Allen Corey

Allen Corey grew up in Chattanooga, TN, where he lives today, and graduated from the Baylor School there in 1974. He then graduated from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 1978 and Vanderbilt University Law School in 1981. Mr. Corey was interviewed because of his broad knowledge of business and law and his distinctive approach to certain “worldview” issues.

A Brewer CEO, Who Practiced Law First

Allen Corey:

I graduated from Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville and I practiced at Miller Martin Law
Firm in Chattanooga, corporate and business practice, although I tried some cases early on
all my people lost and so I moved into the business practice. And what did I like about the
practice of law? I like my clients, the relationship with my clients, the commitment that you have for their best interest and the confidentiality of that and keeping things confidential.
But ultimately, closing and helping them make money, as opposed to the focus being on the
lawyer which it should not be.

Craftworks, The Largest Brewery Restaurant Chain in the U.S.

Doug Monroe:

Here we go, introduction, we want to find out what Mr. Corey has done. Many say it was destiny that one day you’d run the largest craft brewery restaurant company in the U.S. What do you think?

Allen Corey:

I think that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. It turned out that way, but I guess that’s a reflection of how much fun we had in college.

Doug Monroe:

So, tell me a little bit about Craftworks and how you got there.

Allen Corey:

Well, Craftworks was the end result of years of building a company. We started
out with one brewery restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and then over the years grew to owning brands like Gordon Biersch and then years later we merged with Rock Bottom to form Craftworks but that was a 15-year process.

Gordon Biersh Brewery Restaurant Chain

Doug Monroe:

Tell me a little bit about just the whole, there was, you’ve done several large acquisitions but the first sort of merger of equals was Gordon Beirsh, working with the Fertitas in Las Vegas and going to the west coast. What was that experience like?

Allen Corey:

It was interesting because of the cultural gap between the Las Vegas owners the Fertitas and us, but we were able to work through it and I think they did what they said they would do, but it was an intense negotiation. We had to push hard on price to get them down and we eventually did and we’re comfortable with the transaction. But the, Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch who founded Gordon Beers, wonderful guys from California, different background, but at the end of the day, we all pretty much thought in the same way and they kept the bottling
operation of Gordon Beers right and they did, they kept the bottling operation in San Jose
which was about a hundred thousand barrel production which is a fairly large brewery in the craft brewery segment. The problem with bottling operations is it’s hard to make money. You make a lot more money in a brewery restaurant than you will in a packaging operation. Significantly more.

Square One Holdings

Doug Monroe:

Talk a little bit about you, the team you’ve got now, and what you all are trying to do.

Allen Corey:

What we have now, we formed a company called Square One Holdings and as, and it’s back to square one. There’s a great article in The Wall Street Journal that spoke about the power of putting the band back together. So these are what I’ve used my best operators, best culinary people, best Brewers that are all together, that have now exited Craftworks once we sold it.

Carolina Brewery

Doug Monroe:

So, we’re sitting here now in the Carolina Brewery and tell me a little bit about
this store itself and the canning…

Allen Corey:

Well, we’re sitting in Chapel Hill in the original Carolina Brewery and Robert Poitras was the founder. He went to Carolina, went to Lawrenceville, which you’re familiar with by all these schools, and he wanted to start a brewery restaurant when he left, graduated from Carolina. And he got to know us, years ago back in 1996, and we helped him get started just from an oversight or a friend perspective, only that. So, we gave him information and things to think about, how to open his restaurants, and so he did that. And years later, 20 years later to be exact, as we were exiting Craftworks like I mentioned earlier, he called and we talked about his
situation at Carolina Brewery and felt like we could help him quite a bit. And so we got involved, we recapitalized the company, did a complete recap of his balance sheet and then got involved with implementing operating systems and training programs and culture building tactics and systems, procedures, and guidelines, and a better, fresher food, better, fresher beer. So, we raise the quality levels significantly not only in the kitchen but in the brewery.

So, we also have a wholesale operation, or Carolina Brewery does, and we got involved with that and implemented quite a bit of quality control procedures and are starting to grow that rapidly. In fact, we’ve introduced the first new beer that they have introduced in 20 years, which is ridiculous that that’s the case, but we just did that two, three months ago.

Doug Monroe:

What’s the name of that bear?

Allen Corey:

Pamlico Pale Ale.

Doug Monroe:

Right, I remember that. What about the Sky Blue sign behind you, over your left shoulder/

Allen Corey:

That’s a great beer, that’s a German-style, Kolsch beer and it’s probably the lead wholesale product for Carolina Brewery. It’s a lighter beer than what you typically see with craft and it’s got a great following sale as well. The focus and strategy is on eastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina and the coastal areas, although we’re selling in a lot of other places, including Tennessee.

Is alcohol a moral issue?

Allen Corey:

Well, I don’t think it involves moral issues first of all, so I would disagree with that. And what are the good things? People can have fun, it’s a great time to collaborate with each other, to socialize with each other, to have fun. Frankly, how about having some fun? How do
we manage the downside to people drink too much? We obviously have systems where
we make sure people are not underaged. We also will stop serving someone that they’ve had too much to drink. Will also oversee someone’s behavior leaving the restaurant if, or the brewery, if we can to help them make sure they get home safely in those issues. But other than
that, there’s personal responsibility too and that’s up to individuals to do that as well and which, in my views, is an issue we have in society as a whole. Maybe that wasn’t that your question, but that’s my reaction to it.
Doug Monroe:

No, this is…

Allen Corey:

In fact, one more thing on the moral issue. It’s interesting, my priest is an Episcopal priest, is a brewer and he says beer is the bread of life. So, is it a moral issue? Hell no it’s not a moral issue.

Doug Monroe:

No, no, no…

Allen Corey:

Hold on, one more thing. In fact, we brewed a holy ale every year where he stands on the bar and taps the beer. I’ll leave that at that.

What is business’s function in society? Ethics in business?

Allen Corey:

Well that’s not a simple answer to that. But as far as society is concerned, it provides a living for a lot of people, with job creation. It provides a profit if it’s run right, to grow. Ultimately, that can be used in many ways. Most businesses have or should have a social conscious and so philanthropy is part of that as well.

Doug Monroe:

Do ethics apply to business?

Allen Corey:

Of course they do.

Doug Monroe:

Are business ethics different from other ethics?

Allen Corey:

I haven’t thought about that and I don’t think that they necessarily are. Different facts are going to lead to different conclusions based on certain ethical standards, of course, but at the end of the day is it one overarching view towards doing the right thing? I think that’s true in business or in social functions.

Doug Monroe:

Do you, could you summarize your own your business ethics? You as, you’re the CEO, you’re dealing with these situations multiple times a day. Have you thought about that?

Allen Corey:

Well, I think in business ethics, it depends on the circumstances and on the day. But ultimately, it’s doing the right thing for the constituency that your team members, your shareholders, your managers, your operators, and always with a mind towards the extent that you can legally full disclosure so everybody knows what’s going on and can make proper decisions.

What is “doing the right thing”?

Allen Corey:

Well, let me give you an example. When Katrina hit in New Orleans, we had just opened a brewery in a restaurant and our team members were spread all across the United States without anywhere to go. We didn’t have to do anything, what we did do was get in touch with everyone by text and ultimately got money and paychecks to everybody in Baton Rouge where they knew where to go to get money, although they weren’t working and our stores shut down. And so, we were lifeline for all of them. We didn’t have to do that, but I think that was the right thing to do. and we did not have a lot of capital to spare either at the time and we also let everybody know we would hire them wherever they ended up if we had an operation. So we ended up hiring people from Atlanta to Los Angeles to Nashville to North Carolina all over the country.

Doug Monroe:

Where did you, why would you have that thought? Where would you…

Allen Corey:

That’s, that’s…

Doug Monroe:

They’re not at work at that time. And you can’t have the business going…

Allen Corey:

No, but they can’t, they count, well, we did care about profits. But we also care about people. And there’s more important things sometimes. It’s right thing to do.

Have your business ethics changed much in time?

