Our History

The Early Years 1960-1970

Original National Distributors buildingNDI is a family owned company, founded on January 2, 1960 by Frank J. Gaziano and his wife Norma Gaziano, who was the initial bookkeeper and treasurer of the company. Frank was an executive for many years with Anheuser-Busch before purchasing the southern Maine A-B wholesalership. The first warehouse and office were located on York Street in Portland and 10 people were initially employed. Within three years, a facility was built on Fore Street in Portland. It was here that beer sales increased, new employees were added, and the original building was renovated and expanded to include a can recycling center and a glass crusher.

The Growth Years 1970-1980

In the early 1970s NDI began to distribute wines. Today National represents some of the finest wineries in the U.S. and many other countries.

In 1979 Jeff Kane joined the company as VP/General Manager. With the introduction of computerization, and the need for more space, NDI moved to a new location. New, modern offices and a state of the art ‘Controlled Environmental Warehouse’ were built at the existing location at 116 Wallace Ave, South Portland. The move was completed in September, 1980.

In 1980 NDI sold 1,000,000 cases of Anheuser-Busch products. This was the combined total of all Anheuser-Busch brands sold. This was the first of many milestones achieved. Also, in 1980, Jeff Kane was approved as Successor Manager of NDI by Anheuser-Busch.

The Milestone Years 1980-1990

In 1982 Frank Gaziano was chosen to sit on the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Panel. Frank was very proud of his service on the panel where he was instrumental in presenting ideas to increase the “bar call” for Bud Light which was struggling at the time against LITE.

In 1984, as the company approached its 25th anniversary, NDI sold 1,000,000 cases of the Budweiser Brand for the first time. It should be noted that this was a goal long sought after. In 1985 National was named as an Ambassador Wholesaler, the highest award that could be bestowed on an Anheuser-Busch distributor. Only 60 of the then 1,000 wholesalers ever received this award. In 1985 Carmine Castaldo became beer sales manager.

In 1989 Jeff Kane was named President and Successor Manager. Due to increased business and the ever expanding product lines in beers, wines, and non-alcoholic products, the warehouse was expanded several times beginning in 1985. Also in 1989, a non-alcohol department was established to develop sales in waters, juices, and sodas. National purchased the distribution rights in southern Maine for Polar Sodas. NDI was an early adopter of the idea that there was a sales and profit opportunity in non-alcoholic beverages.

In 1990 National was named the Anheuser-Busch ‘Wholesaler of the Year’ in New England.

The New Direction Years 1990-2000

In 1994 Jeff became Anheuser-Busch Equity Manager when Frank became CEO.

In 1995 the office area was renovated and expanded. The beer and wine departments, as well as the financial department, were all relocated in the different areas of the offices and sales areas. Charlie Gagnon joined the company in 1994 as the Chief Financial Officer. Dave Nelson joined the company in 1994 as a warehouse supervisor and became the Operations Manager in 1995. “Pay for Performance” was introduced into the beer department as a tool to align pay and targeted sales achievement.

During the 1990s the company continued to grow its beer, wine and soda business. The beer and wine departments continued to segregate their personnel so each department could specialize its sales and marketing efforts. Support personnel were added for sign making, shelf sets, and chain store calls. To increase performance and accountability, the beer and wine departments were divided into sales teams with team leaders and sales assistants assigned to each team. By the end of the 1990s Bud Light was selling about 300,000 cases — 1/3 of Budweiser sales. Craft beers were becoming factors in the marketplace with NDI selling Gritty’s, Harpoon and Redhook. Labatt was the number one selling import. Non-alcoholic sales had accelerated to about 400,000 cases by 1999. Wine sales achieved a milestone of 100,000 cases sold in 1999. A celebratory dinner was held at Portland Country Club with the wine team.

The Acquisition and New Age Years 2000-present

National Distributors current buildingIn 2000 Carmine Castaldo became Successor Manager after approval by Anheuser-Busch. Carmine serves as Vice President of Sales and calls on national accounts. In 2002, Tim Longstaff became the beer sales manager. Beer, wine and soda departments continued to grow in personnel as each business became more complex and their SKUs proliferated.

The non-alcoholic beverage department has fully matured into a segregated sales and marketing department. A soda department has been created with salespeople dedicated to just non-alcoholic sales. The traditional account base of licensed accounts has been expanded to several hundred non-licensed accounts such as schools, delis and cafeterias. Sales vehicles were purchased for the salespeople.

