J. J. Taylor Companies, Inc. was founded in 1958 by John J. “Joe” Taylor. The Company started as a Knickerbocker Beer distributor servicing the greater Brockton area of Massachusetts with two trucks and nine employees. Joe Taylor brought 20 years experience with Jacob Ruppert Brewing Co. of New York to Brockton, and his beer distributorship thrived. In 1973, the Company acquired an adjoining Knickerbocker distributor that also had the Miller Brewing Company franchise.
The territory serviced by the Company grew to include all of Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod. At about the same time Miller Brewing Company started an aggressive marketing campaign for Miller High Life and shortly thereafter Miller Lite was introduced becoming the most popular Lite beer in the country. On the strength of these two brands the Company grew dramatically and in 1978 the Company built a new warehouse in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. In 1980, with a 45 percent share of the business, sales were approaching 5 million cases. However, sales declined steadily from that point on and with a very limited portfolio it was difficult to compete in this highly fragmented and competitive market. This division was sold in 2002.
The Company built a multi-market radio business beginning in 1983. It owned and operated radio stations in Portland, Maine, Hyannis, Massachusetts, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach, Florida. Due to its growing business base in Florida, the Company moved its corporate offices to North Palm Beach, Florida in 1988. The Company divested its interests in the radio business in 1994 to concentrate on the development and expansion of its core business of selling beer.
The Company has continued to grow since Joe began the business. In 1985, the Company acquired East Side Beverage in Minnesota. East Side Beverage began in the beer distribution business in 1933 in Northeast Minneapolis and was founded by two brothers who took to the streets selling Grain Belt and other local brands of beer from a model “A” truck. In the late ‘70s East Side became a Miller Distributor servicing the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area and sales grew to 3 million cases by 1983. When J.J. Taylor took over sales had been on a two-year decline. With its experience and systems the Company was able to more than double its sales within the next eight years, becoming the largest beer distributor in the state of Minnesota.
In November 1994 the Company acquired Gato Distributors which was established in 1965 as the Miller distributor for Dade and Monroe counties in Florida including Miami to Key West. Even though J.J. Taylor became the “First Choice” beer distributor for many customers and its employees and became a respected competitor in the very complex Miami market, it was never able to garner the market share needed to become consistently profitable because of its limited import portfolio. This business was sold in 2001.
JJ Taylor Distributing Company of Minnesota, still doing business as East Side Beverage Company in 1996, purchased Rex Distributing Company, a Minneapolis-based distributor, in November. This acquisition brought the balance of the Leinenkugel’s portfolio to the entire JJT of MN footprint, along with the leading Minnesota Craft Brewers of August Schell and Summit Brewing Company, a perennial local favorite, Grain Belt Premium, Candian Import Moosehead Lager, Australian Fosters, Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic, Bulmer’s Woodpecker Cider, and more—all sold throughout the Greater Minneapolis/St. Paul Market.
In July of 1997, the Company began operations in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area under the name of J. J. Taylor Distributing/Tampa Bay, Inc. by acquiring the local Miller distributorship. This distributorship was founded in 1940 to sell wine and beer in the Ybor City area of Tampa. In November 2000, the Company built a new state of the art 250,000 square foot warehouse in Tampa and bought a neighboring distributorship, which added the Coors brands, plus several import suppliers. The Company has prospered in Southwest Florida by hiring and training the best people available and by making superior customer service a core value. In 2004 the Company completed a 90,000 square foot addition to the Tampa warehouse. This expansion gave the Company room to install an automated picking and loading system, which will enhance productivity, order accuracy and customer service. With its diverse portfolio of brands the Tampa division is poised for dramatic growth moving forward.
In June of 2001, the Company acquired two separate Miller and Coors distributorships serving the Sarasota, Ft. Myers and Naples territories in Florida. In December 2004 the Company completed a 70,000 square foot state of the art warehouse in Ft. Myers, Florida. As a result of the acquisitions in Florida, the Company distributes beer brands from over twenty-five domestic and import suppliers. In June of 2003 the operations in Florida were combined into one business division named J. J. Taylor Distributing of Florida, Inc. The Company has 550 dedicated employees continuously striving to be the best in the beer business. With over 10,000 retail customers in the 13 Southwestern counties of Florida covering over 11,000 square miles there is always plenty of opportunities to make our customers happy.
In January of 2006, the dba (doing business as) of East Side Beverage was dropped. The name of J.J. Taylor Distributing Company of Minnesota, Inc. is being used to strategically align our company with our suppliers and national accounts.
In June of 2007, J.J. Taylor Distributing Company of Minnesota was appointed the distribution rights for brands from the New Belgium Brewing Company out of Fort Collins, Colorado. This include the brands Fat Tire, Mothership Wit, and 1554 Black Ale.
The Spring and Summer of 2008 saw the growth of JJ Taylor Companies in both Minnesota and Florida. In April, JJ Taylor of Minnesota added wine and spirits to its portfolio, sold and marketed by a separate division within the Company. In May, JJT of MN acquired its neighbor to the immediate South—Alcorn Beverage, of Lakeville, MN—thus expanding its footprint for Miller Coors Brewing Company, Green Mountain Beverage Company, Breckenridge Brewing Company, and Finnegan’s Brewing Company to include the key areas of the Greater Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area that lie South of the Minnesota River. The Alcorn purchase also included new products formerly distributed by Alcorn in the Southern Area, as well as North of the River into what was historically the “JJ Taylor Footprint:” Sprecher Brewing Company, Tyranena Brewing Company, Brau Brothers Brewing Company, and Bard’s Tale Brewing Company. In June, JJ Taylor of Florida acquired distribution rights to 2 million cases on the east coast of Florida from Theis Distributing. With the acquisition JJT of FL set up its third sales center in Stuart, Florida to distribute to the area just north of West Palm Beach, FL.
JJTMN’s Core Sales & Marketing foot print was expanded with the Alcorn acquisition. In Spring of 2008, just prior to this acquisition, New Belgium Brewing assigned JJTMN an adjusted territory that resulted in a secondary, expanded territory. NBB became the cornerstone of our expanded—and growing– portfolio which extends to the Iowa border and 2-3 Counties farther West of our Core Sales & Marketing Area in Minnesota, from North to South.
In early 2008, JJ Taylor Distributing Company of Minnesota announced the purchase of a new warehouse, and on September 8, 2008, JJ Taylor of MN moved into that new facility, located in Northeast Minneapolis—the former Dayton’s/Macy’s Furniture Warehouse—following six months of reconfiguring it to fit our needs. This move more than doubled the previous leased warehouse space (3 buildings) in Arden Hills. The new warehouse is 600,000 Square Feet, including a 27,000 Square Foot Cooler for kegs and non-pasteurized Craft Beers.
Organizationally, each business division operates individually under the direction of a President/General Manager. The Company’s Corporate headquarters and training center located in Jupiter, Florida, provides leadership, oversight and administrative staff support services.