Memphis beer business swaps Nashville owners

Det Distributing joint venture buys Coors distributorship as Ingram-led DBI Beverage focuses on California operations

Two Nashville-based beer distributorships have finalized a deal that marks the entry of one into and the exit of the other out of the Memphis marketplace.

Det Distributing Co., which distributes Miller beer in Nashville and Jackson, has teamed up with A.S. Barboro Distributing Co., the Miller dealer for Memphis, to purchase the assets of Coors distributor DBI Beverage Memphis Inc. The seller is a unit of DBI Beverage Inc., based in La Vergne and owned by David B. Ingram, who is also CEO of media wholesaler Ingram Entertainment Inc.

Det and Barbaro announced the deal in a press release this morning. Its terms were not divulged.

Economies of scale appear to have motivated all parties to the transaction. The Det-Barbaro joint venture, which will operate under Barboro's name, expects to gain "more buying clout, which could allow all of us to save money on many purchases, from trucks to office supplies," said Fred Dettwiller, owner of Det.

DBI, meanwhile, hones its focus on the Northern California market, where it now owns eight distributorships. Ingram told this morning that all of those operations are profitable and enjoy healthy market share. Their total sales this year are expected to top $400 million, and Ingram said the 24 million cases of product they move in 2009 would place DBI among the nation's top 20 distributors by volume.

Ingram said Memphis served its purpose as he was starting DBI earlier this decade. The 2002 purchase of Crown Distributing Co. in the Bluff City, he said, "was our entry to a consolidating beer distribution industry that is hard to get into. We already had a major DVD distribution facility there, and we used part of that warehouse for beer distribution."

Ingram had tried to buy Barbaro in order to boost its market share in Memphis, but the company was not for sale and he was not interested in a joint venture, he said. "We applaud Fred Dettwiller for being able to get a deal done," Ingram added.