Allen Corey:

I don’t think so, but in our business because we employ a lot of young people and a lot of folks that are using our business and our operations to pay for colleges, and also in the back of the house people that are making a career and even in the front, there’s so much for such a people business that you do learn more and more about people and what’s important to them and caring about what happens to them. So, that’s very important to us, so we do get engaged with every individual. We just had an hourly staff member in the back of the house, an African-American man who I see every morning at our new location mopping the floors, the dishwasher. And his son was killed in Washington, D.C. and he has no money, nowhere to go. Well, we are paying for everything, sending in to Washington, getting him back and making sure his income stream is not limited while he’s gone. That’s business ethics to me and so, overtime that more important than a lot of things. And I think your shareholders will support that.

Do you have any problems translating what you hear from the pulpit to your work week?

Allen Corey:

No.

Doug Monroe:

That’s a good answer. Is that your final answer?

Allen Corey:

I haven’t had any problems with that. Um, no.

Do you think many people outside of business understand business?

Allen Corey:

I don’t think they understand it at all. I think they’re absolutely clueless. That’s my answer to that. I don’t mean that to be too harsh, but I don’t think they have a clue.

Doug Monroe:

Why? Explain, please elaborate on that. What, why, how?

Allen Corey:

Non-business. That would mean academia. Well, first place, academia, the concept and what it takes to hire, train and retain great people. What it takes to manage people and businesses every day. They have no concept of that and there’s no way they can understand. Simple policy issues to them that seem so logical and straightforward aren’t so logical and straightforward once they get applied in the greater economy and into businesses. And so, the consequences of that, they have absolutely no understanding of, none. And that’s also true with clergy and I’ve had those conversations with others. So, concepts that seem so straightforward and so easy when that are not so simple in the broader environment and in the business. And they have, they really have no way of understanding that and you don’t know what you don’t know. And it’s very hard to convince someone of that.

Doug Monroe:

So, just to follow on from a prior answer, you said that you don’t have any problem yourself, I believe, moving it from the pulpit to Monday through Friday. But they, you’re saying they don’t understand it very, your Monday through Friday very well. So, would it be safe to say that you have to interpret what you hear and bring it into the work environment?

Allen Corey:

I think we do based on the answers I’ve already given you. You know, there’s, what’s the phrase? “Pray for the sick, forget not the poor, and make no peace with oppression.” You can do that every day and live that fully and it doesn’t limit how you run your business.

How good is advice from outsiders about ethical issues in your business?

Allen Corey:

I haven’t really ever had a lot of people advise me on ethical issues and running it. I really haven’t. Now, the lawyers have. The, you know, their perspective on how you’re supposed to think. That’s basically, you know, keeping you in some white lines of rules and regulations which is not necessarily ethics but it, you know, it can be. But, so, the lawyers and your accountants, they’ll tell you. If an accountant tells you, “Look we can deduct this but it’s really not deductible then you don’t deduct it.” But that doesn’t mean that the interpretation of that you can’t debate an negotiate through. It’s that simple. But, no, I haven’t had conversations with an advisor about business ethics, ever. I’ve had conversations with partners and business people about what we think we should do, but not in the context of, “Is this ethical or not?”

Is business all about money and profits?

Allen Corey:

I’m not really sure. I mean, it’s not to me. There’s no such black and white easy answer to most anything. So, is capitalism by definition about the best use of capital and making money? Yes, it
is and that doesn’t eliminate other factors and characteristics like we’ve just discussed. How do you treat your team members? Do you care about what happens to them in their lives? None of
that, the one is not without the other so I don’t but I don’t agree with that at all.

Doug Monroe:

How do you get to a business that’s successful and creates profits? How do you think about that?

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, that’s a very complex, you know, question. I mean, how do you get to, well, first of all, you got to have a good product, right? That somebody wants, whether it’s your services to practice law or the beer that you produce or the car that you make, right? So, assuming you have that, then it’s how do you manage that business, how do you set the business up for success, how do you manage the PNL to optimize profits? And part of that is hiring, training and retaining great people and you can’t do that if you don’t treat your people right and give them opportunity to grow and care about their growth. So, it’s all combined together, that’s why one is not without the other. And how you put all that pieces together and how you lead your people and your company is critical. Folks want to see leadership, have confidence in the leadership, that they’ll make the right decisions for them. So, I find it a big a burden when you have employees. We now have at Square One, good lord, seven or eight hundred people after what, a year and a half or two years? And we have a burden to make the right decisions for them so they can continue to grow as well in addition to our shareholders. So, it’s all, should be a line in everybody’s best interest in the same direction.

How important is strategy and marketing, in addition to people, versus profits?

Allen Corey:

Whatever you’re doing has to remain relevant and if you don’t, if you’re not constantly evolving your brands and your strategies, you’ll be left behind because the other guy’s doing that. So, I mean, I think I’m answering your question. So, that’s a constant process, a constant evolution. You can’t sit still. So, for the restaurant industry, you can’t have the same menu for 20 years. Or in the brewery business, you can’t have just the same beer every time, or you need to reinvent that beer. You need to always be relevant and be aware of what’s going on in the community and in the marketplace so you can compete.

Doug Monroe:

So certain people are looking for certain things when they come to your store or buy your beer, or whatever.

Allen Corey:

Sure. I mean, people are spending money and time with you, with their after-tax dollars and you better make that journey interesting and fun and then have the proper amount of levity and relaxation that people are looking for. Some are looking for a lot. Some people are looking for a pure culinary experience or some people there for just a drink or to have a beer, that’s fine. But you need a great environment and great products and great service and great hospitality. What we find is that is that our guest will forgive you for a bad beer or a bad drink or a bad meal. They will not forgive you for poor service and poor hospitality.

Doug Monroe:

Kind of a personal thing there, I think.

Allen Corey:

It’s true of everybody, yeah.

Do you have a worldview?

Allen Corey:

I’m not sure that I do. I mean, if what you mean by that is that different, that people come, have a different view or look at the world through their own prism from whatever their background is, then yeah, is that what you mean by that?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yes.

Allen Corey:

Do I have an integrated way of looking at my world? I have no idea. I don’t. I don’t have any idea. Other than the fact that if you ask me, “How did I look at it?” obviously, it’s steeped in the foundation of your life. Where you came from, you grew up, the friends that you have, sure that has a great influence but but from a philosophical standpoint, hell no. I don’t think about it.

Do most people have a worldview?

Allen Corey:

Well, they do. They might not define it the same way. I mean, I think it’s, I think it’s wordsmithing, quite frankly. So, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have importance to think about, but I don’t think most people think about it, no.

Where does one’s worldview come from?

Allen Corey:

Where does my…

Doug Monroe:

The way you look out toward the world and treat it with, you know, with your ethical decisions and this kind of thing. Where does that come from?

Allen Corey:

That comes from family and education and friends and experiences in life. That’s where it comes from. So, it’s a combination of all of that and what you learn every single day you live your life. And a lot of people have different influences on you as you go and you move. So, for me, it’s family of course and the schools you went to, the friends you made, the interaction that you have and in the big world. That’s what you do. So, I think it’s how you live your life as opposed to an intellectual decision and therefore I’m going to go do X.

Doug Monroe:

There are a lot of philosophers that would agree with you.

Allen Corey:

That would?

Doug Monroe:

They would, they would. Absolutely. Completely, they would.

What do you believe in?

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, I personally believe in personal accountability and in hard work, you know, and honor and duty and commitment, those kind of things. And I think that you do have to understand that in how you engage with other people. Also believe in listening and trying to be empathetic to other people’s perspective. And, therefore, other people come at things from a different perspective, a different prism and you need to listen to try to manage that, to try to engage with all those people, to move things along however that may be. That doesn’t mean you need to change yours and your perspective, but it is a process of at least being tolerant on one level and at the same time being committed to what you think is right.

Did your college days influence your thinking?

Allen Corey:

Well, of course it did because when I came here from Chattanooga, Tennessee for me, going to, at that time is eight or nine hour drive, it was a completely different perspective in world and a broader view. Chapel Hill, the good and the bad of a very liberal community, I think is positive. You’re exposed to so much which is positive. The friends that I met from all over like yourself from Woodberry Forest. Hell, I didn’t know what Woodberry Forest was or who all these people were. So it was very much a learning experience and a broadening experience.

