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Heart of America, Premium Beverage merging, moving to Republic

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Springfield distributors Heart of America Beverage Corp. and Premium Beverage Sales yesterday announced they would merge and relocate their combined headquarters to Republic.

Heart of America President Harwood Ferguson said the family-owned business purchased seven lots in Brookline Business Park along State Highway MM in Republic about a year ago for undisclosed terms to build a bigger Springfield-area facility.

With the merger, Heart of America will move from its 63,000-square-foot 2860 S. Austin Ave. facility and Premium Beverage’s roughly 40,000-square-foot headquarters, 2855 S. Austin Ave., to new digs in Republic spanning 130,000-150,000 square feet. Heart of America will continue to operate a distributorship in Joplin.

“It was the land that presented itself,” Ferguson said, noting the new offices would be about five minutes away from its current headquarters. “This was the best buy.”

Declining to disclose the company’s planned investment in the new facility, Ferguson said construction is slated to wrap in fall 2017.

Effective Oct. 24, Premium Beverage will take on the Heart of America name. Ferguson said no money changed hands.

“This is a great deal for both companies,” he said. “There’s a a lot of good synergy on both sides.”

The combined company will be led by three members each of the Ferguson family and the Gelner family-owned Premium Beverage. Lance Foresee, a nonfamily member who was promoted to Heart of America CEO three months ago, will retain that position with the new company.

Combined with Premium Beverage, Heart of America will sell about 4 million cases of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages annually, employ more than 200 and represent around 45 suppliers. Representative brands include Coors and Miller products, Mother’s Brewing Co., Lagunitas and Samuel Adams.

Ferguson said the merger represents a trend among Coors and Miller distributors, following the combination of those companies in October 2007.

“There are advantages to scale. There are good reasons to bring it together,” said Ferguson, whose family currently runs a Coors distributorship. 

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