Brewing success

David Lockshin added 9,000 square feet to his new warehouse facility last year on the hope that his beverage distributor, Fame Beverage Co., would land the contract to deliver Coors brand beers to Stark, Tuscarawas and Holmes counties.

Perhaps the folks in Golden, Colo., recognized that commitment. After a grueling three-month approval process, Fame Beverage won the contract, and the extra warehouse space did not go unused.

“It was a risk,” Lockshin says. “But we knew it was better to take the risk than not take the risk.”

Lockshin purchased the rights from a competitor to distribute Coors, the country’s third largest selling beer. But the brewer had strict guidelines to follow before it awarded Fame Beverage its coveted brand.

“It was a major process,” Lockshin says. “There was a lot of Excel programming and proving what resources we put toward the brand, how many man-hours and people. There was a wholesale development coordinator — he’s the one who approves or disapproves the process — who had a checklist of 400 things we needed to do.”

The brewer required Fame Beverage to maintain one sales manager for every four sales reps, which increased its work force from 48 employees to 75 last year.

“Coors’ major competition is Miller and Budweiser, especially Budweiser, and they want to go after those guys,” Lockshin says. “They don’t want to give it to a distributor and have them just milk the brand. They want to make sure you’re going to move it forward. That’s what the test is.”

In addition to Coors, Massillon-based Fame Beverage distributes beer brands including Samuel Adams, Molson and Great Lakes, and wine and nonalcoholic beverages.

Adding brands and keeping up with the latest beverage trends has helped Fame Beverage maintain its strength over its 71-year history.

“There used to be only four kinds beer in the area,” Lockshin says. “When these new beer brands would come into the area, like Samuel Adams and Great Lakes, we would be the first guys to distribute them.”

Lockshin recalls talking to Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch in the late 1980s when he managed to sell 40 to 50 cases a month for the then unknown Boston-based brewer. Today, he moves 2,500 to 3,000 cases a month.

“You have to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the beverage industry by reading and talking to people,” Lockshin says. “You find out what’s coming out of the East Coast and West Coast and look at those brands and go after them, because nothing usually starts here in Canton, Ohio.” How to reach: Fame Beverage Co., (330) 879-1888