I remember going up to Baltimore, Maryland with [names] six weeks into school. I had no idea what I was doing. And driving up to Baltimore, I thought, “good God, this is the biggest bunch of Yankees has ever been,” but I hopped in the car and went I wanted to see what was going on. Well Baltimore would be highly offended for me to call them Yankees which is why I enjoy doing that at every turn. But that to me was a learning experience and it changed my perspective on things, very much so. Changed my perspective on their perspective on family and friends and what you learned is that people may say things in different ways but they’re all trying to get to the same point.

What about experiences since college?

Allen Corey:

Same thing. I mean, just more experiences in life. And you have different things that that you do in life, people you meet in life, where you go in life that impacts your view. Whether it was
opening restaurants in Taiwan and getting to know the Chinese or the Taiwanese over there, that had a lot of impact. Whether it’s personal things that happen to you in your life have an impact on your view of the world, I guess. If we’re saying the same things about what a worldview really means, which I think is up in the air a little bit.

Can adults without children give good advice to parents?

Allen Corey:

Yeah, I mean, I think they can give logical advice, sure, that could be helpful even if they hadn’t, that sometimes parents, like in any other situation, wouldn’t you think as a parent that you’re too close to the situation? How many parents can have a reasonable,
rational perspective on their own children? Not many. So, can a non-parent on a particular issue have advice or comments that give you better perspective? Of course.

Doug Monroe:

What if they’ve never had children?

Allen Corey:

I’m not sure that matters on a particular issue. Depends on the issue. You know, even if they hadn’t had children you know they may have a perspective to say, “should you discipline that child in this instance” or “should you call bullshit that kid’s behavior?” They may have a perspective that helps you home in on that. Yeah, I don’t think it matters on certain issues. Sure, I mean, can you give advice to someone who’s running the business if you hadn’t run that business? Yeah, you can, and so it just depends.

What is most important to you in your life?

Allen Corey:

The most important thing in your life?

Doug Monroe:

To you in your life.

Allen Corey:

Yeah, I mean, it would clearly be family, friends, and institutions that you’re engaged in. Whether academic or your business.

How would you answer Curly’s question?

Allen Corey:

No, and that’s Curly, right? His comment, there’s only one thing?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Allen Corey:

I think Carly’s wrong. I don’t think there’s necessarily one thing but, you know, because there’s too many, it’s too complicated it’s not that simple. But I guess if you had to put some type of direction on that, a directional, it would be, you know, commitment or unconditional commitment to family, friends, institutions and your businesses and people in general. But that’s a two-way street too, that implies others are committed as well, because you can change as you go through but that gives people focus and where you can be counted on to be counted on. This is one of the most important things that you can do in life, in my opinion.

How easy or hard has it been being a husband and a dad?

Doug Monroe:

How easy/hard has it been being a husband and a dad?

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, that’s the great joy in life, you know, to do all that. And, you know, there are good times and some tough times, yeah, you know, you have children and grandchildren and those are the most important things that you can have. As you know, losing my son’s most difficult thing in life, the worst thing, but you continue. That’s what you do.

Doug Monroe:

Now you have, what, how many grandchildren?

Allen Corey:

Two. A little boy and a little girl.

Doug Monroe:

That’s great. All right. Let’s go to politics.

Who is responsible for the skyrocketing American federal debt?

Allen Corey:

Well, I think that it’s not the president or congress, it’s all of the above, and the electorate. This country has had unfettered, centralized government and growth, federal government, since the 30s, 1930s, since Roosevelt, unchecked. And I’m not sure how sustainable that is, but that has changed the fabric of the country. And, so, anybody in my opinion today that would say, “Whoa, we need to be more rational about this, and the federal government shouldn’t have to be in all these places by definition based on the last 75 years,” is reasonable. And, so, even though they can be painted as radical now which I find bizarre, that is the principal issue, in my opinion, that is occurring right now in politics and in the future of this country.

The size of the federal government and that size means what it’s involved in in addition to the budget. and to have what is it, 19 trillion dollars in debt today? The balance sheet of the United States of America is a disaster and nobody’s paying attention to that. That’s why when I have conversations with other folks and I view in the tests I take I’m in the middle, you know, politically, maybe moderate to, you know, middle Republican to that, so the social issues I’m completely uninterested in because I don’t think it matters. Others disagree violently with me so, you know, things like gay marriage and, you know, the bathrooms, I just couldn’t give a damn. Things like the balance sheet of the United States of America, personal privacy, personal responsibility, where the government should be involved, I care deeply about and those are the things that can hurt you.

Was it more civil in the public square in the 1970’s? What has changed?

Allen Corey:

I think there was there was, well I think it was absolutely more civil and, but what’s happened is, you know, I would put it to you this way: Adams won, Jefferson lost, so federal government, the growth of federalism has just been profound and overtime with the progressive agenda, it just slowly chipped, so the whole game, the goalposts have moved. So, that limiting government and limiting intrusion and regulation and personal rights has moved way, way beyond where they were when when Carter and Reagan were debating, for example. So, it’s already moved every day, and every year, so federalism and political correctness and the immigration issues and the politicization of the Supreme Court to me are devastating to this country.

If you were president and your party had a majority in Congress, what would you do?

Allen Corey:

Well, personally, going to rationalize the federal budget. I’m not sure how you do that, you know, and it’s much more complicated. And I realize Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are the vast majority of that, but you do need to attack what you can attack. And shoot, why should the federal government be involved in many of the issues they are involved? And also try to shout down political correctness if you could so that people can speak rationally. See, the reality of political correctness is the left is shouting down everybody else. It’s just everybody else can’t hear them. They’re shouting at you and you can’t hear them, it’s not the other way around. And that is slowly stifled conversation and debate, so I would try to address those issues.

Again, how to reduce the deficit?

Allen Corey:

I do think Bowle Simpson was a great way to start all this. And both the left and the right didn’t pick up that mantle and I think they generally had roughly two-thirds revenue reduction, I mean cost reduction, and then, you know, one-third some revenue enhancements and reduction. But it’s mainly getting some cost reductions. I didn’t look at the whole, you know, report but that was generally what I thought.

Doug Monroe:

That seems like a long time ago…

Allen Corey:

And it was the right move and nobody did a damn thing and the Republicans botched it as much as anybody else. See, this whole thing, I don’t know I’m going off the reservation here, but if this is a political conversation I think Bush botched things just as well as Obama botched things, not only with the budget but also, you know, had we not gone to Iraq and he not busted the budget there’d be a hundred Republican senators right now. There was that much equity that he blew in that and screwed things up and what happened in Iraq is he opened up this whole pot of, can of worms and Saddam Hussein had it all bottled up. He had to bottle up because he’d kill you if he didn’t like you.

Where is America in 20 years?

Doug Monroe:

Where do you see America’s future in 20 years?

Allen Corey:

You know, I don’t know. You’re talking about politically and just directionally as far as… I don’t know. I’m very worried about it. This may be the most concerned I’ve been in my lifetime besides, I don’t know. I mean, if there isn’t some limitation on the growth of the federal government and in some rational process with immigration, I think you could have a country that looks a lot different. What is it, I read or heard post-World War II Europe grew at like, two percent? And post-World War II United States has always grown, in good days, anywhere from four to six percent, isn’t that right? And I think it’s going to be more like Europe, sadly.

Doug Monroe:

What are the kinds of things that could happen? I mean, if you just extended the budget deficit now?

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, if you’re spending half your budget paying interest, how you going to invest in infrastructure without withering tax increases? And if that happens, you know, it’s a circle so your link growth gets stymied and a lot of the innovative, smart, job-creating people and go elsewhere. and for us to think otherwise, it would be a major, major mistake.

Are we as Baby Boomers placing burdens on our kids?

Doug Monroe:

Are we as Baby Boomers placing burdens on our kids?

