Virginia Beer Distributor Celebrates 50 Years of Delivering Choice and Value
Blue Ridge Beverage Company, Inc., based in Salem, Virginia, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Although the company began business in 1938, the Archer family has led Blue Ridge since 1959, working with Blue Ridge’s hardworking employees to deliver choice and value to consumers throughout its Virginia territory.
“Over the years, no matter how large we were, we have been blessed with good people who have shared in our vision and worked very, very hard to make it a reality,” reflected Blue Ridge Beverage President and CEO Robert "Bob" Archer.
Blue Ridge started with just ten employees and five brands. Today, the distributorship employs 350 individuals and services a 49-county territory with 120 brands of beer. Blue Ridge distributes more than 6.4 million cases of beer annually – an achievement Archer attributes to Blue Ridge employees and the distributorship’s licensed retail partners.
“In all our actions and celebrations recently – we have underscored the fact that we would not exist today without our outstanding workforce and employees,” said Archer. “You must seek them out, train them well, and compensate them accordingly. The beer distribution system, fortunately, allows us to do that very thing.”
A recent Roanoke Times article highlighted the warm relationships among Blue Ridge employees with a special focus on one employee, Bernie Richards, who worked at Blue Ridge for more than 30 years before his recent passing.
Archer is also quick to acknowledge Blue Ridge’s suppliers and retail customers. “We have been blessed with creative and progressive suppliers over the years regardless of the constant mergers and acquisitions that go on at that level, now even globally,” continued Archer. “I especially do not want to minimize the support and relationship we have developed over the years with our customers – without them, there is no business.”
Many beer distributorships throughout the country are family owned and run businesses – and all are locally-operated. James Archer and his wife Regine purchased Blue Ridge Beverage in 1959, and the company has remained in Archer hands since. After James Archer passed away in 1972, Regine stepped in as president. This move was especially significant given the small amount of women in the beer distribution industry at the time. Regine served the industry so well that she earned an NBWA Life Service Award. Today, she serves Blue Ridge as Chairman of the Board.
Bob Archer today runs the company with other family members including Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer James E. Archer and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jacqueline L. Archer. He also serves on the NBWA Board of Directors and chairs the Political Action Committee.
Archer recognizes the advantages that working with his family provide not only his business, but also the community. “The one major positive impact of the family business model is our ability to become totally engaged in our communities in both charitable and political perspectives,” said Archer.
Blue Ridge is recognized as a responsible business in its local community and has earned praise from Roanoke County officials. “We are thrilled to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Blue Ridge Beverage and are proud of their many accomplishments over the past 50 years. As a small business, their growth has been tremendous and we recognize their success as one of Roanoke County’s finest corporate citizens,” said Doug Chittum, Roanoke County’s director of economic development in a Roanoke Times article.
Blue Ridge also makes responsibility initiatives a top priority. Blue Ridge is a member of the Blacksburg Community Coalition on Alcohol, an organization that brings students from Virginia Tech and the community of Blacksburg, Virginia, together to address alcohol abuse issues. Additionally, Blue Ridge has worked with the Virginia ABC commission to supply posters to retailers that highlight effective ID checking procedure in order to help prevent underage purchase of alcohol. Finally, Blue Ridge consistently sponsors alcohol-free after-prom parties for high school students.
With 50 years in the books, and business strong, it appears Blue Ridge can anticipate many more years as a quality employer and good corporate citizen, providing choice and value to many consumers in Virginia.
“Blue Ridge Beverage looks forward to working with its many trade partners for years to come while continuing to give back to the community through ongoing work with charitable organizations throughout our service area,” Archer concluded.