(Bellaire, MI)—The brewer and distributor relationship is often stigmatized as competitive and difficult. Two well-known entities are working against trend. Imperial Beverage and Short’s Brewing Company began a relationship in 2004 on the simple understanding that Shorts would make as much beer as they could, and Imperial would sell it. What began with a few kegs each week has now increased to multiple trucks per week, and after endless upgrades pushing the capacities of both companies, both are reinvesting in their communities.
Recent announcements of Shorts production expansion plans, coupled with Imperial Beverage’s new facility purchase of the former American Greetings location in Kalamazoo, Michigan, both companies cite their partnership as a catalyst for new business growth, economic development of their areas, and new jobs. (Shorts plans to upgrade their Elk Rapids, Michigan facility to double the production capacity. Already underway and completed in time for the summer rush, the $2.5MM expansion will include a number of new tanks, packaging equipment, quality control and storage facilities, and will add 15 jobs. Imperial Beverage has recently acquired a new 600,000 sq ft warehouse in Kalamazoo that will allow for the extra product that Shorts is creating.)
Growing alongside Michigan’s craft beer industry, Short’s has made impressive progress. Michigan Craft grew an impressive 21 percent between 2009 and 2010 (Midland Daily News). Sales of Michigan crafts nearly doubled from $11.2 MM in 2007 to $22 MM in 2010. Short’s Brewing Company has grown at a rate that outpaced all of its peers, attributing the beer distribution system in Michigan as one of the primary factors.
Jon Wojtowicz, known as Short’s Brewing’s “Beer Liberator”, had this to say. “Our company has experienced exponential growth in half as much time as most companies of our size and age. Imperial Beverage has not only been able to keep up with our rapid pace of expansion, but has also been able to expand with us during this incredibly short amount of time. Efficiently supplying long-time supporters with our every expanding product portfolio, increasing volumes for those who have been anxious for more, and forging into new territories doubling and tripling our overall number of accounts.”
Sales of terrific Michigan beers, like Short’s, are up. So is responsibility and moderation. Cheers to collaboration, and a business environment that fosters it.