Allen Corey:

Of course we are. I mean, a 19 trillion-dollar budget deficit’s a burden by anybody’s definition. Runaway federalism, there’s a burden just by definition. The economy is weighing down, that’s why we’re having a hard time it appears to me just holistically, you know, really growing out of the prior Great Recession right because there’s so much stuff in taxes and regulation and budget deficit and interest payments it’s just hard to really, you know, get going. So, is that a burden on the next generation? Well, hell yeah it is.

What to do in the Middle East?

Allen Corey:

Well, now that it’s been unleashed as I mentioned earlier, I think you need to be unapologetic about crushing ISIL and that means crushing ISIL, doing whatever it takes. And, you know, you can’t try to adapt to someone else’s or be forced to adapt to someone else’s philosophy, particularly if it’s evil. That on its face. What are you going to do? Trying to understand that? Are you going to fight it, where you got to fight it? Right now, and that’s what we should do. What about immigration?

Allen Corey:

As far as immigration is concerned, I think the proper process to immigrate to any country is well defined and I think that’s appropriate. And we need immigrants. We need immigrants for the economy and intellectual growth, but we don’t need a sieve in our southwestern states. That needs to be stopped, period. And as far as the 12 million people in the country now, well, deporting all of those people is absurd. We’re not going to do that. So, there needs to be a process to figure all that out and either make them go through a process and become citizens, or if they can’t, then they do get booted out. If there’s no border, there sure as hell no country.

Do you have a problem with freedom of speech in this country?

Allen Corey:

Well…

Doug Monroe:

They could do a lot here…

Allen Corey:

Here’s the thing: The First Amendment should apply to everybody and not be selective. So, what has happened, it appears to me, is that with political correctness and the left, seems to be wide open and anyone who disagrees they want to shut that down and that’s being shown right now. Many people protesting Trump and, you know, don’t want him to speak and I’m not commenting on for/against Trump, but, you know, I saw an article in CNN where they talked about the radical Ted Cruz. At the same time talking about the radical Ted Cruz yet Bernie Sander is not even mentioned. That to me is bizarre, absolutely bizarre. And that to me is an example of mainstream media or the left shutting down free speech when they don’t agree. I think it’s gross and a big problem and people need to stand up and shout that down.

What do you think about social justice?

Allen Corey:

I’m not sure I know what you necessarily mean by that, but if what you mean by that is that the less fortunate, there should be some, that the folks are even more fortunate shouldn’t be as fortunate as they are, and then they should be shifted is that, kind of what you’re saying?

Doug Monroe:

Well, maybe we ought to back up a little bit. What comes to mind when you think about
social justice? There may be several different ways you can think about it.

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, you know, see, I don’t think you can legislate one’s position, but I do think you can make sure that society as a whole with the contributions people are making tries to help everybody. And, so, that everybody has some opportunity. But there’s no such thing as equal, equal access for example, at all times. But you can do what you can to make sure everybody has the ability to pull themselves up. So, there’s tons and tons of stories that in the economy and immigration and of the people who arrive at this country with nothing and end up multi, multi-millionaires or billionaires. That proves that that process is possible. And should folks be helped along the way to the extent that they can? Absolutely, but not to the extent that it’s reverse discrimination either.

Should government provide a safety net for the disadvantaged?

Doug Monroe:

Do you believe in a fundamental safety net for people from the state?

Allen Corey:

I think that the society should be able to provide that. That doesn’t mean that you, that just means that there’s a safety net to where no one’s living in squalor if you can help and has the opportunity to get out. Sure, I think we can all contribute to that.

Does there have to be a tradeoff between social justice and freedom?

Allen Corey:

Yeah, I don’t think there has to be a tradeoff. And that’s the thing, you shouldn’t limit someone else who is very successful, type-A, growing, doing things, limit their freedom to do that because you want to allocate resources elsewhere. One should not be without the other.

Do we have to raise taxes to balance the federal budget?

Allen Corey:

I think there’s a lot of things that can be, that the federal government is engaged in that doesn’t need to be engaged in. It doesn’t, when you’re talking about issues of safety nets, there’s a lot of things that we’re doing we don’t need to be doing that you can allocate to safety nets. And the private sector can or cannot pick it up, like the arts. My wife is an artist but do my tax dollars need to go to that? Hell, no. Some of the social issues like abortion, which by the way I’m not fine with it, but it’s an argument: should your tax dollars be used to have anything to do with that? Maybe not, but it’s fine with the private sector.

Are you in favor of term limits?

Allen Corey:

Well, intellectually you can argue there should not be because that’s limiting democracy. Vote for whoever you want to, who cares? But I think to really have a functioning government and to do things right, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Are you optimistic about the U.S.’s future?

Allen Corey:

I’m not optimistic right now, but I’m not pessimistic either—so that’s kind of, I’m not as bullish and optimistic right now as I have been in the current situation, the current situation. So, you know, I’m one of the guys who’s had enough with the very issues we’ve been talking about. I think that can change quickly though, but I’m not blindly saying, “Oh America’s greatest days are in front of it.” That’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard from people constantly saying that. That’s easy to say and then allow and not a tackle the issues you got to deal with.

Do you think that the election cycle will have a good result as it sits now?

Allen Corey:

No.

Doug Monroe:

Almost regardless of who gets elected…

Allen Corey:

No. I’m not excited about any of the candidates, left or right.

Doug Monroe:

Would you…

Allen Corey:

The only one that would be reasonably excited as far as president isn’t going to be the nominee. Doesn’t have a chance, so, no.

Doug Monroe:

Do you think good people are running today?

Allen Corey:

No.

Doug Monroe:

Elaborate a little bit on that, if you would.

Allen Corey:

I personally think institutional politicians need to go. I’m sick of it. But Trump, for example, is not an institutional politician, but he’s not the right guy.

What was fun about college?

Allen Corey:

All the people you meet. All your friends. Being with them. I think often, of course, we had the fraternity house. The engagement with everybody and the learning that we all got from different walks of life and all different perspectives. It was a ball. I’d do it again in a minute.

Have young adults changed? The Golden Age?

Allen Corey:

You know, I don’t know. I mean, I can tell you, maybe not much. Kate at Miami, of Ohio, they appeared to be very similar to us, you know, her crowd. Meredith’s crowd at the University of Virginia, I guess too, they, maybe some of this reflection of the personality of my daughters, but they were pretty buttoned-up. But I don’t think they’ve changed a lot. I mean, the rules are different for them. I mean, for us, drinking age was 18 and we were right at the end, see, I think we went to school at the golden age. It was right at the end of Vietnam, was just shutting down, and so all the benefits of that freedom and the kind of the stretching the limits we had. But it was in a little bit more positive environment and so whether it was smoking dope or, openly, or the music and the engagement with people and the freedoms that that brought, we had all of that. Drinking age 18, again, but it had that slight positive. So, that that really ten-year period from 1974 we came, to 84 to me was a spectacular time to be in college. So, we had the benefits of all those and ,therefore, in my opinion, had a much more broader and more relaxing, more free environment than they have now. I mean, there weren’t any rules at the fraternity house, right? None. You do what the hell we wanted to. Now, there are rules, right? I mean, my children aren’t there. We had none. Zero. None. So that environment was, I don’t think it can be replicated. It’s unfortunate.

Doug Monroe:

We could do whatever we wanted, we were college students.

Allen Corey:

We did whatever the hell we wanted.

Are youth getting a good education today?

Allen Corey:

Yes, I do. I mean, academically, for sure. I think there’s a lot more, there’s
not the focus that there used to be, certainly in contra territory school. There’s a lot of offerings, it’s broader, and some of that’s good and some of that’s bad. But I think there’s a lot of good in that, too. I think some of the schools are much better in many ways, but I think there’s the, as always, there’s going to be some things that aren’t, you know, that you miss. But yeah, I think they get a great education.

The End!

Doug Monroe:

Perfect, it’s 3:30 and you can make your appointment. Thank you.

Allen Corey:

Thank you.

Doug Monroe:

See you on 60 Minutes.

Allen Corey:

How’d I do?

Doug Monroe:

You did awesome. I love it. I got so much good stuff from that, I don’t know what to do with it all.

Allen Corey:

No, you do.

