Life roars through us! That has been the spirit of Heidelberg Distributing since Albert W. Vontz began his beer distributing company in Dayton back in 1938. Vontz came to the United States as a trained brewer from Hanover, Germany, at 22 years old in 1907 and invested in two local Cincinnati taverns. Both of his businesses did well until Prohibition began in 1919 and the Great Depression followed. After helping to open the Vienna Brewery in Cincinnati in 1933, Vontz sold his share of the company to his brother-in-law and in 1938 invested in the Dayton delivery branch of the Covington, Kentucky-based Heidelberg Brewery Company. The brewery was known for its Student Prince and Heirloom beers and Vontz, who named his company Heidelberg Distributing Company, drove from Dayton to Covington and back to bring the beer to his thirsty customers. The Heidelberg Brewery closed in 1946, but Vontz’s distributing company remained open. “Heidelberg Distributing kept the name because we couldn’t afford to repaint our delivery trucks and come up with new signage if we changed the name,” said Heidelberg Distributing CEO Vail Miller, Jr. Vontz’s only child, Albert W. Vontz, Jr., became active in the business in 1947 after returning home from World War II, where he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. The younger Vontz had earned a graduate degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati and looked for ways to grow and expand Heidelberg Distributing and the company has been growing ever since!
In the 1950’s, wine products represented a large part of the Dayton operation’s sales.In 1961, Heidelberg Distributing purchased the Dayton Budweiser distributorship to go along with the purchase of the Anheuser-Busch branch in Cincinnati in 1959. Today, Dayton and Cincinnati Anheuser-Busch InBev divisions combine to sell nearly 11 million cases of beer annually. In 2011, Heidelberg combined to sell 21 million cases of all products: beer, wine, spirits, water, and other non-alcoholic beverages. What began in 1938 with Albert W. Vontz and a single route from Covington, Kentucky, to Dayton has grown into facilities in Dayton, Cincinnati, Evendale, Columbus, Lorain, Cleveland, and Toledo in Ohio, and Hebron and Louisville in Kentucky, with 1,400 associates. As a company, Heidelberg handles more than 13,000 different products and over 20,000 retail accounts! The Miller and Vontz families, both third and fourth generation owners, are actively involved in Heidelberg’s day-to-day operations. In 2013, Heidelberg Distributing will celebrate its 75th anniversary and is proud to be a Dayton Original!