The Pearce Beverage Co., once the oldest continuously operated business in Mesa, has been sold, ending 93 years of family ownership.
Assets of the wholesale beer distributor have been sold to New Orleans-based Crescent Crown Distributing, said chairman and CEO Arthur L. Pearce II.
The sale does not include any property such as the 284,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in east Phoenix the company built in 1999. All of the company's employees will remain, and the business will continue to operate under the Pearce Beverage Co. name, Pearce said.
“My family and business partners consider this the right time to diversify our holdings by selling to people who are highly experienced, capable spirits and beer wholesalers,” he said. Pearce said he plans to remain in Arizona and continue involvement in “community causes and institutions that my family has enthusiastically supported for decades,” such as Arizona State University and the Phoenix Zoo.
The company traces its roots back to 1911 when Zebulon Pearce, Art's grandfather, bought into a farm-produce business in Mesa. In 1915, the company opened a general store in a former livery stable on Main Street in downtown Mesa, supplying feed and seed, garden supplies, clothing and other products to the home and farm market prevailing in the Valley at that time.
After prohibition was repealed in 1933, Pearce became the Phoenix-area distributor for Coors beer, largely because his business was one of the few in the Valley with refrigeration capacity.
The Pearce family continued to operate the general store on Main Street until 1978 when new shopping malls caused a general exodus of retailing from downtown Mesa. The store was converted to administrative offices for the beer distribution business, which became the company's sole focus. Zeb Pearce died in 1969 at the age of 92. By then, sons Arthur Sr., Norman and Charles had become involved in managing the company. In the early 1980s the third generation assumed management positions. Arthur II became president in 1983 and cousins Norman Jr. and Robert also took high level jobs.
The company ended its long history in Mesa in 1999 when the Main Street office was closed, and employees moved to the new complex at 402 S. 54th Place, Phoenix. Over the years the firm has added other beer products to its lineup including numerous imports — Corona, Heineken, Amstel and others. The company expanded further in 2001 when it merged with Miller Brands of Phoenix to become the wholesale distributor for those products, too.