Boston Beer Co.’s chairman, Jim Koch, is not one to shy away from speaking his mind.
He proved it again Tuesday night. The founder of Boston’s best-known brewery told President Trump at a dinner in New Jersey that the corporate tax cut the administration successfully pushed last year has played a major role in making his company more competitive with foreign competitors (that he didn’t name). Going forward, Koch vowed, Boston Beer is “going to kick their ass.”
Indeed, the Republican tax overhaul already has helped Boston Beer’s bottom line. In the most recent quarter, the company’s effective tax rate fell to 28 percent from 36 percent a year earlier, largely because of tax changes passed by Congress.
The company’s stock, meanwhile, has essentially doubled in value over the past year, despite a modest decline in recent weeks. But the rise is more due to investors’ relief that Boston Beer is again showing sales growth rather than to any federal tax-law changes. Revenue rose 10 percent, year over year, in the most recent quarter — although much of the increase was due to non-beer products, such as Truly Spiked & Sparkling, and Angry Orchard Rose.
A White House transcript from Tuesday night’s event included remarks by the president and his guests, which included Koch and several other business executives, at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
After the president made introductory remarks, he asked attendees to stand and introduce themselves.
Koch didn’t hold back when it was his turn to speak.
“I’m not quite sure why I’m here,” he said. “I’m like the smallest company, by far . . . I guess I’m sort of speaking on behalf of what is now 7,000 small brewers in the United States.”
Koch kept rolling, telling the president: “When I started Sam Adams, American beer was a joke, and it pissed me off. And now, American brewers make the best beer in the world. And the tax reform was a very big deal for all of us, because 85 percent of the beer made in the United States is owned by foreign companies.”
The president appeared to like what he was hearing, telling Koch, “That’s right.”
Koch continued, “I mean, Americans — I’m the largest American-owned brewery at 2 percent market share. We were paying 38 percent taxes.”
Meantime, he said, the company was competing “against people who were paying 20. And now we have a level playing field, and we’re going to kick their ass.”
Trump didn’t disagree.
“That’s good,” he said. “We’ve done that. That was a very unfair situation.”