Feature Story

There is just a handful of delivery drivers and one sales professional at Heidelberg who are required to take their cars and delivery trucks on a 20-minute ferry ride every morning before their days begin! They are taking beer, wine and spirits to the popular Lake Erie islands: Put-in-Bay (South Bass Island) and Kelleys Island.

Skip Morrison is the Islands’ sales professional; driver Jon Lowery delivers to Put-in-Bay and drivers rotate delivering to Kelleys Island. So May through September is their “holiday season,” not October-November-December like the rest of the company! They work hard during the summer months, where vacationers and visitors spill over into island bars, restaurants and hotels.

Heidelberg entered the Lorain area market in 2008 when it acquired Goodman Beverage. Prior to that, Goodman had purchased Standard Beverage in Sandusky (1990), who in turn had just purchased the wine business from Anheuser-Busch’s Mansfield Distributing the year prior and created Mid-Ohio Wines. This, along with many new supplier/brand and distributor deals/acquisitions created our 14-county footprint in Northern Ohio.

In 2010, Heidelberg was the first company to carve out and renovate 170,000 square feet of the Lorain Ford plant, which had been shuttered for five years. We use 15,000 square feet for office and meeting space and the rest for warehouse and loading docks. Today there are three other companies occupying space in the former Ford plant.

The Lorain market services the 14 counties that are roughly located between Toledo, Columbus and Cleveland, including the popular Lake Erie islands. Approximately one million Ohioans reside in this area, however, during the seasonal summer months over several million visit the area to vacation and play at places like Cedar Point, Kalahari, Put-in-Bay, and Kelleys Island. We have 115 Associates operating out of our facility.

“As they say, people drink whether the times are good or bad, just differently,” says Executive VP/General Manager Kevin Knight. “Fortunately, because of our extensive portfolio of over 7,000 types and sizes of wine, beer, and non-alcohol beverages we are able to cover all of our territory with an amazing selection and variety of products.”

“Additionally, we are fortunate to have relationships with almost all of the top wine suppliers and a great mix of beer suppliers, positioning us for further growth via potential acquisitions and new product development.”

“Come on up to Lake Erie Vacationland!” says Kevin. “If any HDC Associate would like to visit the area (and several already have), just contact us and we can help with overnight arrangements, give advice and let you know what events are going on.”

Besides Cedar Point (“the roller coaster capital of the world”), the area’s huge summer attraction is one or more of the islands. You can choose between coastal hiking trails, sandy beaches, boating and fishing (including charter trips and tours), nature preserves and state parks, or just exploring towns and significant historic sites like the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. And of course, there are plenty of bars, restaurants and outdoor dining spots to enjoy! A good ”overview” website about the area is www.shoresandislands.com.

Here are several attractions worth exploring:
→ Cedar Point  (Sandusky area)
→ The Islands (Middle Bass Island, Put-in-Bay or South Bass Island, and Kelleys Island)
→ Kalahari Indoor Water Park (a good cool-weather alternative)
→ Firelands and Mon Ami Wineries, both located within a few miles of Lake Erie
→ Charter fishing trips and lake sight-seeing excursions, ferry boat or jet express rides
→ “Cheers Trail” of 18 wineries, craft breweries and distilleries
→ Rockin’ on the River concerts every Friday night through September 6
→ Lake Erie Crushers Horizon League baseball in Avon