LAKE DELTON — Preferred Distributors, the beer wholesaler located in a business park here, will be closing at the end of the year as part of a larger merger of distributors in Wisconsin.
On Nov. 30, Scott Thompson, the CFO of Preferred Distributors in Lake Delton, sent a notice to the Department of Workforce Development that the facility at 101 Miller Drive would close Dec. 31 and that 41 full-time employees as well as three part-time employees could lose their jobs.
Preferred Distributors sells Miller, Leinenkugel’s, Heineken, Beck’s, Foster’s, Pilsner Urquell, Sprecher, Berghoff, Amstel Light, Newcastle Brown Ale, Gray’s, Okocim, Clausthaler, Dab, Nicolet & Sparks, Peroni and Monster Energy Drink.
Dave Hellmen, one of the six owners of Preferred, said the company intends to sell all its assets. He said it has signed a letter of intent with Frank Beverage Group to sell its facilities in Prairie du Chien, Sparta, La Crosse, Marshfield and Rice Lake areas.
“It’s my understanding that the buyer intends to run that territory from its Middleton operation,” Hellman said, adding that he thought the Frank group would keep employees from Lake Delton, although some would have to commute to Middleton.
Hellmen said he did not know a timetable for the other facilities. He said the Prairie du Chien area eventually would be run out of Middleton but the facility there still would be needed as part of the operation. Sparta, Hellman said, eventually would be shut down and a new facility in La Crosse would be used.
According to its website, Frank Beverage Group has grown from a grocery store to a two-person operation to employing more than 350 people in multiple locations across the state. “The company operates in Wisconsin as Frank Liquor Company – Madison, Frank Liquor Company of La Crosse, Frank Beer Distributors Inc. – Middleton and La Crosse Beverage LLC.”
The building in Lake Delton is owned by Tom and Dan Hanson, owners of C&H Distributors who sold the business to Preferred Distributors three years ago and who are also two of the six owners of Preferred. Hellman said it would up to the Hanson what happened to the building.
The state’s Department of Workforce Development and the South Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board will assist employees who are laid off because of the sale.
In the notice to the state required by law, Thompson said employees would be paid wages and benefits “up to the time of their termination.”