Beer giant Pete Coors delved into his family history on Wednesday, gave insight into his company's merger with Molson and said he probably won't run for political office again.
"You learn one thing in politics: Never to say 'always' and never to say 'never,'" the former Senatorial candidate told the more than 400 students and community members packed in the Lory Student Center's East Ballroom.
But, he added, "I think I've done what I needed to do in that arena."
Coors – the keynote speaker at CSU's 27th annual Business Day – shared advice and tips he picked up working in the family business.
"Enjoy what you're doing," he said. "Life is short. The older you get, the shorter is seems. I tell our folks, 'If you're not enjoying what you're doing, go find something else.'"
Coors, chairman of the Coors Brewing Co. and vice chairman of Molson Coors Brewing Co., started working for the company at age 14.
"I couldn't get paid because of child labor laws," he said jokingly. "But it gave me something to do over the summer."
His great grandfather, Adolph Coors, was born in 1847 in Germany and became an orphan at age 10. His third apprenticeship was with a brewing company.
Eventually, he came to the United States to escape the economic and political hardships under the Kaiser, Coors said.
In 1873, three years before Colorado became a state, Adolph Coors invested his $2,000 savings into The Golden Brewery, a company he would later buy out.
The rest is history.
By the time prohibition hit Colorado in 1914, Adolph Coors was worth $2 million, a massive amount considering a day's wage was about a dollar.
Pete Coors said his company is committed to social responsibility and promotes responsible drinking.
"I feel very good about our industry and especially our company when it comes to social responsibility," acknowledging that he sells a product that can be abused.
Although he added that "a lot of the misuse of alcohol is spirits-related and not beer-related."
In February 2005, Coors Brewing Co. merged with Molson Inc. and became the fifth largest brewery in the world.
"We wanted to have more of a sense of control of our destiny," Coors said. "The merger went very smoothly. The companies are (both) operated pretty much the same as before."
After World War II, the company decided light beer was the way to go, Coors said.
"Rather than having someone have one or two really strong beers, it would be great for them to have a six pack," Coors said, explaining his company's decision to spearhead the light-beer market.
Coors was the final speaker at the Business College Council-sponsored Business Day, which featured several other prominent speakers, including Art Zimmer, senior vice president of Oppenheimer Funds, Inc., Chuck Dopfel, information technology manager at Bose Corp. and Chris Gilmore, marketing manager at Proctor and Gamble.
Business Day is "a day to do a lot of learning that you can't do in the classroom," said Crystal Plant, BCC president. "It's important to have that outside perspective."
Joe Echols, a junior finance major, said he didn't follow parts of the Coors speech.
"I actually got lost during the whole beer thing; I don't drink," he said. "The merger was news to me."
Coors said that above all, one must have a strong sense of moral principles.
"There's no such thing as ethics if you don't have a foundation in principles. My ethics come out of my Christian beliefs," the beer baron said. "I'm not a Bible thumper, but I know that when I get into a challenging spot, I know what to rely on."