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Spriggs Distributing Company was founded in Ironton, Ohio, in 1933, in a lean-to garage. It was one of the first distributorships to acquire a license to distribute beer in Ohio after the end of Prohibition. Guy Spriggs started the operation as a Falls City and Gambrinus distributor and acquired the rights for Anheuser-Busch products in 1934 to serve retailers in Southeast Ohio. That same year, the Spriggs family entered the Kentucky market through Ashland, Kentucky, covering 10 counties. However, the entire territory was eventually voted dry, ending the Spriggs family’s first foray in the commonwealth.
Guy Spriggs passed away in 1944, leaving his business to his widow, Faye Spriggs. Their son, A.G. “Sonny” Spriggs, assumed management of the company upon his return from the Air Force in 1945. As a young man, Sonny had attended Purdue University where he was a Big Ten boxing champion in his freshman year, but he left school to fight in World War II. He was a P51 Mustang fighter pilot with the 353rd Fight Group in England, and he was awarded numerous military honors. The year after he came home, Sonny purchased the business from his mother and opened a new warehouse in 1947. He expanded his operations in Ohio with the acquisition of River City Distributing in Portsmouth in 1955.
Sonny was a leader in Ohio beer distribution, becoming President of the Wholesaler Beer & Wine Association of Ohio in 1963 and 1964. Spriggs Distributing ran quietly but successfully until 1973, when Sonny turned over day-to-day management of the company to Jim Pauken after they completed yet another acquisition, this time of Howard Distributing Company. Sonny’s sons, William Guy Spriggs and R. Scott Spriggs, became the third generation of the family to enter the business. The Spriggs family completed a new warehouse in 1978, and closed their Portsmouth, Ohio, location 1981, consolidating the Ohio operations under one roof in Ironton.
The 1980s once again saw growth and expansion for the Spriggs family. When Boyd County, Kentucky, made the sale of alcohol legal again in 1980, Guy Spriggs branched off from the flagship enterprise and set up shop in the commonwealth as Eagle Distributing Company. Guy acquired the Anheuser-Busch brands in 1981 and began expanding his Kentucky business rapidly through that decade.
Also in 1980, Sonny Spriggs and Jim Pauken entered the West Virginia market in Huntington, West Virginia, with Allied Beverage (a Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, and Hudepohl distributor). Within a few years, there were numerous distributors in the Huntington market, including Anheuser-Busch distributor Central Distributing. In 1985, Sonny and James merged Allied and Central, forming an entity also named Eagle Distributing Company.
The individual distributorships in each state ran separately despite common ownership and a close geographic proximity. Each company in each state had separate teams and independent local level management. In 2003, the Eagle Kentucky operation added a new partner from within its management team ranks, G. Casey Hill. Hill started in the Ashland, Kentucky, location in 1994, serving in a number of different positions before becoming a partner after just nine years in the business.
On October 20, 1999, Sonny Spriggs passed away at the age of 75. Sonny’s passing was a difficult moment for the tri-state companies. However, his sons Guy and Scott built upon his legacy, working together with Casey Hill to begin consolidation of all of the distributorships.
By 2009, the company began an exciting new chapter with the formation of Triple Crown Beverage Group. The men blended the best practices from each state’s operations to create an elite beer distributing organization. Their hard work paid off. Suppliers recognized them with numerous awards, culminating in the Ambassador of Excellence award from Anheuser-Busch in the summer of 2013. The World Famous Budweiser Clydesdales delivered the bronze Clydesdale statue “Big Jake” to the tri-state that summer in a celebration of the achievement.
With an eye on the future, Casey Hill and the management team acquired an adjacent distributorship, Mingo Bottling Company, in Williamson, West Virginia, in 2013. Mingo, like all of Triple Crown Beverage's operations, was a family business. Founded by the Gentile family, it first began servicing the southern West Virginia coal region in the 1940s. The family atmosphere of Mingo Bottling was a natural fit for Triple Crown.
In 2016, Triple Crown Beverage Group acquired the combined distributorship Proud Eagle Inc. in Charleston and Parkersburg, West Virginia. This was the largest acquisition in company history, including two new warehouses (one in the state’s capital of Charleston and one in Parkersburg). Together today, Spriggs operates three warehouses that cover all or parts of 20 counties in the Mountain State.
With the acquisition came another name change. In a nod to the company founder and the descendants who ensured it flourished, all operations reverted to the original Spriggs Distributing Company moniker.
In 2017, the partners decided West Virginia should be the centerpiece and focus of the future of the business. The Spriggs brothers and Hill made the difficult decision to sell the operations in Ohio and Kentucky and embark on a new journey in West Virginia, one more than eight decades in the making. Since the company’s founding, Spriggs has remained passionate about excellence in distribution. The company has always focused on maximizing retail execution across all the key measurable areas through an advanced, technology-based selling approach that’s steeped in strong retailer rapport developed over many years of quality service.
The consistent model for this family of wholesalers remains true to this day. It is the model of a complete wholesaler, one not only focused on the execution of business plans, but on providing a banner of leadership for the various communities we service. This means being involved, serving on many local boards and giving back. As Guy Spriggs, our current Chairman likes to say, “We have been and will remain not only a family business, but a business of families.”