Our Story: How Fritz Distributing Began
Robert “Chick” Fritz, the largest beer distributor in Southern Illinois, was founded on July 1, 1947, in Mascoutah, Illinois. Following the death of his employer Fred Schopp, young Chick Fritz purchased Schopp Distributing. The newly formed Robert “Chick” Fritz held distribution rights for Oltimer Beer and Stern Brau Beer, brewed locally at the Star Brewery in Belleville, Illinois.
Chick envisioned a different kind of distributorship – a company that would focus on the needs of the customer offering friendly, reliable service. Unlike larger distributors of the day, his company would not apply pressure or arrogant demands on its customers. To provide a daily reminder of this goal to his staff, he adopted the tagline “Your Friendly Distributor.”
Many retailers and restaurateurs still used old fashion, non-electric ice boxes. So, along with their beer deliveries, Chick Fritz and his crew would deliver blocks of ice. These ice blocks would maintain the quality of the beer, as well as other foods offered to the public.
Just as the use of modern appliances spread across the region ending block ice deliveries, consolidation and expansion of the microbreweries began to change the structure of the beer industry. The 1950s brought a series of mergers, buyouts and expansion strategies that would continue for 30 years.
Then, in 1954, Carling Brewery purchased Griesedieck Western and awarded the distribution rights of Carling Black Label and Red Cap Ale to Robert “Chick” Fritz. As the beer portfolio of the distributor grew, so did the territory with the addition of the remaining communities in St. Clair County, plus the Monroe and Randolph Counties.
The growth of regional beers to national distribution enabled Southern Illinois consumers to enjoy a greater selection of beers. In 1957, Robert “Chick” Fritz added Miller Brewing Company products to their portfolio of beers.
New and unique beers continued to be introduced throughout the 1970s. Miller Lite, one of the first and most popular light beer products in the nation, was introduced in 1972. Then, when Coors was launched in Illinois in 1985, Robert “Chick” Fritz was awarded the Coors Brewing franchise.
In 1986, the distributor reached an impressive milestone of 1 million cases delivered annually. The company has continued to grow their portfolio of beers and service territory. Twin Rivers of Alton was purchased in 1997 adding Corona products and Heineken products to the Fritz catalog.
By 2004, the service territory had expanded to include the Springfield, Illinois region. By spring of 2007, the additional territory of Miller products was added to the portfolio. Despite being the largest beer distributor in Southern Illinois, Robert “Chick” Fritz prides itself on remaining “Your Friendly Distributor” originally envisioned by its founder, Grandpa Chick.