Which Busch was the best CEO in your opinion, and why?

Hard to say which was best, although clearly not August IV. I focused on the five Busch guys who ran the company. Adolphus the First was a brilliant industrialist. His son somehow figured out how to keep the company running during Prohibition, when 99 percent of breweries went out of business.

Gussie comes along; he was a master at selling beer. He took it to the next level, big-time. Buying the Cardinals made a difference, too. The team never turned much of a profit, but how much beer sales did it provide, and what did it do for the brand and the story? And August III was the modern, steely, hard-charging executive that took it to a level Gussie probably never imagined. So it's hard to say.

August Busch III (right) enjoys some of his product with Lou Rawls and Frank Sinatra circa 1982.
Zuma Wire
August Busch III (right) enjoys some of his product with Lou Rawls and Frank Sinatra circa 1982.
August Busch Jr., known as "Gussie," guided the brewery from 1946 to 1975.
RFT FILE
August Busch Jr., known as "Gussie," guided the brewery from 1946 to 1975.

Details

Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer will be released this month by HarperCollins Publishers. Author William Knoedelseder reads from the book at Left Bank Books' Central West End store (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 13.

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Do you think Steven Busch [August III's other son, who was also being groomed as an A-B executive] might have saved A-B?

He was kind of young. August IV certainly had a lot more experience. But everyone you talk to about Steven says he's really bright. I had one person say that August IV's sister, Susan, should have been CEO. Had August III invested the time and effort training her as he did August IV, it could have been really interesting. But a person also told me that August III said the person who succeeded him had to have balls — and he wasn't speaking figuratively.

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2 comments
kp.ryan
kp.ryan

Sounds like a great read.

pablop765
pablop765

GREAT HISTORY ABOUT THE BEER BARON'S OF ST LOUIS,

 
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