LAWRENCEVILLE – Pecht Distributors, Inc. sold its beer distribution rights and related assets to Chesapeake, Virginia-based Hoffman Beverage Company, Inc. on Nov. 1, 2021. Hoffman is one of the largest Anheuser-Busch beer distributors in Virginia. In a separate real estate transaction, Pecht also sold its beer warehouse located at 301 Park Street to Hoffman. Pecht retained ownership of its office building, shop, and wash bay located at 514 New Street. Hoffman plans to operate the Pecht territory out of its existing facility in Chesapeake and to use the existing Pecht warehouse in Lawrenceville as a delivery service hub.
The Pecht family has owned and operated businesses in Lawrenceville since 1929, when Isaac Pecht, along with his son Robert F. Pecht, Sr. and daughter-in-law Frances Pecht, founded Brunswick Ice & Coal Company, Inc. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Anheuser-Busch approached the Pechts about accepting a beer franchise since they owned an ice company and most beer at the time was perishable and required refrigeration. The ice company was later sold in 2010 to Holiday Ice Company, Suffolk, Virginia.
Along the way, Frances and Robert’s son, Bobby Pecht, Jr., joined the family business. The Pechts also owned Pechtgas Service (bottled gas) and a furniture store in downtown Lawrenceville, where the Brunswick County IDA is currently located.
Siblings Robbie Pecht and Cindy Pecht are fourth generation owners and managers of Pecht Distributors. They have been with the company for 40 years and 30 years, respectively. Robbie came to Lawrenceville from the Charlottesville area, where he attended the University of Virginia for both undergraduate and graduate school and was employed as a high school teacher and track coach. Cindy came to Lawrenceville from Baltimore, Md., where she attended Johns Hopkins University, and then remained in the area for a number of years to work in finance.
Hoffman approached Pecht about acquiring the business, in part, due to Pecht’s success in leading the state in beer sales increases for five consecutive years. In addition, the Pecht Distributors employees enjoy a reputation of being among the very best in the business. Most of the full-time employees are transitioning to Hoffman Beverage.
Like Pecht Distributors, Hoffman Beverage is a family-owned business with a long multi-generational history. Hoffman Beverage was founded in 1919 and is a distributor for the Anheuser-Busch portfolio as well as a number of national, regional, and local craft breweries in Southeastern Virginia. Katherine Hines currently serves as President of Hoffman Beverage.
The decision to sell was a difficult and painful one. Cindy lamented that the last few months have been one of the most trying times of her life. “It’s no secret that I am considerably attached to our people and consider them family in every sense of the word. I am profoundly saddened by this turn of events.”
Robbie commented that, “we had such a great group of people working with us that it made our jobs so much easier and enjoyable as well. Everyone worked so well together in helping each other and filling in for each other while at the same time being dedicated to the best interests of each retail customer. They created a wonderful camaraderie that we will all miss.”
Robbie plans to retire in Lawrenceville and is looking forward to traveling around the country with wife Becky Akers to visit their children.
Cindy plans to seek employment and looks forward to beginning a new career as well as spending more time with husband Keith Clarke and their family.
Robbie and Cindy are very pleased that most of their great employees will continue to work together out of the Lawrenceville area. They sincerely wish everyone in the newly expanded Hoffman Beverage Company the very best and much continued success.
Editor’s Note: I want to express heartfelt appreciation to Cindy and Robbie for help with this article. They shared photos from their last beer together at Pop’s Bar and Grill in Lawrenceville. Pecht Distributors has been a loyal supporter of the Brunswick Times-Gazette since I started working with the paper in 1997. I have enjoyed serving with both in the Lawrenceville Rotary Club, Brunswick Chamber of Commerce and other organizations. They have watched my grandchildren grow up, always interested in what they are doing. We know that change is a part of life but change can be hard. I think Cindy expressed it best as “having mixed feelings”, sad to see the company sold, very concerned about the future of their employees and excited to begin a new chapter in life. She assured me that they aren’t going anywhere and that is good to know. Sylvia Allen