MINGO JUNCTION - Yuengling brand beer will be sold in Ohio starting Oct. 3, and its availability at local restaurants and retailers will be in large part thanks to Choice Brands of Ohio.
Nick Latousakis, president of the local distributor, said he found out six months ago of Yuengling's intention to move into the state. When individuals at Yuengling got together to decide who was the best fit for the different regions of Ohio, it was decided on Anheuser-Busch distributors, which made Choice Brands a perfect fit.
"We had four amazing people from our affiliate company, Beverage Marketing Corp. - Sarah Duffield, Andrew Standardi, Cathy Peterson and Debby Surtik - who were instrumental in giving us a first-class presentation," said Bob Chapman, Choice Brands senior vice president.
READY FOR DISTRIBUTION — Bob Chapman, senior vice president of Choice Brands of Ohio, left, stands with President Nick Latousakis in front of a stack of Yuengling Light Lager cases ready for distribution on Oct. 3.
-- Jeremy Kins
Choice Brands will offer Yuengling Lager, Yuengling Light Lager and Yuengling Black and Tan to start, with plans to bring Lord Chesterfield Ale, as well as Yuengling Premium and Premium Light, to the market in the first quarter of next year. Yuengling Bock will be introduced in February.
According to Latousakis, Chocie Brands has a 79 percent market share, one the highest percentages in the country for an Anheuser-Busch company. Yuengling's Drive for Five campaign looks to add another 5 percent market share, and Chapman thinks that's entirely possible with the staff.
"We are very blessed to have the work force that we have. They all work well together. It's definitely one of the things that helped us shine when Yuengling checked the market."
Choice Brands is aware of the struggles today's market presents, however, and that makes officials even prouder of the company's accomplishments.
"We're going against so many headwinds- high unemployment, less expendable income, higher poverty - it's a lot to go against. When you see the team's performance it's remarkable and it makes you proud," said Chapman.
Latousakis said Choice Brands has brought in two weeks projected orders worth of stock, which equates to 13 tractor-trailers, or 18,000 cases of beer.
As of now ,they are tentatively looking to add some square footage to the warehouse to store Yuengling, but they want to see how early sales go and how much demand there is.
The distribution center staffs 30 employees that make runs on seven to 11 routes per day with 18 trucks. Latousakis said the business site in Mingo Junction is getting ready for the new deliveries, having five of the trucks painted and rebranded with the Yuengling logo.
They've been building the company for 30 years. Choice Brands started with storing 125,000 cases of beer and has one million today.
Chapman said, "You do that through good owners. You do it with good staff. Most important, you do it with drive."
Yuengling is the oldest operating brewery in America. The company is in 15 states now, including Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
(Kins can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)