~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.