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The Tennessean: When Life Gives You Grapes, Make Wine

July 6, 2012


From The Tennessean:

John Hooper realized a couple of years ago that his 72-year-old wine and spirits distributorship, aptly named Tennessee Wine and Spirits, was caught in a fast-changing industry — one in which consolidation and multistate mergers were likely to become the rule.

Big bucks and deeper pockets would be required to compete with the likes of billionaire Warren Buffett.

Yes, a subsidiary of the legendary investor’s Berkshire Hathaway investment fund had just purchased an Atlanta-based company called Empire Distributors, a booming operation with high-tech GPS routing equipment that operated in Georgia and North Carolina, shipping booze, wine and beverages to stores.

Other deals were looming, even within the state of Tennessee.

Buffett’s deal was announced in March 2010. Sixteen months later, Hooper (a salesman by trade and a wine lover by choice) sold his family business to rival distributor Lipman Brothers, and it was absorbed into a much larger business.

Hooper felt he had no choice. He sold Tennessee Wine and Spirits at what he considered the top of the company’s game, but also at a time when continuing as a family operation would have required him to modernize, build a new warehouse and expand to keep pace with competitors.

. . .

To read more visit, The Tennessean.


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