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Empire Distributors, Inc

Public Sales - Marketing 13 Active Jobs

In 1961, Knoxville, TN was the largest "dry" (i.e. no wine and spirits - beer only) city in America. When the city voted to allow retail package store sales later that year, two local businessmen, Hughlan Thornton and David Bowman were granted a wholesale license to distribute wine and spirits in the East Tennessee region. To run their new company, B & T Distributing, they chose a division manager for Hiram Walker Cordials named Emile Petrone.

In 1963, Bowman sold his shares to Petrone. B & T continued to grow and establish itself as a driven sales organization with a focus on customer service. By 1976, its small warehouse off of Cherry Street could no longer support its wide selection of products. Its new location on Deane Hill Drive offered such amenities as a fine wine cellar and an IBM computer large enough to need its own room. The business prospered, and by 1983, Petrone was able to buy Thornton's shares, making him sole owner.

Emile Petrone intended for B & T Distributing to be a family company in every sense of the word. His son Bob had been working at B & T for years; now, another son, Jim, joined the company as well. Over the next decade, this leadership led the company into a new level of success that culminated in the design of a modern warehouse on Baum Drive.

Sadly, Emile Petrone passed away in October 1994, before he could see B & T's next transition through. Bob and Jim Petrone became partners, and in early 1996, the company moved into the Baum Drive facility, where it resides today. The 1990's saw healthy growth, and in 2000, when David Henry took the position of president and general manager, B & T began an unprecedented period of success that continues today. In 2009, David Henry became a partner in B & T, which - despite challenging recent economic conditions - has grown its market share every year of the 21st century. In 2016, B & T Distributing was acquired by Kahn Ventures Inc. joining Horizon Wine & Spirits and Delta Wholesale to form the first true statewide distributor network in the state of Tennessee. B & T is now an integral part of the success of a larger operation, providing suppliers and brands the only distributor option for a statewide platform of pricing, programming, marketing and service.