North Carolina Distributor Expands with Craft Beer Sales
Tryon Distributing Co., based in Charlotte, North Carolina, was formed in 1985 as a small company with three employees, delivering primarily fine wines in just one van and a station wagon in three counties. Fast forward 27 years and beer is now 46% of the company’s business. It has evolved into a craft beer and wine distributor that employs 198 people and serves the entire state.
Ten years ago, Tryon Distributing Co. moved into a 92,000-square-feet space and President Brad Johnston thought they would be set forever. This October, the company is moving into an additional 28,000 square feet that will house their sales offices and serve as storage space for the company’s empty kegs.
“I never thought that we would be selling 400 to 500 craft beer kegs a day,” Johnston said. “This has caused us to have to expand to better manage the empties.”
As an early fan of craft beer, Johnston fondly recalls when the company brought Anchor Steam across the country for distribution in Charlotte in the 90s. Since then, he has seen craft beer’s popularity take off. With the state’s passage of “Pop the Cap” legislation in 2005, a wide selection of higher gravity beers from an even broader array of brewers could be distributed in North Carolina.
Expanding beer education is a key priority for the company, which employs 35 Certified Beer Servers and two Certified Beer Cicerones. Beer Brand Manager Chris Angel has developed a “Beer 101”class that the company has used to train retail customers in both on and off-premise channels. For these efforts, and the company’s overall commitment to promoting craft beer, Tryon Distributing Co. was honored with the 2012 Craft Beer Distributor Recognition Award.
While Asheville, North Carolina, has been nationally recognized as a multi-year winner of the “Beer City U.S.A.” title, Johnston notes that he has seen consumers’ craft beer knowledge blossom in markets across the state – from Charlotte to the Research Triangle, where the World Beer Festival is held, to the coast. This growing consumer appreciation for craft beer is undoubtedly playing a major in Tryon Distributing Co.’s success.