Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

Area to get new Coors distributor

July 5, 2007

A Jayhawk in spirit is taking over as Coors distributor for Lawrence and surrounding communities including Eudora.

Salina-based Crown Distributors LLC is buying Jayhawk Beverage Inc., of Topeka, and DeBauge Brothers Inc., of Emporia, in a deal that will make Crown the largest Coors distributor in the state.

By acquiring Jayhawk Beverage -- whose service area includes Lawrence, Eudora, Tonganoxie and other nearby communities -- Crown will supply beverages from Coors and Boulevard brewing companies, plus a handful of other products that include Mike's Hard Lemonade, Seagrams Coolers and Smirnoff Ice and Smirnoff Twisted.

The deal, in the works since 2005, closes July 13.

"The Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia market -- that had acquisition written all over its face," said Mark Ritter, Crown president. "We see nothing but huge opportunities, because of the (area's) growth."

With the acquisitions, Crown's annual distribution will go from 856,000 cases to 1.6 million cases, Ritter said. The totals include Red Bull products, which the company will distribute in all of its markets except Lawrence.

Crown plans to retain employees from both Jayhawk Beverage and DeBauge Brothers Inc., boosting Crown's total employment from 32 to at least 60.

While Kelly Frakes, Crown's vice president, will serve as the company's general manager for the Topeka, Emporia and Lawrence markets, Ritter won't miss many opportunities to make the trek from Salina to Lawrence. He attended Kansas University in 1978-1984. While in Lawrence he worked at what was then a Coors distribution center on Haskell Avenue in southeastern Lawrence.

Now that he'll have business in Lawrence once again, he'll have a little more on his mind when he comes to town for KU football and basketball games.

"It's going to make it twice as fun to visit Lawrence," Ritter said.

Owners of Crown Distributors are Ritter and his sister and brother-in-law, Karrie and Richard Sullivan; and Frakes and his wife, Gail. Among communities already in Crown's service area: Salina, Junction City, Manhattan and McPherson.

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