While many Capital Region workers spent the morning after Super Bowl Sunday trudging to their jobs through a crippling snow storm, the 375-plus full-time employees at DeCrescente Distributing Company were enjoying the day off.
About five years ago, a worker at the Mechanicville-based beer and beverage distributor anonymously suggested that the company stay shuttered after the big game. The idea resonated immediately with management.
Wedged between the end of football season and the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day, February is a traditionally slow month in the beverage distribution businesses, explained Russ Teplitzky, DeCrescente’s general manager. And with the robust business before the Super Bowl, giving the workers an extended weekend seemed to make a lot of sense.
“We try to do the little things,” he said.
Those little things include having a nurse practitioner on staff who sees patients five days a week and the placement of a company gym at the company’s sprawling headquarters.
DeCrescente rewards workers for going above and beyond through a peer-recognition system. They also take cues from an anonymous online survey workers are encouraged to submit with suggestions on how to improve the business.
For C.J. DeCrescente, the family-owned company’s third-generation president, maintaining a good working culture is something to take seriously. He marvels at how his workers embrace the culture as a source of pride.
“Candor, for example, is a value that has encouraged people to pass along ideas they feel can improve the company, and who better to suggest something than the people in the trenches,” he said.
In a sense, DeCrescente is still operated like the tight-knit company founder Angelo DeCrescente started out of his Viall Avenue garage in 1948. Though the company now sells more than 10 million cases of beverages annually, its owners have made sure to stay true to its founding principals.
DeCrescente’s reputation among its employees has also made it one of the best places to work in the state. Best Companies Group, an independent firm that identifies companies with a positive reputation among its workers, named the distributor among the state’s best places to work four consecutive years starting in 2011.
“Our culture is more of a family culture,” Teplitzky said. “We started as a small family-owned business and got bigger. … But the core values of our organization haven’t changed.”
That doesn’t mean the company hasn’t changed. DeCrescente has undergone a massive evolution even since the late 1980s, when it first sold a million cases in one year.
The company now distributes wine and spirits along with a staggering array of beer and a wide assortment of non-alcoholic beverages in cans, bottles and kegs. The business also deals in restaurant-quality gases — products that ensure the quality of the beer they distribute — and even provide tap-cleaning service to customers, all in the hope of providing the best possible product for the person at the receiving end of a pint.
“I guess the way we look at it is, whatever that brewer intended that beer to taste like when they put it in the keg, we want the consumer to get that same taste profile,” Teplitzky said. “And that means you have the right gas to push it through beer lines that are clean.”
DeCrescente’s growth is especially visible now, following a massive expansion of its facilities in the north end of Mechanicville over the past five years. In 2011, DeCrescente became the sole supplier of Polar Beverages to major retailers throughout the Capital Region, a change that allowed the company to boost its distribution by nearly 1 million cases annually.
In 2012, the company completed two buildings that increased its office and warehouse space to nearly 200,000 square feet on both sides of routes 4 and 32. A 28,000-square-foot sales and marketing building on North Main Street includes a 150-stadium seat conference center that serves as training space, a wellness center, gym and working pub for training purposes.
The new facility was followed by a 45,000-square-foot warehouse expansion in late 2012. Then in late 2013, the company branched into wine and spirits in an effort to remain competitive in an evolving market.
Today, the company occupies more than 300,000 square feet when all storage, office and ancillary buildings are added together. DeCrescente’s 3,000-plus accounts extend across 7,500 square miles of territory located in 11 counties reaching from the Massachusetts border west to Amsterdam and Columbia County north to Warren County.
Teplitzky said growth in the near future will focus on company acquisitions or bringing in new brands into existing markets. With the expansion three years ago, he said the groundwork is laid to continue expanding with market demands.
“We built this facility for growth,” he said. “We looked out 10 years and did our best assessment of where it’s going.”
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