USA: Columbia Distributing acquires 97-year-old General Distributors

Columbia Distributing, one of the largest beverage distributors in the United States with over 250 alcoholic brands and nearly 60 non-alcoholic brands, today announced it will purchase all stock of General Distributors, Inc. (GDI), based in Oregon City, Oregon. The transaction is expected to close on March 31, 2018.

GDI was established in 1921 and has since then being run by the family, now in its fourth generation. The nearly 100-year-old company employs 170 full- and part-time staffers and represents a portfolio of more than 100 international, national and local beer, energy and water suppliers including Constellation Brands, Mark Anthony Brands, MillerCoors, and dozens of craft beer companies.

 “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," said Charles Fick III, GDI's president, in a press release. "We are pleased to have found such a great partner in Columbia to continue providing quality beverages to Portland and surrounding communities.”

The acquisition will allow Columbia to align its distribution operations in contiguous service areas around the Portland Metro Area – from the state’s capital of Salem to Hood River, Oregon – where GDI has been distributing many of the same products.

“The move also allows us to expand numerous brands where we see strong growth potential,” said Chris Steffanci, Columbia’s president and CEO. “GDI’s long history of service in this region doesn’t go unnoticed,” added Steffanci. “They’ve been a fierce competitor and have done a lot over the years to demonstrate the value of the three-tier system.”

Steffanci just took over the helm at Columbia Distributing as of January 2nd, 2018 and succeeded industry legend Gregg Christiansen, who served as the company’s CEO for the last 15 years before retiring at the end of last year. Only a few days after the change, Columbia was fined to pay a combined $21.2 million to three Washington wholesalers, as determined by an arbitrator ten months after Pabst Brewing Company prematurely terminated distribution agreements with them. (, 3.1.2018)

About Columbia Distributing

Columbia Distributing is one of the nation’s leading beer, cider and non-alcoholic beverage distributors. Since 1935, the company has distributed 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.

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