General Distributors/GDI to Sell to Columbia Distributing

General Distributors–recently rebranded as GDI–has signed a letter of intent to sell to Columbia Distributing, Oregon’s largest distributor and one of the biggest in the country. The announcement from CEO Steve Irwin says that General has signed a letter of intent to sell all of the company’s stock to Columbia. Shortly after the announcement was made, a source from one of General’s smaller Oregon breweries expressed disappointment in the decision and suggested it would lead to more than one brewery going out of business. Sources also indicate that much of General’s staff–including upper management–was caught unaware and many may be out of a job. Stay tuned for more coverage on this important breaking industry news and what it means for Oregon breweries. Read the rest of the formal announcement below.

Press Release: General Distributors was established in 1921 by the late Charles A. Fick, Sr. and his brother George Fick, Sr. who started the company by selling candy, cigarettes and cigars. Following the repeal of Prohibition, General began selling the Olympia beer brand and has since moved its headquarters from Portland to Oregon City, expanded its portfolio and currently employs 170 full- and part-time staff. General’s major suppliers include MillerCoors, Constellation, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and General maintains an extensive portfolio including craft breweries, ciders, as well as wine and non-alcoholic beverages.

Columbia Distributing merged with Mt. Hood Beverage and Gold River Distributing in 2008 to form Columbia Distributing as it is known today. Following the acquisition of California’s Mesa Beverage Co. in 2015, Columbia is now one of the country’s largest malt beverage distributors with major suppliers that include MillerCoors, Constellation Brands, Pabst, Mike’s Hard Lemonade as well as an extensive selection of specialty craft and imported beers, non-alcoholic beverages and ciders.

“Our family has enjoyed many years of success in the beverage distribution business and developed strong and lasting relationships with many of our retail and supplier partners. We would like to thank all of our employees for their hard work and commitment to the Fick Family,” said Charles Fick III, President General Distributors. “We are pleased to have found such a great partner in Columbia to continue providing quality beverages to Portland and surrounding communities,” Charles added.

PINTS LLC, a beverage industry consulting firm, acted as an advisor to the General Distributors’ ownership group in its agreement with Columbia. The companies expect the transaction to close at the end of March of 2018.

General Distributors Inc. (GDI) is an Oregon based company that provides wholesale distribution, sales and marketing of beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages. General Distributors has been in business for over 96 years with headquarters in Oregon City, OR. For additional information about General Distributors, please visit or call 503-656-9470.

Columbia Distributing (CoHo) is a Portland, Oregon based company that provides wholesale distribution, sales, and marketing of beer, non-alcoholic beverages in Washington, Oregon and California. For additional information about Columbia, visit or please call 503-289-9600

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Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: