MARQUETTE - Pike Distributors, Marquette County's only locally owned beer and wine wholesaler, was started in 1937 by Mervin J. Pike.
In 1950, Stan Ketvirtis was hired and helped run the company when Mervin passed away in 1953. Current president, Joe Ketvirtis, began employment in 1974 with his son, Jack, current vice president, starting in 1999.
"We all went to Northern Michigan University," said Jack Ketvirtis of himself, his father and grandfather. "I worked in the warehouse just like my grandfather did, crushing cans and loading orders."
Pike Distributing, a distribution company for wine and beer, has facilities in Marquette, Newberry and Gladstone. Pictured here is the Marquette facility, which sits on U.S. 41 in Negaunee Township.
Jack got involved in the family business in order to continue the tradition of providing good-paying jobs in his community. Pike currently employs 40 fulltime staff members throughout the Upper Peninsula.
Community involvement is also important to Pike Distributors. "Pike has always been highly involved in the communities we serve," notes Ketvirtis. "We are proud of our involvement and sponsorships of many organizations and events throughout the U.P."
Some of their involvement includes Bay Cliff Health Camp, Marquette Area Blues Fest, Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic, Superior Bike Fest, Harbor Fest, Marquette Oldtimers Hockey Tournament and the U.P. State Fair to name a few. Pike is also a partner of the Lake Superior Community Partnership.
Pike currently has three warehouses in Newberry, Gladstone and Marquette and serves seven counties in the U.P. While many distributors work out of a single warehouse, Pike decided it was important to have three locations to better serve their customer base. They currently serve over 400 grocery stores, party stores, gas stations, bars and restaurants.
"We wanted to keep the hometown touch by having three warehouses in the U.P.," said Ketvirtis. "Our money stays here in the community instead of going down state."
Microbrews have become a big seller as customers seek out the unique local flavors that national brands can't provide. "Our sales staff is very knowledgeable and has years of experience," said Ketvirtis. "Our service sets us apart from other companies because we are local."
When it came time for the Ore Dock Brewing Co. to choose a distributor for their beer, Pike was an easy decision. "There are a lot of distributors in Michigan as a whole," said Ore Dock co-founder Andrea Pernsteiner. "But what we really liked about Pike was that they had a really good finger on the pulse of the local party stores and restaurants and they know a lot of the folks around here."
"We love working with Pike. The fact that they're right down the road is so convenient as well as it makes us feel confident that if there is anything we would ever need, they will be there," Pernsteiner added.
Presently, Pike distributes for two local breweries, the Keweenaw Brewing Co. based in Houghton and the Ore Dock Brewing Co. here in Marquette. Other Michigan beers include New Holland and Atwater. National beer brands include Labatt, Magic Hat, New Belgium and Pabst. Pike also has a wide variety of imports including Bass, Guinness and Stella Artois.
Wine brands consist of Alamos, Apothic Red, Barefoot, Boone's Farm, Ecco Domani, Edna Valley, Louis M. Martini, Redwood Creek, Red Rock Winery, Willam Hill and Wild Vines. A few of their non-alcoholic brands are Monster, Faygo and 1919 Root Beer.
Visit Pike's website at www.pikedistributors.com/ for a complete list of their products, a full company history and more information on their community involvement.
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