CEDAR FALLS — Consolidation was the name of the game for beverage distributors when Standard Distributing Co. sold out much of its business in 2000. Now, as the third-generation family owners have worked the past 17 years to transform the business into a warehousing and logistics company, the name of the game is diversification.
“Our growth was really limited by the suppliers,” said now-Standard Distribution Co. controller Larry Herzog of the beverage company. “By moving into warehousing, what we’ve been able to do is really distill our own destiny by being able to go after all different kinds of clients, and … we have a range of local, regional and national clients that use our services.”
The history of Standard Distribution Co. in the Cedar Valley dates back to its founding by Stanley Seroke as an alcoholic beverage distributor right after the end of Prohibition in 1936. Seroke’s daughter Joan Poe found it bittersweet to sell off the company’s beverage business in 2000 to focus on sister company Crystal Distribution Services.
But since that time both Crystal Distribution and Standard Distribution Co. have found success in warehousing. The former focuses on cold storage, and the latter focuses on warehousing and value-added services.
The Poe family still owns both businesses. Standard Distribution is owned and operated by Stan and David Poe, and fourth-generation family Andy Poe and Katy Poe Harbaugh are actively involved in Standard Distribution Co. today.
“We focus on diversifying as much as we can, so we’re always looking to diversify our business, which you can see from our beginning in the beverage industry to where we are today,” Andy Poe said.
Where they are today is a rapidly expanding business that works with 10 different industries, including agriculture, pharmaceutical, electronics and retail.
It has four locations in Cedar Falls, including a newly constructed building in the Northern Cedar Falls Industrial Park with access to a railroad spur the business expanded into in May 2015. And this past August, it returned somewhat to its roots by once again having a location in Waterloo.
“It’s kind of a sentimental location for us,” Herzog said of the Westfield Avenue location. “(Standard Distributing) originally began in that neighborhood of Waterloo back in 1936, and so it’s like coming home. It’s not the exact place; that’s been taken over by urban development long ago, but it’s kind of fun to have moved back into Waterloo.”
In its 17 years after leaving the beverage industry, Standard Distribution has grown from little more than 100,000 square feet to a footprint of 600,000 square feet in its Iowa locations, with another 100,000 right across the state’s border in Omaha, Neb.
It works with 15 to 30 companies annually and currently has about 85 employees. But due to its value-added services — the company also provides labeling, kitting and retail display assembly, among others — its employment fluctuates based on needs. The company has had as many as 120 employees.
Herzog attributes some of the company’s growth to the fact that throughout its history it has listened to its customers, made adjustments as necessary and then hoped to be the right business for another business’ needs at the right time.
And they expect they will continue to grow into the future.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to grow and diversify even further. We’re not afraid necessarily to take risks in that regard,” Harbaugh said.
“We have some things up our sleeve,” Herzog added.
More information about the company, its offerings and its history, is available at www.standarddist.com/.