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Deal delivers bigger territory for beer wholesaler Ace Distributing

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Ace Distributing opened a new distribution headquarters off Route 30 in Hellam Township, York County in May.
Ace Distributing opened a new distribution headquarters off Route 30 in Hellam Township, York County in May. - (Photo / )

A York-based wholesale beer distributor has doubled its regional footprint after taking over territory from a peer that closed last week.

Ace Distributing bought the distribution rights to Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry, Juniata, Lebanon and Mifflin counties from Harrisburg-based W&L Sales Co. Inc.

The deal took effect this week, said Jeffrey Reeder, president of Ace. W&L, which opened in 1933, shut down on Friday, according to a voicemail recording.

"When W&L decided they wanted to exit, we were the natural ones to get involved," Reeder said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Both wholesalers are aligned with beer giant MillerCoors and have been serving contiguous counties. Ace, which already distributes beer in Cumberland County, also sells products to retailers across Adams, Franklin, Fulton, Lancaster and York counties.

W&L officials could not be reached for comment on their decision to sell. The company also distributed beer in Centre, Clearfield and Huntingdon counties. Those territories were sold to other companies.

A layoff notice filed with the state under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act said 104 employees would be terminated as a result of W&L closing its facility at 4050 Industrial Road. 

Reeder said "quite a few" W&L employees have been hired by Ace, which now has about 150 employees. The company had about 110 in York County as of December.

In May, Ace opened a new distribution facility off Route 30 in Hellam Township, expanding its operations.

The company has no further expansion plans at this time, Reeder said.

Nonetheless, he expects that his company's portfolio will continue to grow alongside the booming craft-beer industry. Ace represents more than 70 breweries, including many craft breweries, and more than 1,500 brands of beer.

"We're always open to pursuing additional brands," Reeder said.

Small brewers often look at packaging firms, including mobile canning and bottling companies, to distribute their products beyond tasting rooms. And global brands such as Anheuser-Busch InBev frequently buy up growing craft-beer companies to add to their distribution network.

Meanwhile, liquor laws that regulate the beer industry in Pennsylvania continue to evolve. A new state law allowing distributors to sell beer in a variety of packaging configurations, including six-packs and single bottles, took effect at the beginning of the year.

Under previous law, distributors were allowed to sell in units no smaller than a 12-pack.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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Patrick August 8, 2017 7:33 pm

How w&l employees did they hire? My last count was 5. And they only brought the territory so the union employees would not be hired. Severance packages contained attachments that if ace hired them they would lose their severance

An anonymous reader August 8, 2017 7:06 pm

The deal wasn't disclosed because they screwed over 50+ employees out of their jobs and then kept most of the money. Some family company they were.

John Smith August 8, 2017 6:00 pm

Almost no employees were hired. 5 sales and management zero drivers