Overview

Allen Corey

Allen Corey grew up in Chattanooga, TN, where he lives today, and graduated from the Baylor School there in 1974. He then graduated from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 1978 and Vanderbilt University Law School in 1981. Mr. Corey was interviewed because of his broad knowledge of business and law and his distinctive approach to certain “worldview” issues.
Transcript

A Brewer CEO, Who Practiced Law First

Allen Corey:

I graduated from Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville and I practiced at Miller Martin Law
Firm in Chattanooga, corporate and business practice, although I tried some cases early on
all my people lost and so I moved into the business practice. And what did I like about the
practice of law? I like my clients, the relationship with my clients, the commitment that you have for their best interest and the confidentiality of that and keeping things confidential.
But ultimately, closing and helping them make money, as opposed to the focus being on the
lawyer which it should not be.

Craftworks, The Largest Brewery Restaurant Chain in the U.S.

Doug Monroe:

Here we go, introduction, we want to find out what Mr. Corey has done. Many say it was destiny that one day you’d run the largest craft brewery restaurant company in the U.S. What do you think?

Allen Corey:

I think that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. It turned out that way, but I guess that’s a reflection of how much fun we had in college.

Doug Monroe:

So, tell me a little bit about Craftworks and how you got there.

Allen Corey:

Well, Craftworks was the end result of years of building a company. We started
out with one brewery restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and then over the years grew to owning brands like Gordon Biersch and then years later we merged with Rock Bottom to form Craftworks but that was a 15-year process.

Gordon Biersh Brewery Restaurant Chain

Doug Monroe:

Tell me a little bit about just the whole, there was, you’ve done several large acquisitions but the first sort of merger of equals was Gordon Beirsh, working with the Fertitas in Las Vegas and going to the west coast. What was that experience like?

Allen Corey:

It was interesting because of the cultural gap between the Las Vegas owners the Fertitas and us, but we were able to work through it and I think they did what they said they would do, but it was an intense negotiation. We had to push hard on price to get them down and we eventually did and we’re comfortable with the transaction. But the, Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch who founded Gordon Beers, wonderful guys from California, different background, but at the end of the day, we all pretty much thought in the same way and they kept the bottling
operation of Gordon Beers right and they did, they kept the bottling operation in San Jose
which was about a hundred thousand barrel production which is a fairly large brewery in the craft brewery segment. The problem with bottling operations is it’s hard to make money. You make a lot more money in a brewery restaurant than you will in a packaging operation. Significantly more.

Square One Holdings

Doug Monroe:

Talk a little bit about you, the team you’ve got now, and what you all are trying to do.

Allen Corey:

What we have now, we formed a company called Square One Holdings and as, and it’s back to square one. There’s a great article in The Wall Street Journal that spoke about the power of putting the band back together. So these are what I’ve used my best operators, best culinary people, best Brewers that are all together, that have now exited Craftworks once we sold it.

Carolina Brewery

Doug Monroe:

So, we’re sitting here now in the Carolina Brewery and tell me a little bit about
this store itself and the canning…

Allen Corey:

Well, we’re sitting in Chapel Hill in the original Carolina Brewery and Robert Poitras was the founder. He went to Carolina, went to Lawrenceville, which you’re familiar with by all these schools, and he wanted to start a brewery restaurant when he left, graduated from Carolina. And he got to know us, years ago back in 1996, and we helped him get started just from an oversight or a friend perspective, only that. So, we gave him information and things to think about, how to open his restaurants, and so he did that. And years later, 20 years later to be exact, as we were exiting Craftworks like I mentioned earlier, he called and we talked about his
situation at Carolina Brewery and felt like we could help him quite a bit. And so we got involved, we recapitalized the company, did a complete recap of his balance sheet and then got involved with implementing operating systems and training programs and culture building tactics and systems, procedures, and guidelines, and a better, fresher food, better, fresher beer. So, we raise the quality levels significantly not only in the kitchen but in the brewery.

So, we also have a wholesale operation, or Carolina Brewery does, and we got involved with that and implemented quite a bit of quality control procedures and are starting to grow that rapidly. In fact, we’ve introduced the first new beer that they have introduced in 20 years, which is ridiculous that that’s the case, but we just did that two, three months ago.

Doug Monroe:

What’s the name of that bear?

Allen Corey:

Pamlico Pale Ale.

Doug Monroe:

Right, I remember that. What about the Sky Blue sign behind you, over your left shoulder/

Allen Corey:

That’s a great beer, that’s a German-style, Kolsch beer and it’s probably the lead wholesale product for Carolina Brewery. It’s a lighter beer than what you typically see with craft and it’s got a great following sale as well. The focus and strategy is on eastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina and the coastal areas, although we’re selling in a lot of other places, including Tennessee.

Is alcohol a moral issue?

Allen Corey:

Well, I don’t think it involves moral issues first of all, so I would disagree with that. And what are the good things? People can have fun, it’s a great time to collaborate with each other, to socialize with each other, to have fun. Frankly, how about having some fun? How do
we manage the downside to people drink too much? We obviously have systems where
we make sure people are not underaged. We also will stop serving someone that they’ve had too much to drink. Will also oversee someone’s behavior leaving the restaurant if, or the brewery, if we can to help them make sure they get home safely in those issues. But other than
that, there’s personal responsibility too and that’s up to individuals to do that as well and which, in my views, is an issue we have in society as a whole. Maybe that wasn’t that your question, but that’s my reaction to it.
Doug Monroe:

No, this is…

Allen Corey:

In fact, one more thing on the moral issue. It’s interesting, my priest is an Episcopal priest, is a brewer and he says beer is the bread of life. So, is it a moral issue? Hell no it’s not a moral issue.

Doug Monroe:

No, no, no…

Allen Corey:

Hold on, one more thing. In fact, we brewed a holy ale every year where he stands on the bar and taps the beer. I’ll leave that at that.

What is business’s function in society? Ethics in business?

Allen Corey:

Well that’s not a simple answer to that. But as far as society is concerned, it provides a living for a lot of people, with job creation. It provides a profit if it’s run right, to grow. Ultimately, that can be used in many ways. Most businesses have or should have a social conscious and so philanthropy is part of that as well.

Doug Monroe:

Do ethics apply to business?

Allen Corey:

Of course they do.

Doug Monroe:

Are business ethics different from other ethics?

Allen Corey:

I haven’t thought about that and I don’t think that they necessarily are. Different facts are going to lead to different conclusions based on certain ethical standards, of course, but at the end of the day is it one overarching view towards doing the right thing? I think that’s true in business or in social functions.

Doug Monroe:

Do you, could you summarize your own your business ethics? You as, you’re the CEO, you’re dealing with these situations multiple times a day. Have you thought about that?

Allen Corey:

Well, I think in business ethics, it depends on the circumstances and on the day. But ultimately, it’s doing the right thing for the constituency that your team members, your shareholders, your managers, your operators, and always with a mind towards the extent that you can legally full disclosure so everybody knows what’s going on and can make proper decisions.

What is “doing the right thing”?

Allen Corey:

Well, let me give you an example. When Katrina hit in New Orleans, we had just opened a brewery in a restaurant and our team members were spread all across the United States without anywhere to go. We didn’t have to do anything, what we did do was get in touch with everyone by text and ultimately got money and paychecks to everybody in Baton Rouge where they knew where to go to get money, although they weren’t working and our stores shut down. And so, we were lifeline for all of them. We didn’t have to do that, but I think that was the right thing to do. and we did not have a lot of capital to spare either at the time and we also let everybody know we would hire them wherever they ended up if we had an operation. So we ended up hiring people from Atlanta to Los Angeles to Nashville to North Carolina all over the country.

Doug Monroe:

Where did you, why would you have that thought? Where would you…

Allen Corey:

That’s, that’s…

Doug Monroe:

They’re not at work at that time. And you can’t have the business going…

Allen Corey:

No, but they can’t, they count, well, we did care about profits. But we also care about people. And there’s more important things sometimes. It’s right thing to do.

Have your business ethics changed much in time?

