Chief executive officer, Anheuser-Busch Companies
Born: 1942, in Washington, District of Columbia.
Education: Boston College, BS, 1964; Columbia University, MBA, 1966.
Family: Son of an FBI agent (name unknown) and Carolyn Stokes; married AnnaKristine (maiden name unknown); children: three.
Career: Shell Oil Company, 1966–1967; Anheuser-Busch, 1969–1981, corporate planner; 1981–1985, vice president and group executive, materials acquisition; 1985–1990, head, food subsidiaries Campbell Taggart and Eagle Snacks; 1990–2002, president, brewery; Anheuser-Busch Companies, 2002–, president and chief executive officer.
Awards: Award of Excellence in Commerce, Boston College Alumni Association, 1991.
Address: Anheuser-Busch Companies, One Busch Place, St. Louis, Missouri 63118; http://www.anheuserbusch.com.
■ Over the course of 30 years Patrick T. Stokes worked his way up the corporate pipeline of Anheuser-Busch Companies, becoming president and chief executive officer in July 2002. His promotion to the top spot represented a break from 142 years of tradition in which a member of either the Anheuser or the Busch family had run the business. Known as a capable, no-nonsense manager, Stokes continued the Anheuser-Busch family tradition of pumping out both beer and profit. As the chief officer Stokes was in charge of an operation that included 12 United States–based breweries, producing more than 100 million barrels of beer a year under such labels as Budweiser, Michelob, and Busch. Stokes also oversaw the company's other interests, including the Sea World, Sesame Place, and Busch Gardens theme parks.
Stokes's colleague Steve Price told Adweek that Stokes was successful in the corporate world because he was not afraid to
delegate key responsibilities to his managers and could therefore stay focused on broader goals. "He lets his managers handle things, but he steps in when appropriate," Price told Richard Brunelli of Adweek . "He's very bright and he has a way of cutting to the heart of the matter."
A second-generation Irish American, Stokes was born in Washington, D.C., in 1942. An only child, he lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before the family settled in a working-class neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City in 1947. Stokes, whose father was an FBI agent, attended a local military high school run by Jesuit priests. He also attended Boston College, earning a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1964.
In 1965, between semesters at Columbia University, Stokes journeyed to Sweden to work. While there, he met his future wife, AnnaKristine. In 1966 Stokes graduated from Columbia with a master's degree in business administration. He found work as a financial analyst for Shell Oil Company but left in 1967 for a two-year stint in the Army, in which he attained the rank of first lieutenant.
In 1969 Stokes landed a job in corporate planning at Anheuser-Busch. Two decades later the former Anheuser-Busch executive R. S. Weinberg told Judith Vande Water of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that when he hired Stokes, he knew Stokes would go far. "I came home that night, and I told my wife I may have hired a future brewery president," Weinberg recalled. He described Stokes as "very sharp and very tough" (March 29, 1990).
Weinberg's predictions were correct. Stokes moved quickly into the company's inner circle. After only two years at Anheuser-Busch, Stokes became a personal executive assistant to August Busch III. Working alongside Busch from 1972 to 1974 Stokes had unlimited access to the inner workings of the company. In 1974 Stokes joined the brewery's policy committee, which acted as a group of advisers to Busch. That same year Stokes took responsibility for the company's raw materials acquisition and transportation operations. In 1981 Stokes became vice president and group executive in charge of materials acquisition.
As Stokes climbed the corporate ladder, his challenges grew. In 1985 he was tapped to lead the company's two food subsidiaries, Campbell Taggart, the nation's second-largest bakery firm, and Eagle Snacks, which produced roasted peanuts, chips, and pretzels to complement the company's beer. Campbell Taggart was a money guzzler when Stokes took over, but he managed to turn it into a profit center by revamping its production facilities and distribution systems. Under Stokes, Campbell Taggart generated profits for Anheuser-Busch second only to those of its domestic brewery division. Campbell Taggart later became The Earthgrains Company and was sold in 1996 to Procter & Gamble. "With Campbell Taggart, Pat turned a pig's ear into a silk purse," a former colleague told Vande Water (April 1, 1990).
Riding the tide of his success with Anheuser-Busch's food companies, Stokes was made president of the company's U.S. beer subsidiary in 1990. Although Stokes had never worked in the brewery before, during his five years at Eagle Snacks, he had built relationships with hundreds of beer wholesalers throughout the United States who also handled the snack line. These connections served him well as brewery president.
In 2002 Stokes became head of the brewery's parent company, Anheuser-Busch Companies, making him the first person from outside the families to run the business. Friends were not surprised. "Stokes is a guy who is well organized, someone who is capable of developing long-term strategies," Weinberg told Vande Water. "He is imaginative and creative, as well as being a good administrator" (April 1, 1990). These skills served Stokes well. Under Stokes's stewardship Anheuser-Busch demonstrated phenomenal growth. In 2003 the brewer sold a record 102.6 million barrels of beer domestically, marking 26 consecutive years of growth.
In a market that became increasingly competitive, Anheuser-Busch continued to hold its own and accounted for nearly 50 percent of the domestic beer industry. Budweiser, billed as "the king of beers," outsold all other beers combined: One in five beers sold in the United States is a Budweiser. The company had a 2003 fiscal year profit of $2.1 billion, up 7.4 percent on sales of $14.1 billion. Stokes felt the success in his pocketbook, earning a $3.1 million bonus in 2003.
Stokes made Anheuser-Busch into a respected entity. The company received accolades from Fortune . The company ranked first overall in quality of products and services among more than 500 companies in the magazine's listing of "America's most admired companies" for 2004. The list was compiled from surveys of 10,000 business leaders and securities analysts. In addition to his work at Anheuser-Busch, Stokes was a member of the boards of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, the YMCA of Greater St. Louis, and U.S. Bancorp and of the national board the Boys Hope/Girls Hope. He also served on the Boston College board of trustees.
Brunelli, Richard, " 'No-Nonsense Guy' to Lead A-B Brewing Division," Adweek , April 2, 1990.
Bruss, Jill, "August Busch III Retires," Beverage Industry , July 2002, p. 10.
Leahy, Molly, "Corporate Chieftains," World of Hibernia , Spring 1998, pp. 14–16.
"Public Company Profiles," St. Louis Post-Dispatch , May 17, 2004.
Vande Water, Judith, "Brewery Gets President: Patrick Stokes Will Replace Longtime Boss, August Busch," St. Louis Post-Dispatch , March 29, 1990.
——, "New Brewery Chief 'In Control'," St. Louis Post-Dispatch , April 1, 1990.
See also entry on Anheuser-Busch Company, Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories .