The beer wars are heating up, and it’s not just Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors snapping up craft breweries; their big money distributors are consolidating and eliminating some of the smaller, nimbler competition, as Columbia Distributing purchases Marine View Beverage. The news comes shortly after Columbia Distributing announced it would purchase Oregon City-based General Distributors Inc. last week. Though the press release from Columbia’s sub-headline states, “Pac NW-based distributor affirms commitment to craft brewers, employees, consumers and the community,” it’s still sure to cause some layoffs, and small breweries will be scrambling to get their beer to market while Columbia picks up another MillerCoors distributor. Adding another wrinkle to this story is the fact that a court ruled Columbia Distributing owes three Washington distributors (including Marine View) a combined $21.2 million for picking up the Pabst Brewing distribution rights. Over $8 million was to go to Marine View Beverage, with additional monetary damages being sought in another trial set for December of 2018. This makes me wonder whether Columbia Distributing figured it was a better deal to just outright purchase Marine View than to pay the $8 million, and acquire a much bigger book while doing so? Marine View reportedly has a portfolio of more than 120 international, national, and local beer, energy, and water suppliers that will be added to Columbia’s book if they don’t opt out.
Catch up with our interview with Columbia CEO Chris Steffanci from last week.
More from the Columbia announcement:
“Columbia is a growth company and we all benefit from this – our employees, our brands, the consumer and the community,” said Chris Steffanci, Columbia’s president and CEO. “As a company with deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, we take great pride in the creation of 3,000+ living-wage jobs, offering exceptional beverage choices and variety for the consumer, and sharing our success through many community partnerships.”
“This acquisition drive’s Columbia’s brand promise: To provide ongoing, sustainable opportunities and growth for all. We’re purchasing a first-class industry leader and have tremendous respect for the business Marine View has built,” added Steffanci.
“From our humble beginnings to where we are today – it’s a proud yet bittersweet moment,” said Fred Bevegni, Marine View’s co-owner. “BJ [Bjerke, co-owner] along with our dear friend and partner, the late Lance Kahn, set out to form a company with a unique leadership model, outstanding customer service and superior employee competence. We hit the mark on all of those. Columbia is purchasing one of the best.”
COLUMBIA/MARINE VIEW ACQUISITION FAQ
What’s the recent news I heard about Columbia and Marine View Beverage?
Columbia Distributing has announced an intent to acquire Marine View Beverage. Marine View distributes product in seven counties across Western Washington. Marine View currently distributes approximately 7 million cases a year.
Why did Columbia purchase Marine View?
The deal furthers Columbia’s commitment to building brands and diversifying its portfolio. It’s driving Columbia brand promise to provide ongoing, sustainable opportunities and growth for employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders and communities.
What date will Columbia officially take over Marine View’s operations?
The transaction is currently scheduled to close on April 30, 2018.
Is Marine View changing its name to Columbia Distributing? If so, when?
All beverage distribution will be conducted under the Columbia Distributing banner.
How does this news impact current Marine View’s employees?
Columbia is assessing what additional personnel will be needed to service the accounts and territory it is acquiring from Marine View at the same outstanding service levels. The goal is to employ as many current Marine View employees as possible, including a number of Marine View’s key leaders.
Will Columbia utilize the current Marine View warehouses in Sumner, Poulsbo, Port Angeles and Tumwater, Washington?
Columbia is finalizing its operating model and expects to maintain most of the warehouses within these market areas, further demonstrating Columbia’s commitment to its customers and the community.
Some breweries may be concerned they’ll get lost in Columbia’s book or not get the attention they deserve…what should they know?
While breweries can choose any distributor that meets their needs, we’re confident Columbia has a lot to offer most every supplier. This includes the capabilities of our fully-developed Chain Team. Arguably one of the strongest in the country, they build brands across channels offering incredible choice and variety to customers and consumers. We also leverage our scale and have complete retail coverage across our geography that provides really strong service levels and the ability to get a case or keg of beer across Oregon and Washington in 24 hours. Yes, we’re a large distributor volumetrically, however we actually have the same, or in some cases, less total brands and SKUs than many other distributors in the Pac NW.
How does the purchase impact the regional beer landscape? Does this not make it more difficult for small breweries to reach the market?
We believe this will have no negative impact at all to the regional beer landscape. Oregon and Washington are two of the top craft beer markets in the US with a really knowledgeable consumer base that appreciates local beer, quality and community. We will always be focused on providing consumers what they want and small breweries play an incredibly important role in delivering against this need. We believe in brand building and have a successful history of providing small breweries great access to all the markets we do business in.
How does this acquisition benefit Marine View’s accounts?
We are dedicated to and strive to provide exceptional service to our accounts, which already includes many of Marine View accounts. This acquisition will allow Columbia to greatly enhance the service levels to our valued customers within Marine View’s territory
How will Columbia and Marine View’s suppliers get this news?
Leaders from each company are reaching out to their respective suppliers through phone calls and written correspondence. Initial reactions have been very positive.
About Columbia Distributing
Since 1935, Columbia Distributing has helped build some of the best known brands in the beverage business. Today Columbia Distributing and its 3,000+ employees service over 20,000 retail customers covering more than 135,000 square miles in Oregon, Washington and California. Columbia’s success is based on the deep-rooted tradition of delivering quality products, timely service and a genuine concern for customers’ needs. This is achieved by providing ongoing, sustainable opportunities and growth for its employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders and communities. For more information on Columbia Distributing, please visit www.coldist.com.