Local family-owned Heidelberg Distributing to be sold to Maryland firm

Heidelberg CEO Vail Miller Jr. (File photo by Amelia Robinson)
Caption
Heidelberg CEO Vail Miller Jr. (File photo by Amelia Robinson)

Beer industry report estimated value of the deal at close to $1 billion.

A Maryland-based private equity investment firm is ready to buy Moraine’s Heidelberg Distributing, company principals confirmed Sunday.

The owners of Heidelberg Distributing have agreed to sell their business to Redwood Capital Investments, according to a company statement sent in response to questions from the Dayton Daily News.

The move comes after Redwood’s acquisition this summer of independent Anheuser-Busch wholesaler Pepin Distributing in Tampa, Fla., and more than two years after the purchase of Houston-based Silver Eagle Distributors. Redwood has also invested in another Anheuser-Busch distributor, Chicago’s Lakeshore Beverage.

A warehouse operations worker at Heidelberg Distributing moves pallets of beer in July 2013 inside the company’s then-new distribution center in the former Cooper Tire building in Moraine. FILE PHOTO BY CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Caption
A warehouse operations worker at Heidelberg Distributing moves pallets of beer in July 2013 inside the company’s then-new distribution center in the former Cooper Tire building in Moraine. FILE PHOTO BY CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

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Vail Miller Jr., chief executive of Heidelberg, and Albert Vontz IV said in a joint statement that the Miller and Vontz families have agreed to sell Heidelberg Distributing and Ohio Valley Wine Co. to Redwood, a permanent holding company.

“During the transition, our top priority remains partnering with suppliers, serving our customers and driving our business forward,” the two said in their statement Sunday evening.

After the transaction’s closing, the company’s non-shareholder management team continue to lead the business, and the current sales, operational, and administrative teams will remain in place, they said.

Terms of the transaction were not announced. A beer industry newsletter put the value of the deal at close to $1 billion.

“Both our suppliers and customers will continue to receive the same excellent service they have come to expect from Heidelberg and Ohio Valley,” Miller and Vontz said. “We are working hand-in-hand with Redwood and know they have the right experience, knowledge, resources, and commitment to preserve the Heidelberg legacy and lead the company for generations to come.”

Heidelberg spent $20 million to renovate the former Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. warehouse in Moraine before moving its Dayton-area operations into that facility in 2013.

By 2015, Heidelberg employed about 1,400 people and distributed beer, wine and low-powered spirits to restaurants, bars, grocery stores and other retailers in much of Ohio and Kentucky

In 2017, Heidleberg scored a national shout-out by landing a “Top 10 in the U.S.” ranking from a respected industry publication. Wines & Vines Magazine listed the top 10 wine distributors in the country in its September edition that year, and Heidelberg made the list at number 6. The list included some distributors that dwarfed Heidelberg in size.

The Heidelberg web site says the company today has more than 1,600 employees, with 717 suppliers serving 26,000 retail accounts across Ohio and Kentucky.

The family-owned company started with German-born brewer Albert Vontz, who arrived in Cincinnati in 1907. After the Prohibition era, he drove a truck for the Heidelberg Brewery in nearby Covington, Ky. He kept the Heidelberg name when the brewery went out of business.