Beer Capitol Distributing Company Inc.

Business Born from a Family Tradition
Written by: 
Emma Bouthillette
Produced by: 
James Logan

Eugene Madrigrano left his birthplace of Mendicino, Italy, in 1905 in pursuit of the American Dream; he was just 19 when he left. Eugene worked in a variety of capacities before establishing a beer business in 1933 on the coattails of Prohibition’s abolishment.


With an old Model-T truck that he bought for $600, Eugene started delivering four products to a customer base that slowly expanded. Eugene’s endeavor eventually became a family business with sons Joseph, Aldo and Dario, as well as son-in-law Gene Speca, all taking part in the business.


Beer Capitol Distributing Company Inc. (BCDC) was established in 1981, and the family tradition has taken off since. Aldo Madrigrano, CEO & chairman of BCDC, reports the company now distributes beverages to Milwaukee and the surrounding area. Operating out of a 275,000-square-foot facility in Sussex, Wis., which houses 500,000 cases of beer and 30,000 half barrels, the company has 100 trucks on the road daily.


In his role at the helm of the company, Aldo has been recognized as a leader in the beer industry. He has served as National Beer Wholesalers Association Chairman, an organization that represents 2,500 distributors across the country. He is also actively involved with other boards in Wisconsin.


Aldo runs the business along with Mike Merriman, president and co-owner of BCDC, as well as Ron Fowler, co-owner of BCDC. It seems as though the company boasts an abundance of knowledge; Fowler has also been recognized as an industry leader and served on numerous corporate and association boards within the beverage industry while Merriman brings more than 40 years of industry experience to the business and serves on several councils for brewery suppliers. Aldo also realizes it takes more than just the family to run the business and BDCD employs approximately 400 people who align with the company’s philosophy of hard work and dedication.


Time-tested Experience


With roots in the beer business, BCDC has been built upon 80 years of experience. With that experience, the company has developed relationships with some major brand beer companies. Also is proud to note that MillerCoors makes up approximately 70 percent of the company’s business.


The beverage distributor has been named the largest in Wisconsin and ranked No. 23 in the country. Aldo attributes the success of BCDC to remaining small. The company works with approximately 30 suppliers and builds strong relationships with each client.


“We are different in that we don’t want every brand out there,” says Aldo. “We work with brands to make a good fit for both sides. We have strong key relationships with a smaller number of suppliers and that works.”


Along with maintaining strong relationships with suppliers and customers alike, BCDC constantly assesses opportunities to improve efficiency. Recently the company renovated its warehouse in order to improve its operations. The BCDC truck fleet is also mostly back-loaded trucks instead of side-loaded, because Aldo believes it’s more efficient.


While the history of the company may have started with an old Model T, BCDC doesn’t shy from trying new technologies to improve productivity, as well. The company integrated a voice-picking solution to increase productivity by nearly 25 percent over traditional paper picking process; the transition has also increased accuracy in the selection process.


Economic Factors


However, Aldo can admit that BCDC has not been immune to the struggling economy. Aldo reports consumption of beverages has declined in Wisconsin, which has enhanced the company to look to areas for savings. The company also has to negotiate insurance costs for the company, employees and vehicles, as fluctuating gas prices also add to the company’s increased expenses.


“We’ve made wise budget adjustments to make it work,” says Aldo. “We also added brands to expand offerings; in addition to beer, BCDC is also selling non-alcoholic drinks.”


The success of BCDC relies on a strong management team and an eye on the economy. Aldo hasn’t seen a great indicator that the economy has stabilized. While he notes that he has seen some improvement, it waxes and wanes. Aldo explains he continues to keep an eye on the marketplace. He in turn makes adjustments to BCDC based on consumer trends and response from clients for certain products.


While there has been some struggle given the economy, Aldo doesn’t see BCDC slowing down anytime soon. He reports the company is always looking for new opportunities, including not only expanding offerings, but also expanding regions reached in southwestern Wisconsin. The company will continue to strive to meet needs and adapt to changing business climates, but ultimate the goal is to keep Beer Capitol Distributing Company Inc. a leader in the industry.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Pabst Brewing Co.