the nicest, most caring task master son of a gun you ever met. Expectations were crystal clear, results mattered, the manner in which you achieved results mattered and there was never a doubt in my mind that he cared about me and had my back. To this day he is on my "All dark alley team."

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. People love beer. We found a slight decline in consumption and consumers began trading down to some extent by switching from Coors Light to Keystone Light or from Miller Lite to Milwaukee's Best Light. Beer is still an affordable luxury and rather than discount our products we followed a strategy that builds value into our brands by delivering innovative products and packaging and consumers responded favorably.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. None of it. Technological evolution is important and meaningful in business. Information access is essential to good decisions. It's how you manage the technology and more importantly, your time, that requires adjustment. I carry my Blackberry everywhere but am notorious for turning it off when I think it needs to be off, when my attention should be uninterrupted.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. I am not a micro manager, but I admit I love my telemetry program that allows me to view how each line in the brewery is performing from my desk. It's no substitute for floor time, but it is highly informative in real time.

Q. What was the last book you read?

A. "Little Bee." It was well advertised in the airport and caught my eye. The advertising was better than the writing. I read so much business informational material I have become one who reads mysteries, detective and other fiction. Probably an escape mechanism.

Q. I'm up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. Fluctuates a great deal. If I need to be in early or work late that's what I'll do. I travel a lot. I am literally on call 24/7. Every employee in the brewery knows he or she can call my cell anytime. My first question will always be, "What did your team leader or manager say when you asked him or her?", but that communication line is always open. So I have no desire to be viewed as a workaholic. I know people at all levels in their organizations who believe the amount of time you put in is an indicator of how much value you add. I believe it to be effective to provide people the tools, the opportunity, and the support to be successful and get out of their way. Set clear expectations and measure them precisely and often, but let folks do their jobs. Having said all that I remember one business quote that goes something like, "The key to success in business is to only work half days...and be sure to get some sleep during the other 12 hours."

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Golf, travel, and exercise.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. I once wrote an e-mail titled. "The Emperor has no clothes" regarding a previous CEO's persistent pursuit of a football shaped frozen pizza. Our high speed production lines were designed to insert round pizzas into a square box. I said we could make baseball shaped pizza, basketball shaped pizza, soccer ball shaped pizza...but football shaped pizza was a bad idea. Didn't go over so well.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. This or any job, it's the people. In this job, though, we are beer people with a beer culture and a special zest for our business. It is an unbelievably fun company with a strong sense of pride.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Sometimes I'll see full beer cans or bottles in the dumpster. It's fairly sad.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. I was in ninth grade and deviated from the academic track to a course called JBT - Junior Business Training. The college bound students rarely took this course because it was designed to get you ready for the workforce and living on your own. It included subjects like managing a checkbook, establishing and living on a budget, financing, savings accounts, etc. I had great courses and subjects and professors in college, but I don't think there was anything from the JBT course that I don't apply today.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. I would be in shorts and sandals in a Tiki Bar called Timmy D's. This is no secret. In fact, last year for Christmas my team got me a Miller Lite neon sign that says "Welcome to Timmy D's" which currently resides on my back porch.

Q. Finish this thought; "on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself...

A. Someplace warm with a beach and a tiki bar that serves seafood.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Easy answer. Integrity. Humility is helpful.

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. Southwest Georgia is a tough call. We had a significant amount of building and what appears to me to be spending on credit prior to the major plant closings that hurt our economy. I'm not an economist but I think the issue is like any other challenge; you have to get at the root cause(s). Poverty, education, crime, and whatever you want to call the spirit of a village are issues that need to be addressed, pursued and corrected before I would predict any huge change in economic progress.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. Mine varies from Jimmy Buffet to Linkin Park, Guns and Roses, Nickleback, Rolling Stones, Green Day, Taylor Swift, 3rd Eye Blind, Chamillionaire, Lenny Kravitz, Jethro Tull, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Meatloaf, Cheryl Crow, Black Eyed Peas, Lil Wayne, Matchbox 20 and even Carole King.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken? Why?

A. Napa. The company.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. The biggest change has been the dominance of Light beer in our domestic market followed by the emergence of craft beers that are becoming more than just a niche category.