Allen Corey:

I don’t think so, but in our business because we employ a lot of young people and a lot of folks that are using our business and our operations to pay for colleges, and also in the back of the house people that are making a career and even in the front, there’s so much for such a people business that you do learn more and more about people and what’s important to them and caring about what happens to them. So, that’s very important to us, so we do get engaged with every individual. We just had an hourly staff member in the back of the house, an African-American man who I see every morning at our new location mopping the floors, the dishwasher. And his son was killed in Washington, D.C. and he has no money, nowhere to go. Well, we are paying for everything, sending in to Washington, getting him back and making sure his income stream is not limited while he’s gone. That’s business ethics to me and so, overtime that more important than a lot of things. And I think your shareholders will support that.

Do you have any problems translating what you hear from the pulpit to your work week?

Allen Corey:

No.

Doug Monroe:

That’s a good answer. Is that your final answer?

Allen Corey:

I haven’t had any problems with that. Um, no.

Do you think many people outside of business understand business?

Allen Corey:

I don’t think they understand it at all. I think they’re absolutely clueless. That’s my answer to that. I don’t mean that to be too harsh, but I don’t think they have a clue.

Doug Monroe:

Why? Explain, please elaborate on that. What, why, how?

Allen Corey:

Non-business. That would mean academia. Well, first place, academia, the concept and what it takes to hire, train and retain great people. What it takes to manage people and businesses every day. They have no concept of that and there’s no way they can understand. Simple policy issues to them that seem so logical and straightforward aren’t so logical and straightforward once they get applied in the greater economy and into businesses. And so, the consequences of that, they have absolutely no understanding of, none. And that’s also true with clergy and I’ve had those conversations with others. So, concepts that seem so straightforward and so easy when that are not so simple in the broader environment and in the business. And they have, they really have no way of understanding that and you don’t know what you don’t know. And it’s very hard to convince someone of that.

Doug Monroe:

So, just to follow on from a prior answer, you said that you don’t have any problem yourself, I believe, moving it from the pulpit to Monday through Friday. But they, you’re saying they don’t understand it very, your Monday through Friday very well. So, would it be safe to say that you have to interpret what you hear and bring it into the work environment?

Allen Corey:

I think we do based on the answers I’ve already given you. You know, there’s, what’s the phrase? “Pray for the sick, forget not the poor, and make no peace with oppression.” You can do that every day and live that fully and it doesn’t limit how you run your business.

How good is advice from outsiders about ethical issues in your business?

Allen Corey:

I haven’t really ever had a lot of people advise me on ethical issues and running it. I really haven’t. Now, the lawyers have. The, you know, their perspective on how you’re supposed to think. That’s basically, you know, keeping you in some white lines of rules and regulations which is not necessarily ethics but it, you know, it can be. But, so, the lawyers and your accountants, they’ll tell you. If an accountant tells you, “Look we can deduct this but it’s really not deductible then you don’t deduct it.” But that doesn’t mean that the interpretation of that you can’t debate an negotiate through. It’s that simple. But, no, I haven’t had conversations with an advisor about business ethics, ever. I’ve had conversations with partners and business people about what we think we should do, but not in the context of, “Is this ethical or not?”

Is business all about money and profits?

Allen Corey:

I’m not really sure. I mean, it’s not to me. There’s no such black and white easy answer to most anything. So, is capitalism by definition about the best use of capital and making money? Yes, it
is and that doesn’t eliminate other factors and characteristics like we’ve just discussed. How do you treat your team members? Do you care about what happens to them in their lives? None of
that, the one is not without the other so I don’t but I don’t agree with that at all.

Doug Monroe:

How do you get to a business that’s successful and creates profits? How do you think about that?

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, that’s a very complex, you know, question. I mean, how do you get to, well, first of all, you got to have a good product, right? That somebody wants, whether it’s your services to practice law or the beer that you produce or the car that you make, right? So, assuming you have that, then it’s how do you manage that business, how do you set the business up for success, how do you manage the PNL to optimize profits? And part of that is hiring, training and retaining great people and you can’t do that if you don’t treat your people right and give them opportunity to grow and care about their growth. So, it’s all combined together, that’s why one is not without the other. And how you put all that pieces together and how you lead your people and your company is critical. Folks want to see leadership, have confidence in the leadership, that they’ll make the right decisions for them. So, I find it a big a burden when you have employees. We now have at Square One, good lord, seven or eight hundred people after what, a year and a half or two years? And we have a burden to make the right decisions for them so they can continue to grow as well in addition to our shareholders. So, it’s all, should be a line in everybody’s best interest in the same direction.

How important is strategy and marketing, in addition to people, versus profits?

Allen Corey:

Whatever you’re doing has to remain relevant and if you don’t, if you’re not constantly evolving your brands and your strategies, you’ll be left behind because the other guy’s doing that. So, I mean, I think I’m answering your question. So, that’s a constant process, a constant evolution. You can’t sit still. So, for the restaurant industry, you can’t have the same menu for 20 years. Or in the brewery business, you can’t have just the same beer every time, or you need to reinvent that beer. You need to always be relevant and be aware of what’s going on in the community and in the marketplace so you can compete.

Doug Monroe:

So certain people are looking for certain things when they come to your store or buy your beer, or whatever.

Allen Corey:

Sure. I mean, people are spending money and time with you, with their after-tax dollars and you better make that journey interesting and fun and then have the proper amount of levity and relaxation that people are looking for. Some are looking for a lot. Some people are looking for a pure culinary experience or some people there for just a drink or to have a beer, that’s fine. But you need a great environment and great products and great service and great hospitality. What we find is that is that our guest will forgive you for a bad beer or a bad drink or a bad meal. They will not forgive you for poor service and poor hospitality.

Doug Monroe:

Kind of a personal thing there, I think.

Allen Corey:

It’s true of everybody, yeah.

Do you have a worldview?

Allen Corey:

I’m not sure that I do. I mean, if what you mean by that is that different, that people come, have a different view or look at the world through their own prism from whatever their background is, then yeah, is that what you mean by that?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, yes.

Allen Corey:

Do I have an integrated way of looking at my world? I have no idea. I don’t. I don’t have any idea. Other than the fact that if you ask me, “How did I look at it?” obviously, it’s steeped in the foundation of your life. Where you came from, you grew up, the friends that you have, sure that has a great influence but but from a philosophical standpoint, hell no. I don’t think about it.

Do most people have a worldview?

Allen Corey:

Well, they do. They might not define it the same way. I mean, I think it’s, I think it’s wordsmithing, quite frankly. So, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have importance to think about, but I don’t think most people think about it, no.

Where does one’s worldview come from?

Allen Corey:

Where does my…

Doug Monroe:

The way you look out toward the world and treat it with, you know, with your ethical decisions and this kind of thing. Where does that come from?

Allen Corey:

That comes from family and education and friends and experiences in life. That’s where it comes from. So, it’s a combination of all of that and what you learn every single day you live your life. And a lot of people have different influences on you as you go and you move. So, for me, it’s family of course and the schools you went to, the friends you made, the interaction that you have and in the big world. That’s what you do. So, I think it’s how you live your life as opposed to an intellectual decision and therefore I’m going to go do X.

Doug Monroe:

There are a lot of philosophers that would agree with you.

Allen Corey:

That would?

Doug Monroe:

They would, they would. Absolutely. Completely, they would.

What do you believe in?

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, I personally believe in personal accountability and in hard work, you know, and honor and duty and commitment, those kind of things. And I think that you do have to understand that in how you engage with other people. Also believe in listening and trying to be empathetic to other people’s perspective. And, therefore, other people come at things from a different perspective, a different prism and you need to listen to try to manage that, to try to engage with all those people, to move things along however that may be. That doesn’t mean you need to change yours and your perspective, but it is a process of at least being tolerant on one level and at the same time being committed to what you think is right.

Did your college days influence your thinking?

Allen Corey:

Well, of course it did because when I came here from Chattanooga, Tennessee for me, going to, at that time is eight or nine hour drive, it was a completely different perspective in world and a broader view. Chapel Hill, the good and the bad of a very liberal community, I think is positive. You’re exposed to so much which is positive. The friends that I met from all over like yourself from Woodberry Forest. Hell, I didn’t know what Woodberry Forest was or who all these people were. So it was very much a learning experience and a broadening experience.

