Jim and Doug Wanty to step down after nearly 50 years at the helm, daughters Kit, Jamie and Isabel and son Cooper to run company
YPSILANTI, Mich. — O&W Inc., an independent beer distributor headquartered in Ypsilanti, today announced the next generation of the family-owned wholesaler will take the reins of the company with the retirement of brothers Jim and Doug Wanty. Jim first joined the company in 1972 and Doug in 1983.
Kit Wanty will succeed Doug as president, Jamie Wanty will serve as vice president of marketing, Isabel Wanty vice president of human resources and operations, and Cooper Wanty vice president of finance.
“O&W has been a family-owned distributor for four generations, and I am thrilled that will continue under the new ownership as the fifth generation,” said Jim Wanty. “Kit, Jamie, Isabel and Cooper have been raised in the warehouse and have the knowledge and knowhow to move this company forward well into the future.”
Jim and Doug first took over the family business in 1990. Since then, they have grown the company by acquiring six other distributors, acquired several local, regional and national brands, added additional counties to its territory and built the 100,000 square-foot warehouse that O&W Inc. calls home today. The pair also oversaw a 35,000 square-foot addition to the building in 2012.
Jim and Doug were also champions of our industry and our local communities by serving on several committees and the board of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and dozens of non-profit organizations over their careers.
“The beer business has been in our blood for decades and I am happy to see our children step in and take the reins of O&W Inc.,” said Jim Wanty. “I have no doubt they will do great things and continue the legacy we have built over the years.”
With the transition, O&W Inc. will now have three women in leadership roles, which is rarity in a male-dominated business.
“I am excited and proud to serve as president of a company that is so respected throughout southeast Michigan, providing exceptional jobs to over 170 people, providing a premium level of service to our 2,400 licensed retailers and prioritizing giving back to the communities we serve,” said Kit Wanty. “The landscape of the beer industry has changed over the last several years and that includes recruiting and promoting women to take more prominent roles in beer distribution and throughout our organizations — and I’m proud O&W Inc. is part of that movement.”
“We have been blessed with a rare business dynamic and exciting product set as beer distributors. Our industry has few lulls, consistently evolves, and on top of that is highly regulated. It’s a huge privilege and responsibility to be a part of such a legacy in our local communities and the beer community.” said Jamie Wanty. “It’s truly an exciting day for our family and the entire team at O&W Inc.”
“This transition has been in the works for more than two years and it’s exciting to finally put it into action,” said Isabel Wanty. “I have learned so much from my sibling, cousins, father and uncle and can’t wait to put it to use and help our team face whatever challenges lie ahead in 2022 and beyond.”
“The beer business has meant so much to me and my family and I’m proud to continue the legacy we have built,” said Cooper Wanty. “Despite its challenges, 2021 was a great year for our company and I look forward to building on that success for years to come.”
In 2021, O&W Inc. moved more than 5.2 million cases of beer to retailers across a nearly seven county area in southeast Michigan stretching from Washtenaw County to Monroe County.
O&W’s portfolio includes beverages from MolsonCoors, Boston Beer Company, Mark Anthony, Constellation Brands, Heineken USA, FIFCO, New Belgium, Griffin Claw, and many more.
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