After years of declining and inconsistent revenue, the multi-state beverage company TBC has filed for bankruptcy. TBC was known for carrying an eclectic, if antiquated, selection of products that didn’t seem to resonate with modern consumers.
A vice president at TBC for the last 15 years, Richard Doyle, found out that his last day would be at the end of September. “Our products just don’t seem to resonate with the young, hip crowd,” said the forlorn executive, with a wistful look on his face (they don’t seem to resonate with the older crowd either, but I digress). “Kids these days are drinking their fancy this and that, grande double pumpkin bullshit or whatever.”
TBC’s motley assortment of beverages from yesteryear included such unloved profit killers as Birch Beer, Dark Cream, and Strawberry Fruit Soda. The last time TBC introduced a new product to market was 20 years ago, in 1996.
To many, the news of TBC’s impending demise was hardly unexpected. While TBC’s competitors invested heavily in information technology over the years, TBC was known as something of a Luddite in the often ruthless beverage industry, seemingly guided more by whim and gut feeling than data.
Doyle continued in a tone that belied the fact that his company had announced an imminent bankruptcy, perhaps more gambler than executive, “Sarsparilla is going to be huge this year. I just know it. Game changer.”
In recent years, TBC Executives seemed to relent slightly on their general aversion to technology. The anemic IT department hired consultants to develop a system that could more robustly analyze expenses and profitability.
One of the consultants on the implementation effort agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. “We built a good system for them. Profit per ounce, by state, by product, all that fun stuff.” The consultant paused for a moment, then continued, “We [consultants] don’t usually pay much attention to the particular numbers, you know? We just rack and stack cubes, make sure it all ties out. But we couldn’t help but look at their numbers and think, ‘Wow! how are these guys still in business?'”
Confronted with a recent sales report from the new system, Doyle still looked incredulous. “In hindsight, perhaps we should have seen it coming,” he mentioned, almost more of a question than a statement.
Sarsparilla is not, in fact, huge this year.