Five gene BY CAROL TRAVERSE red boxes a sea of B carefully l Every Anh Son facilit "When pe portfolio, communit The comp Ryan and Herman C business c after five The broth years. Ma They're in and local producers rations of wh L THOMPSON E CITY — Case s. They overlo Bud Light. The lowered by fo heuser‐Busch ty, as do a nu eople think of " said Ryan R ty since 1933 pany's 100,00 Mark Ribel's Cox launched continued pa generations. hers grew up ark is now com n charge in th brews in 199 s such as Bell holesaling at H cthompson@ es of Budweis ook a green st e cases fill H. C orklifts and sh product sold mber of wine f H. Cox & Son ibel, vice pres 3." 0‐square‐foo great‐great g the wholesal ssing down th in the busine mpany presid e era of a boo 4 after purch s, Corona and H. Cox & Son @record‐eagl ser tower in t teeple of 16‐o Cox & Son's w hipped to bar d in a 60‐mile es, sodas and n, they might sident of the ot warehouse grandfather s le company in hrough the fa ss, crushing c ent, and Ryan oming craft b hasing anothe d Sierra Neva e.com | Post the chilly war ounce Rolling warehouse on s, restaurants radius of the craft beers. t think Anheu company. "W harkens back tarted the bu n 1933, the sa amily, and no cans and stoc n is vice presi beer industry. er area whole da. ed: Tuesday, ehouse at H. g Rock cans, o n Sawyer Roa s and stores i e warehouse c user‐Busch, bu We're also loc k nearly a cen usiness on Eig ame year Pro w rests in the king shelves f ident of mark . The compan saler and pic December 23 Cox & Son, a orange pillars d in Grawn, w in northwest comes throug ut we have su cal. We've bee ntury to when ghth Street in ohibition was e hands of Ry from their ea keting. ny started sell king up accou 3, brick wall of of Shock Top where they ar Michigan. gh the H.Cox uch a big en part of thi n co‐owners Traverse City repealed. The yan and Mark arly teenage ling imported unts with f p and re & s y. e d H. Cox & Son took on the brands before their popularity skyrocketed. It was risky back then because those brands were declining, they didn't have a real large market share," Ryan said. "Fortunately, over the years those brands have done extremely well for us. It was kind of a risk at the time, but it was probably the best investment the company ever made." Craft beer may be gaining market traction, but Bud Light still accounts for 20 percent of H. Cox & Son's beer sales. Ryan said craft breweries are starting to sell more beers in cans and as variety packs, and cider is gaining fast popularity. The company saw consumer tastes in wine shift over the last 20 years. It sells more than twice as much now as it did in the mid‐1980s, when most wine H. Cox & Son sold came in low‐cost boxes or jugs. "Just like with craft beer, the more you drink different kinds of wines the more your palate becomes accustomed," Mark said. "You pick up a taste for better tasting wines." Technology advances impact the company, too. Sales representatives can see how much inventory their customers sell, recommend specials and help reach breweries' and wineries' sales goals. Technology also helps account for every case, six‐pack and wine bottle in the company's warehouse. That's no small task considering the company's inventory of 90,000 cases in the winter and 150,000 in the summer. Busy summer nights can bring major reconstruction to the colorful edifices of beer, as crews sometimes move more than 20,000 of cases per‐night when thirsty tourists flood the area. "We go from filled to the brim to very, very empty," Mark said. Recycling also takes up warehouse space. H. Cox & Son picks up the cans and bottles customers return for their 10‐cent deposit, then bring them back to the warehouse where the aluminum cans and plastic bottles are packed into bricks and glass is churned into shards. Mark said collecting recycled cans shows how wholesalers are vital to the beverage industry. "Without wholesalers, who picks up the empties at Joe's party store?" he said.