Bonbright to merge with Springfield-area beverage distributor

Credit: Jim Witmer

Credit: Jim Witmer

A deal two decades in the making, Dayton’s Bonbright Distributors is merging with Springfield’s Bobby Fisher Distributing, Brock Anderson III, chairman and chief executive of Bonbright, said Thursday.

“We’ve done a few big deals in our company’s history, but this is the biggest,” Anderson said.

The transaction makes Bonbright the third largest beer distributor in Ohio.

With this deal, Bonbright is projected to distribute more than 10 million cases of beverages companywide in 2023, he said. For perspective, when Anderson’s father, Brock Anderson Jr., bought the business in 1983, it then distributed less than two million cases on an annualized basis.

Bonbright stands as the only locally owned beverage distributor in the Dayton area, Anderson said. (Brock Anderson Jr. died in early 2020.)

Anderson is shying away from the word “acquisition” here. He said Fisher will continue to use its name and serve its traditional territory in Clark, Auglaize, Shelby counties and beyond. Owner Maria Fisher will continue to be involved with the business, he said.

“It was a long time in the making,” Anderson said of the deal. The two families tried to make it happen but were not able to come to terms until now.

He declined to put a monetary value on the transaction.

The overall Bonbright business dates back to 1934. The Anderson family bought the company in 1983, and most of its expansions since then have happened around Dayton, but the company does have an operation in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

When the Anderson family acquired Bonbright in the early 1980s, there were 14 locally owned beer distributors in the Dayton-Springfield area. After this deal, Bonbright will be the last locally owned distributorship — “Which I think is pretty cool,” Anderson said.

While this transaction doubles the company’s non-alcohol business, more than 90% of what Bonbright distributes is still beer.

“I never thought I’d be selling as much water and stuff,” Anderson said with a laugh.

“It took us a while to really get into a growth trajectory,” he added. “When you’re a Dayton company I think you have to fight and claw for every inch you get over the years. This is a culmination of the hard work we’ve put in.”

Some of the suppliers involved include Corona, Boston Beer (known for the Sam Adams family of beers), Heineken and others, he said.

Bonbright has about 125 employees in Dayton, and more than 80 in Pennsylvania. Fisher has about 70 employees.

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