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POLAR BEVERAGES

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					~22~                                   March-April 2004                           the Soda Fizz


            POLAR BEVERAGES
    Polar Beverages, New England’s
largest independent soft drink bottler, is a
fourth-generation, family owned business
that traces its roots back to the year 1882.
    It all started with the J.G. Bieberbach
Company, importers of seltzer water and
bottlers of ginger ale and mineral water
out of Worcester, Massachusetts.
    In 1916, Denis M. Crowley, the great-
grandfather of the present owners of
Polar Beverages, bought the wholesale times in the company’s history, Polar
bottling division of the Bieberbach firm. Beverages were bottled in other Polar
    Two years later, in 1918, he purchased owned plants in Boston, Massachusetts
the Leicester Polar Spring Company, and Hartford, Connecticut, while offices
successor to the Arctic Polar Spring and warehouses were maintained in
Company. The combined business became Springfield, Massachusetts.
known as the Bieber Polar Ginger Ale            In 1950, the third generation of the
Company.                                     Crowley family, which included brothers
    In the early years of the company, sale Ralph D. Crowley, Sr., Edward D.
of bottled water accounted for a large Crowley, James C. Crowley and Denis M.
percent of its business. The addition of the Crowley, led the company. Entrepreneur-
Leicester Polar Spring Company was             ial chairman Ralph Sr., took Polar’s
important to the business                         management reins.
because its assets included the                        In 1962, Edward D. Crowley, son
rights to the use of a spring in                  of Denis M. Crowley, and grand-
Spencer, Massachusetts, which                                   father of present owners
provided an abundant source of                                  of Polar died. He was
pure spring water.                                              extremely active in the
    Because        of      the                               business from its inception
exceptional quality of the                                  with his father to his death.
spring water, flavored                                     During his life time, techni-
soft drinks were                                      cal advances in bottling machin-
added to the                                          ery moved rapidly and he made
plant's produc-                                       sure Polar kept up with the
tion. Among the                                       changes.
first flavors produced were                                In 1966, Polar Corp. became
Pale Dry Ginger Ale, Cola,                           the official name of the company.
Orange Soda and Root Beer.                          This change was made to correct
    The company headquar-                               the impression that ginger ale
ters remained at the site of                              was the only product mar-
the old Bieberbach firm,                                  keted by the company.
113 Summer Street in                                           In 1968, all operations
Worcester. At various           Orson the Polar Bear consolidated into one plant,
the Soda Fizz                        March-April 2004                                  ~23~

     which is the present and pri-                              number of private-label
     mary place of operation, at                                products in a 500,000
     Worcester, Massachusetts, a site                           square-foot production facil-
     strategically located in the cen-                          ity.
     ter of the Northeast market-                                    In 1998, the company
     place.                                                     growth required incremen-
        In 1988, the fourth genera-                             tal warehouse space. After
     tion of Crowley’s led by Ralph                             much thought and many at-
     Crowley, Jr. and his brother                               tractive relocation offers
     Chris Crowley, led tighter                                 among other New England
     consolidations in the family                               areas, Polar decided to re-
     business. Polar, at the time, was                          main in Worcester, Massa-
     a $16 million entity, selling its                          chusetts and renovate the
     own Polar sodas and                                        Cookson Performance Plas-
     water, as well as private-label                            tics plant on Southbridge
     soft drinks.                                               Street.
        In 1992, after 25 years in the family       The renovation brought an old
     business, Ralph Crowley, Jr. became         industrial site back to life, ensuring
     President and CEO, and his brother          permanent employment for over 600
     Christopher Crowley became the Execu-       residents and bolstering the regions
     tive Vice President and Treasurer of        economy. The Worcester Chamber of
     Polar Beverages.                            Commerce awarded Polar with the Silver
        In December 1996, Polar Beverages        Hammer award for the renovation and
     acquired a long time competitor,            restoration of the former plant.
     Adirondack Beverages of Scotia, N.Y. The       In May 1999, Polar Beverages acquired
     company manufactures products which         Venture Distributing, the leading New Age
     includes the Adirondack, Waist Watcher      distributor in the Boston marketplace.
     and Clear & Natural brands, as well as a    Venture’s portfolio of strong door-
                                                 openening New Age brands included
                                                 brands such as Nantucket Nectars and
                                                 Arizona. This aquisition allowed Polar
                                                 cold drink access to over 3,500 pieces of
                                                 equipment.
                                                    By the end of the 90s, Polar had
                                                 completed twenty acquisitions, expanding
                                                 into a five-division, "super-regional"
                                                 organization. Polar’s brands include
                                                 Polar and Adirondack carbonated soft
                                                 drinks and spring waters; DPSU national
                                                 brands, i.e., Sunkist, 7UP, A&W and
                                                 Royal Crown and New-Age brands such
                                                 as Nantucket Nectars and Arizona.
                                                    In September 2001, Polar Beverages
            Polar Beverages headquarters         formed an alliance with another long time
              1001 Southbridge Street            competitor, Cott Corporation. The new
                  Worcester, Mass.               partnership is known as Northeast Retailer
~24~                                   March-April 2004   the Soda Fizz

Brands, LLC. Polar gained a considerable
amount of production volume, while con-
tributing private-label customers includ-
ing over a dozen grocery chains and ware-
house clubs. All shared retail branded soft
drinks continue to be produced at Polar’s
Massachusetts and New York bottling
plants, each plant is about 500,000 square
feet in size.
    Polar Beverages continues to carry on
their tradition since 1882.

				
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