Valpo Beverages was founded in 1939 by Gail Pool, Rollo Pool, and Ezra Stoner. Ezra Stoner served as our President from 1939 until 1961. Miller and Old Crown were among our first brands that were sold. The company merged with City Beverage, another local wholesaler, in 1941. We were successful in obtaining franchise rights to other beer in the forties. The most significant of these was Pabst which we began distributing in 1944.
Our top selling brands during the forties and early fifties were Old Crown from Fort Wayne, Champagne Velvet from Terre Haute, and Atlas Prager from Chicago. The company suffered through hard times during the early fifties and was close to closing the doors in 1953. Our savior was the Falstaff Brewing Company who entered the Indiana market in 1954 and appointed Valpo Beverages as their wholesaler. Falstaff soon became the number one seller in Indiana and maintained that leadership until the mid-1960's.
Harlin Leetz began working and took over the operation of the company in 1962. He served as the President until 1970. Pabst Blue Ribbon flourished through the sixties when it broke with its advertising theme: "Premium Beer at a Popular Price." It was the area's leading seller from the mid 1960's through 1981. At one time, Pabst held almost 40% market share in Porter County.
Due to the growth of Porter County and the tremendous increase in sales of our brands, the company outgrew its warehouse located on Indiana Avenue. We moved into a new warehouse on Elm Street in 1969. Bruce Leetz, who began working at the company in 1963, was appointed President in 1970.
During the seventies, Miller Brewing Company began its selling and marketing of Miller Lite. All of the Miller Brands increased in sales during this era. In 1975, R.C. Cola and Nehi flavors were added to our lines. Once again, the company outgrew its facilities and added an addition to its warehouse in 1977.