I remember going up to Baltimore, Maryland with [names] six weeks into school. I had no idea what I was doing. And driving up to Baltimore, I thought, “good God, this is the biggest bunch of Yankees has ever been,” but I hopped in the car and went I wanted to see what was going on. Well Baltimore would be highly offended for me to call them Yankees which is why I enjoy doing that at every turn. But that to me was a learning experience and it changed my perspective on things, very much so. Changed my perspective on their perspective on family and friends and what you learned is that people may say things in different ways but they’re all trying to get to the same point.

What about experiences since college?

Allen Corey:

Same thing. I mean, just more experiences in life. And you have different things that that you do in life, people you meet in life, where you go in life that impacts your view. Whether it was
opening restaurants in Taiwan and getting to know the Chinese or the Taiwanese over there, that had a lot of impact. Whether it’s personal things that happen to you in your life have an impact on your view of the world, I guess. If we’re saying the same things about what a worldview really means, which I think is up in the air a little bit.

Can adults without children give good advice to parents?

Allen Corey:

Yeah, I mean, I think they can give logical advice, sure, that could be helpful even if they hadn’t, that sometimes parents, like in any other situation, wouldn’t you think as a parent that you’re too close to the situation? How many parents can have a reasonable,
rational perspective on their own children? Not many. So, can a non-parent on a particular issue have advice or comments that give you better perspective? Of course.

Doug Monroe:

What if they’ve never had children?

Allen Corey:

I’m not sure that matters on a particular issue. Depends on the issue. You know, even if they hadn’t had children you know they may have a perspective to say, “should you discipline that child in this instance” or “should you call bullshit that kid’s behavior?” They may have a perspective that helps you home in on that. Yeah, I don’t think it matters on certain issues. Sure, I mean, can you give advice to someone who’s running the business if you hadn’t run that business? Yeah, you can, and so it just depends.

What is most important to you in your life?

Allen Corey:

The most important thing in your life?

Doug Monroe:

To you in your life.

Allen Corey:

Yeah, I mean, it would clearly be family, friends, and institutions that you’re engaged in. Whether academic or your business.

How would you answer Curly’s question?

Allen Corey:

No, and that’s Curly, right? His comment, there’s only one thing?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Allen Corey:

I think Carly’s wrong. I don’t think there’s necessarily one thing but, you know, because there’s too many, it’s too complicated it’s not that simple. But I guess if you had to put some type of direction on that, a directional, it would be, you know, commitment or unconditional commitment to family, friends, institutions and your businesses and people in general. But that’s a two-way street too, that implies others are committed as well, because you can change as you go through but that gives people focus and where you can be counted on to be counted on. This is one of the most important things that you can do in life, in my opinion.

How easy or hard has it been being a husband and a dad?

Doug Monroe:

How easy/hard has it been being a husband and a dad?

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, that’s the great joy in life, you know, to do all that. And, you know, there are good times and some tough times, yeah, you know, you have children and grandchildren and those are the most important things that you can have. As you know, losing my son’s most difficult thing in life, the worst thing, but you continue. That’s what you do.

Doug Monroe:

Now you have, what, how many grandchildren?

Allen Corey:

Two. A little boy and a little girl.

Doug Monroe:

That’s great. All right. Let’s go to politics.

Who is responsible for the skyrocketing American federal debt?

Allen Corey:

Well, I think that it’s not the president or congress, it’s all of the above, and the electorate. This country has had unfettered, centralized government and growth, federal government, since the 30s, 1930s, since Roosevelt, unchecked. And I’m not sure how sustainable that is, but that has changed the fabric of the country. And, so, anybody in my opinion today that would say, “Whoa, we need to be more rational about this, and the federal government shouldn’t have to be in all these places by definition based on the last 75 years,” is reasonable. And, so, even though they can be painted as radical now which I find bizarre, that is the principal issue, in my opinion, that is occurring right now in politics and in the future of this country.

The size of the federal government and that size means what it’s involved in in addition to the budget. and to have what is it, 19 trillion dollars in debt today? The balance sheet of the United States of America is a disaster and nobody’s paying attention to that. That’s why when I have conversations with other folks and I view in the tests I take I’m in the middle, you know, politically, maybe moderate to, you know, middle Republican to that, so the social issues I’m completely uninterested in because I don’t think it matters. Others disagree violently with me so, you know, things like gay marriage and, you know, the bathrooms, I just couldn’t give a damn. Things like the balance sheet of the United States of America, personal privacy, personal responsibility, where the government should be involved, I care deeply about and those are the things that can hurt you.

Was it more civil in the public square in the 1970’s? What has changed?

Allen Corey:

I think there was there was, well I think it was absolutely more civil and, but what’s happened is, you know, I would put it to you this way: Adams won, Jefferson lost, so federal government, the growth of federalism has just been profound and overtime with the progressive agenda, it just slowly chipped, so the whole game, the goalposts have moved. So, that limiting government and limiting intrusion and regulation and personal rights has moved way, way beyond where they were when when Carter and Reagan were debating, for example. So, it’s already moved every day, and every year, so federalism and political correctness and the immigration issues and the politicization of the Supreme Court to me are devastating to this country.

If you were president and your party had a majority in Congress, what would you do?

Allen Corey:

Well, personally, going to rationalize the federal budget. I’m not sure how you do that, you know, and it’s much more complicated. And I realize Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are the vast majority of that, but you do need to attack what you can attack. And shoot, why should the federal government be involved in many of the issues they are involved? And also try to shout down political correctness if you could so that people can speak rationally. See, the reality of political correctness is the left is shouting down everybody else. It’s just everybody else can’t hear them. They’re shouting at you and you can’t hear them, it’s not the other way around. And that is slowly stifled conversation and debate, so I would try to address those issues.

Again, how to reduce the deficit?

Allen Corey:

I do think Bowle Simpson was a great way to start all this. And both the left and the right didn’t pick up that mantle and I think they generally had roughly two-thirds revenue reduction, I mean cost reduction, and then, you know, one-third some revenue enhancements and reduction. But it’s mainly getting some cost reductions. I didn’t look at the whole, you know, report but that was generally what I thought.

Doug Monroe:

That seems like a long time ago…

Allen Corey:

And it was the right move and nobody did a damn thing and the Republicans botched it as much as anybody else. See, this whole thing, I don’t know I’m going off the reservation here, but if this is a political conversation I think Bush botched things just as well as Obama botched things, not only with the budget but also, you know, had we not gone to Iraq and he not busted the budget there’d be a hundred Republican senators right now. There was that much equity that he blew in that and screwed things up and what happened in Iraq is he opened up this whole pot of, can of worms and Saddam Hussein had it all bottled up. He had to bottle up because he’d kill you if he didn’t like you.

Where is America in 20 years?

Doug Monroe:

Where do you see America’s future in 20 years?

Allen Corey:

You know, I don’t know. You’re talking about politically and just directionally as far as… I don’t know. I’m very worried about it. This may be the most concerned I’ve been in my lifetime besides, I don’t know. I mean, if there isn’t some limitation on the growth of the federal government and in some rational process with immigration, I think you could have a country that looks a lot different. What is it, I read or heard post-World War II Europe grew at like, two percent? And post-World War II United States has always grown, in good days, anywhere from four to six percent, isn’t that right? And I think it’s going to be more like Europe, sadly.

Doug Monroe:

What are the kinds of things that could happen? I mean, if you just extended the budget deficit now?

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, if you’re spending half your budget paying interest, how you going to invest in infrastructure without withering tax increases? And if that happens, you know, it’s a circle so your link growth gets stymied and a lot of the innovative, smart, job-creating people and go elsewhere. and for us to think otherwise, it would be a major, major mistake.

Are we as Baby Boomers placing burdens on our kids?

Doug Monroe:

Are we as Baby Boomers placing burdens on our kids?

