Budeke's celebrates 125th anniversaryBusiness anniversaries are boring....

Budeke's celebrates 125th anniversary

Business anniversaries are boring. Apart from the company's owners and a certain coyote, who cares that Acme Explosive Bird Trap Co. has just marked its 15th year of shipping defective merchandise?


The exception is when corporate anniversaries start creeping into three figures. Lasting 100 years is an impressive achievement when so many businesses never survive to celebrate a first.

Even more noteworthy is a company that has managed to hang on in one location for 125 years. That's why Maryland's top politicos, including Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, will be headed for Fells Point tomorrow at 4 p.m. to pay homage to Budeke's Paints Inc., which has been painting the town red and every other color from its South Broadway location since 1868.


Judging by the tenure of its owners over the years, there must be something about paint fumes that promotes longevity.

Budeke's has had only four presidents in its history. George H. Budeke founded the company just three years after the Civil War ended and died in 1909. His son, George M. Budeke, took over and ran it until 1956, when he passed the presidency to his son-in-law George Gardner. Mr. Gardner ran the company a mere 13 years, the shortest tenure for any Budeke president.

In 1969, Mr. Gardner's son-in-law, Louis V. Koerber, took over, and he's still going strong.

Under his leadership, Budeke has branched out to two more locations -- 6658 Reisterstown Road in Baltimore and 2145 Greenspring Drive in Timonium. "We certainly will always be mindful of opportunities and we always will be looking to expand further," Mr. Koerber said.

With Mr. Koerber, 66, approaching retirement age, a fifth generation of family ownership is being groomed. L. Bryan Koerber, Louis' son, joined the business in 1988 and is now a vice president. Louis said his son already has made his mark on the business by introducing a computerized point-of-sale system two years ago.

Mr. Koerber said that with the arrival of warehouse-sized players such as Home Depot and Hechinger's Home Projects Centers, competition has become fiercer than ever in the paint business. Budeke's competes by taking part in the All-Pro buying group, which deals with suppliers on behalf of 82 independents nationwide, he said.

The celebration tomorrow is for invited guests only, but customers can take advantage of an anniversary sale that will continue through the month, Mr. Koerber said.

Eisner snares Baltimore Zoo account


After 12 years of nesting with the W. B. Doner & Co. advertising agency, the Baltimore Zoo has decided to migrate to Eisner & Associates, a zoo official said yesterday.

Patrice Malloy, the zoo's marketing director, said Eisner won the account after a review that included Doner.

"Sometimes change is good for an organization," she said, praising Doner for being "very generous" to the zoo over the years.

Eisner will handle the zoo account on a pro-bono basis, as Doner had before it. While the account isn't a money-maker, firms compete aggressively for the business because it can provide considerable exposure.

It also gives firms a "chance to do some fun, creative advertising," Ms. Malloy said. Under the contract, Eisner will develop a full marketing campaign for the zoo, including television, print, radio and billboards.

U.S. breweries to make ice beer


Whether there's a demand or not, here comes the latest fad in brewing. It's called "ice beer," and it could be the biggest thing since clear beer.

Impressed by the success of the concept in Canada, Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Miller Brewing Co. jumped on the bandwagon yesterday by rolling out their own versions of ice beer: Anheuser-Busch's Ice Draft Bud and Miller's Icehouse. The Ice Draft Bud will make its debut in 13 Western states, with national distribution set for early next year. The Miller product will get a tryout in Lansing, Mich., and Oakland, Calif.

In ice-brewing, beer is slowly fermented, then filtered using a sub-freezing process that lets ice crystals form, enabling the brewer to remove "harsh-tasting polyphenols."

That's nice, though it's disturbing that for all these years brewers have been selling us beer with harsh-tasting polyphenols and we never even noticed.

The ice-brewing process was pioneered in Canada, where leading breweries Molson and Labatt are going head to head in court over the right to market "ice" beers. Molson is also rolling out its Canadian Ice in the United States.

Ice beers are purportedly richer and smoother than your typical beer. The alcohol levels of 5 1/2 -6 percent are generally slightly higher than typical American beer, though Anheuser-Busch says its ice beer is about the same as its regular Budweiser at 5 percent because its process "retains the ice crystals." (Translation: water added.)


Ice beer has captured an estimated 11 percent of the beer market in Canada, and some industry experts are predicting a big hit. Others are skeptical about whether success in a country that plays football with 12 players translates into success in the United States.

Incidentally, clear beer seems to be going the way of the Edsel. Miller announced last month that it had pulled the plug on its Miller Clear after sales in test markets went flat.