MSA Pure Spirits 2018 Q2 - 12

worked at the corporate office. She told him about a
new training program aimed at getting recent college
graduates into the sales division.
"Eileen still lives in the Detroit area," Keyes says. "I
called her last week to thank her for being my guardian angel. Without her, I don't know what I would have
been doing for the last 37 years!"
Keyes worked in Fargo, North Dakota for several
years, then boomeranged back to Detroit. His career
spanned sales, marketing and administration. The way
he talks about Stroh's, it seems like much more than
a job.
"Many of my best friends came from my seven years
at Stroh's. Three of them work with me at Brown-Forman now, but most importantly, I met the love of my
life, my wife Beth at the company and we have been
married for the last 28 years."
His next adventure was with Hiram Walker, a distillery just across the Detroit River in Windsor Ontario. Keyes was in charge of their Scotch division. In
1991, after taking a job with Brown-Forman, he and his
family moved to Louisville, Kentucky. This has kept
him pretty busy for the past 27 years. Brown-Forman
produces a wide range of spirits, including Jack Daniels, the world's best-selling brand of whiskey.
Initially, Keyes was part of the Korbel wine group.
This meant a move to Santa Rosa, California for several years. Because of his strong track record and leadership skills, he was promoted to Korbel Brand General
Manager. In 1997, Keyes switched to the Jack Daniels
team as Brand Director, and just a year later became
a VP. He's clearly thrilled with what he does and the
people he works with.
"Brown-Forman has been fantastic to me and I am
proud to work for the only spirits company in American that has been continuously operating before,
during and after prohibition." During? No need to call
the revenuers or invoke the Volstead Act-the statute
of limitations has long passed.
Aside from his 9-5 work, Keyes is on the Board of
the Distilled Spirits Council, Executive Sponsor of
Brown-Forman's Veterans Employee Resource Group,
Industry Chair for the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, and helps lead Brown-Forman's
Global Diversity and Inclusion Council.
Keyes lives in Louisville with his wife Beth, two
dogs and a cat. Their three children--Sarah, Jack and
Rob--are college students.
According to Keyes, quite a lot has changed since
1980. Fax machines, computers, industry consolidation. The most significant and welcome difference, as

12 PURE SPIRITS

he sees it, is the industry's-and society's-shift to a
more enlightened attitude about drinking. "As the
Industry Chair for the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, the change that I am the most
proud of is how beer, wine and spirits have embraced
and taken ownership of promoting responsible consumption. It wasn't always this way."
Throughout it all, Keyes was a proud Michigan boy
at heart. In particular, he fervently supported his beloved home team, the Detroit Tigers. They struggled
throughout the '50s, but grew increasingly stronger
during the '60s. In 1967, they nearly got to play for the
American League championship against the Red Sox,
but lost to the Angels in a game that would have tied
them with the Sox, in one of the closest pennant races in professional baseball history. In 1968, the Tigers
won the World Series for the first time since World
War II. It was an exciting time for a local boy and eager
Detroit fan. According to Keyes, the World Series win
helped repair a city that had been torn apart by the
riots.
The city still plays a big part in his life:
I grew up on St. Mary's Street between Schoolcraft
and Fullerton...I love Louisville and this is home now
but I will always be a Detroiter....I drive a Cadillac. I religiously follow all Detroit and Michigan sports. Some
things you just can't let go of."
When he was a boy, Keyes would go to sleep with a
transistor radio tucked under his pillow so he could secretly listen to the ballgame. As he puts it, "I was, and remain, a diehard Tiger fan. In fact, I am a fan of all things
Detroit." Keyes reckons he could name the starting lineup of the great '68 season, maybe even the full team. His
enthusiasm and pride for the Tigers haven't diminished
over the past 50 years. Keyes has visited the press box
to hear the announcers call the game up-close. He's
been known to show footage from the '68 Series at sales
meetings, and in the late-80s his answering machine
message was the pennant call from '68: "...line drive,
base hit, here comes Kaline to score...Don Wert singles
and it's all over! The Detroit Tigers have won their first
pennant since 1945. Listen to the bedlam!"
One of Keyes' prized possession is a signed Mickey
Lolich baseball that names him as the '68 World Series
MVP and a "Jack Daniel's Tennessee Squire," which is a
private club for loyal friends
of Jack Daniel's. That ball
sums up Mike Keyes-devoted to baseball, the beverage
industry, and the Detroit Tigers.

COURTESY OF MIKE KEYES

MIKE KEYES



MSA Pure Spirits 2018 Q2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MSA Pure Spirits 2018 Q2

MSA Pure Spirits 2018 Q2 - Cover1
MSA Pure Spirits 2018 Q2 - Cover2
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MSA Pure Spirits 2018 Q2 - Cover3
MSA Pure Spirits 2018 Q2 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2019_Q4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2019_Q2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2018_Q4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2018_Q2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2017_Q4
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