“First rule of being in sales - when you’re in the van, you’ve gotta listen to rock and roll,” Aslan’s Local Sales Rep, Ian Shelby Lucas said. Ian has been working with Aslan for a little over a year now and is one of the funniest people I know. He’s originally from Walla Walla, Washington but has been in Bellingham for ten years. When he’s not at Aslan, he’s probably jammin' out on some drums, mountain biking, or drinking a beer somewhere.
The beginning of his work day starts with a seat at his desk. When I shadowed him, he said I needed to copy everything he did. He followed that statement with some stretching and gave me a look over the brim of his glasses when I didn’t entertain his suggestion. We sat at his simple desk, covered with small nik naks, his computer, and a yellow notepad covered in scribbled notes and went over what our day looked like. He has to go through inventory to see how much beer they have available to distribute so that he doesn’t promise anyone beer that we don’t have. The availability of beer is determined by what we have committed to Seattle, to the restaurant, and to donations. If we only have a few kegs left of a particular style of beer, the priority always goes to the restaurant.
Then Ian uses his calendar to see who he has to check-in on that day. He makes a list of people who he anticipates will need new kegs based off of his last visit and how heavy the keg was. Then he also makes a list of accounts he just wants to visit for fun.
He explained the importance of keeping people in Bellingham happy - especially the people we distribute to. “Face-to-face interactions and supporting other places is so important,” he said. After listening to him explain what he did, I realized that Ian is the person who holds the reputation of Aslan out in the streets. He goes from place to place, checking in on people and I couldn’t think of a better person to do it. He’s 5’11”, let’s his sleeping habits decorate his hair and just throws on something Aslan. He doesn’t fabricate friendliness, he’s just a great buddy.
We went to The Black Cat to check on their kegs but first sat down with Owner Debbie Tino and General Manager Cameron Tino. There was no agenda to sell more beer, we were just checking in with how they were doing and stayed for lunch. Companies in Bellingham hold high regards to face-to-face interactions. I found that a handful of places don't know as much about Aslan as they think they do. This idea sparked an internal inquisitiveness of what businesses think of Aslan. If I went and just had a real conversation with owners and workers of our “competitors” , would they give me their honest opinion of Aslan? I’m genuinely curious as to why some restaurants choose not to carry our beer. If it's not the quality of the beer itself, what is it? These are some of the questions that Ian must address on the daily.
Getting to know other businesses is magical because you get to see other efficient systems and values of those around you. I understand that naturally companies have “enemies” but I’m curiously sympathetic towards companies who don’t feel the need to get to know other businesses. Understanding how restaurants communicate with other restaurants is something I haven’t put a lot of thought into but Bellingham has an amazing network of supportive business owners.
Ian, I think that you’re perfect for this job in every way and I’m so happy to get to work with you. If you see this scruffy guy walkin' around, don’t hesitate to greet him because he’s always looking for a new buddy.