Allen Corey:

Of course we are. I mean, a 19 trillion-dollar budget deficit’s a burden by anybody’s definition. Runaway federalism, there’s a burden just by definition. The economy is weighing down, that’s why we’re having a hard time it appears to me just holistically, you know, really growing out of the prior Great Recession right because there’s so much stuff in taxes and regulation and budget deficit and interest payments it’s just hard to really, you know, get going. So, is that a burden on the next generation? Well, hell yeah it is.

What to do in the Middle East?

Allen Corey:

Well, now that it’s been unleashed as I mentioned earlier, I think you need to be unapologetic about crushing ISIL and that means crushing ISIL, doing whatever it takes. And, you know, you can’t try to adapt to someone else’s or be forced to adapt to someone else’s philosophy, particularly if it’s evil. That on its face. What are you going to do? Trying to understand that? Are you going to fight it, where you got to fight it? Right now, and that’s what we should do. What about immigration?

Allen Corey:

As far as immigration is concerned, I think the proper process to immigrate to any country is well defined and I think that’s appropriate. And we need immigrants. We need immigrants for the economy and intellectual growth, but we don’t need a sieve in our southwestern states. That needs to be stopped, period. And as far as the 12 million people in the country now, well, deporting all of those people is absurd. We’re not going to do that. So, there needs to be a process to figure all that out and either make them go through a process and become citizens, or if they can’t, then they do get booted out. If there’s no border, there sure as hell no country.

Do you have a problem with freedom of speech in this country?

Allen Corey:

Well…

Doug Monroe:

They could do a lot here…

Allen Corey:

Here’s the thing: The First Amendment should apply to everybody and not be selective. So, what has happened, it appears to me, is that with political correctness and the left, seems to be wide open and anyone who disagrees they want to shut that down and that’s being shown right now. Many people protesting Trump and, you know, don’t want him to speak and I’m not commenting on for/against Trump, but, you know, I saw an article in CNN where they talked about the radical Ted Cruz. At the same time talking about the radical Ted Cruz yet Bernie Sander is not even mentioned. That to me is bizarre, absolutely bizarre. And that to me is an example of mainstream media or the left shutting down free speech when they don’t agree. I think it’s gross and a big problem and people need to stand up and shout that down.

What do you think about social justice?

Allen Corey:

I’m not sure I know what you necessarily mean by that, but if what you mean by that is that the less fortunate, there should be some, that the folks are even more fortunate shouldn’t be as fortunate as they are, and then they should be shifted is that, kind of what you’re saying?

Doug Monroe:

Well, maybe we ought to back up a little bit. What comes to mind when you think about
social justice? There may be several different ways you can think about it.

Allen Corey:

Well, I mean, you know, see, I don’t think you can legislate one’s position, but I do think you can make sure that society as a whole with the contributions people are making tries to help everybody. And, so, that everybody has some opportunity. But there’s no such thing as equal, equal access for example, at all times. But you can do what you can to make sure everybody has the ability to pull themselves up. So, there’s tons and tons of stories that in the economy and immigration and of the people who arrive at this country with nothing and end up multi, multi-millionaires or billionaires. That proves that that process is possible. And should folks be helped along the way to the extent that they can? Absolutely, but not to the extent that it’s reverse discrimination either.

Should government provide a safety net for the disadvantaged?

Doug Monroe:

Do you believe in a fundamental safety net for people from the state?

Allen Corey:

I think that the society should be able to provide that. That doesn’t mean that you, that just means that there’s a safety net to where no one’s living in squalor if you can help and has the opportunity to get out. Sure, I think we can all contribute to that.

Does there have to be a tradeoff between social justice and freedom?

Allen Corey:

Yeah, I don’t think there has to be a tradeoff. And that’s the thing, you shouldn’t limit someone else who is very successful, type-A, growing, doing things, limit their freedom to do that because you want to allocate resources elsewhere. One should not be without the other.

Do we have to raise taxes to balance the federal budget?

Allen Corey:

I think there’s a lot of things that can be, that the federal government is engaged in that doesn’t need to be engaged in. It doesn’t, when you’re talking about issues of safety nets, there’s a lot of things that we’re doing we don’t need to be doing that you can allocate to safety nets. And the private sector can or cannot pick it up, like the arts. My wife is an artist but do my tax dollars need to go to that? Hell, no. Some of the social issues like abortion, which by the way I’m not fine with it, but it’s an argument: should your tax dollars be used to have anything to do with that? Maybe not, but it’s fine with the private sector.

Are you in favor of term limits?

Allen Corey:

Well, intellectually you can argue there should not be because that’s limiting democracy. Vote for whoever you want to, who cares? But I think to really have a functioning government and to do things right, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Are you optimistic about the U.S.’s future?

Allen Corey:

I’m not optimistic right now, but I’m not pessimistic either—so that’s kind of, I’m not as bullish and optimistic right now as I have been in the current situation, the current situation. So, you know, I’m one of the guys who’s had enough with the very issues we’ve been talking about. I think that can change quickly though, but I’m not blindly saying, “Oh America’s greatest days are in front of it.” That’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard from people constantly saying that. That’s easy to say and then allow and not a tackle the issues you got to deal with.

Do you think that the election cycle will have a good result as it sits now?

Allen Corey:

No.

Doug Monroe:

Almost regardless of who gets elected…

Allen Corey:

No. I’m not excited about any of the candidates, left or right.

Doug Monroe:

Would you…

Allen Corey:

The only one that would be reasonably excited as far as president isn’t going to be the nominee. Doesn’t have a chance, so, no.

Doug Monroe:

Do you think good people are running today?

Allen Corey:

No.

Doug Monroe:

Elaborate a little bit on that, if you would.

Allen Corey:

I personally think institutional politicians need to go. I’m sick of it. But Trump, for example, is not an institutional politician, but he’s not the right guy.

What was fun about college?

Allen Corey:

All the people you meet. All your friends. Being with them. I think often, of course, we had the fraternity house. The engagement with everybody and the learning that we all got from different walks of life and all different perspectives. It was a ball. I’d do it again in a minute.

Have young adults changed? The Golden Age?

Allen Corey:

You know, I don’t know. I mean, I can tell you, maybe not much. Kate at Miami, of Ohio, they appeared to be very similar to us, you know, her crowd. Meredith’s crowd at the University of Virginia, I guess too, they, maybe some of this reflection of the personality of my daughters, but they were pretty buttoned-up. But I don’t think they’ve changed a lot. I mean, the rules are different for them. I mean, for us, drinking age was 18 and we were right at the end, see, I think we went to school at the golden age. It was right at the end of Vietnam, was just shutting down, and so all the benefits of that freedom and the kind of the stretching the limits we had. But it was in a little bit more positive environment and so whether it was smoking dope or, openly, or the music and the engagement with people and the freedoms that that brought, we had all of that. Drinking age 18, again, but it had that slight positive. So, that that really ten-year period from 1974 we came, to 84 to me was a spectacular time to be in college. So, we had the benefits of all those and ,therefore, in my opinion, had a much more broader and more relaxing, more free environment than they have now. I mean, there weren’t any rules at the fraternity house, right? None. You do what the hell we wanted to. Now, there are rules, right? I mean, my children aren’t there. We had none. Zero. None. So that environment was, I don’t think it can be replicated. It’s unfortunate.

Doug Monroe:

We could do whatever we wanted, we were college students.

Allen Corey:

We did whatever the hell we wanted.

Are youth getting a good education today?

Allen Corey:

Yes, I do. I mean, academically, for sure. I think there’s a lot more, there’s
not the focus that there used to be, certainly in contra territory school. There’s a lot of offerings, it’s broader, and some of that’s good and some of that’s bad. But I think there’s a lot of good in that, too. I think some of the schools are much better in many ways, but I think there’s the, as always, there’s going to be some things that aren’t, you know, that you miss. But yeah, I think they get a great education.

The End!

Doug Monroe:

Perfect, it’s 3:30 and you can make your appointment. Thank you.

Allen Corey:

Thank you.

Doug Monroe:

See you on 60 Minutes.

Allen Corey:

How’d I do?

Doug Monroe:

You did awesome. I love it. I got so much good stuff from that, I don’t know what to do with it all.

Allen Corey:

No, you do.

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