Salespeople are organized into 2 teams—one team focusing on large format stores led by a supervisor and supported by merchandisers and a second team focusing on the All Other Market. At the beginning of 2007 Jason Seavey was hired as the sales manager. During his tenure there has been an explosion of the energy drinks market with Monster Energy from Hansen leading the way. Continued growth in our sales of Polar Sodas, Arizona Beverages, and Snapple have propelled the department to sales of approximately 650,000 cases. A target of 1,000,000 cases has been established.

The wine department has expanded in both size and its geographic footprint. We have traditionally covered Cumberland and York counties with two wine teams. We have added a third wine team to call on accounts in the mid-portion of the state plus our traditional southern Maine territory. This allows for statewide coverage when we align our territory with Maine Distributors. A manager of chain store activity was added in 2004. Dan Kane became wine sales manager in 2005. Under his leadership we have seen steady growth of our product portfolio and sales volume.

Our beer import portfolio has grown tremendously since 2002. In 2002 we were appointed to sell Stella Artois, which was then controlled by INBEV and we imported Labatt’s from that company. In 2003, NDI acquired the Heineken portfolio after a legal fight that clarified the Maine Franchise law and the rights of distributors and Certificate of Approval Holders. In 2004 we acquired the rights to the CCM brands of Dos Equis, Sol, Tecate and Carta Blanca and Bohemia. In 2006 we acquired the rights to Rolling Rock. In 2007 we acquired the rights to the remaining INBEV brands of Bass, Beck’s and Lowenbrau after Anheuser-Busch became the national importer. In 2008 we acquired the rights to Newcastle Brown Ale after Heineken became the national importer.

In 2007 we added a 23,000 sq. foot addition to the warehouse. This enlarged the product storage portion of the warehouse to 150,000 sq. feet. The space was badly needed to accommodate the expanded items carried by each sales department. The warehouse expansion allowed us to reset the product picking areas for greater efficiency.

In 2007 Bud Light out sold Budweiser for the first time to become NDI’s#1 selling brand. In 2008 the beer sales department was re-aligned into groups that sell different trade channels. This allowed different sales groups to focus on the highly specialized on-premise channel and other groups to focus on off-premise accounts which are divided into chain stores and all other market accounts. In November 2008 Maine voters defeated by a 2 to 1 margin a doubling of a beer and wine excise tax and a new tax on non-alcoholic beverages. NDI has grown from a company of 10 employees to a company of 200 highly motivated team members (175 team members non-summer) who aggressively sell, market, and deliver a diverse portfolio of high quality beverages.

2011 Gaziano Award winnersIn 2010 National Distributors celebrated its 50th year in business. The milestone was marked by a company celebration in Augusta. The new decade also featured the announcement of the inaugural Frank J. Gaziano High School Lineman Awards and Scholarships that are awarded to Maine's top high school lineman.

At National Distributors, we are always looking for new ways to lead our industry, help our customers and improve the way we do business. We not only have a commitment to our customers, we also have a commitment to protect the environment so we can enjoy the world we live in, not only today, but for future generations.

Since 2010, we've introduced a variety of eco-friendly technologies as part of our continuing efforts to help reduce their energy costs. We spent $120,000 to improve our lighting system by installing new energy-efficient bulbs and timers. The changes to the lighting at the company warehouse have resulted in a savings of $30,000 per year and reduced our carbon footprint by 250 kilowatts.

In 2011, our company changed our refrigeration system to Ice Cold Technology, using non-toxic and non-hazardous catalysts developed for refrigeration that integrate oil in the process and reduce friction for the units, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in energy and electrical consumption. 

We've also introduced driver handheld devices that reduce paper invoice use and have recently changed to an all green voice-activated picking process that eliminates paper pick sheets in the warehouse.

Maine Standard BiofuelsIn 2013, we announced a new partnership with Maine Standard Biofuels to create a diesel blend using biodiesel manufactured with recycled cooking oil collected from local area restaurants. The lower cost of biodiesel will reduce the cost to run the company's fleet. The new relationship is part of our ongoing efforts to "Go Green." In addition to protecting the environment, recent improvements have saved the company more than $30,000 per year and reduced our overall energy use by 10 percent.

In thinking about the future, we are always thinking of new ways to stay fit and promote wellness for our employees. In recent years, we have introduced a variety of weight loss and physical fitness programs to help our employees to stay fit. Through the Changes program and Walk to St. Louis alone, employees from National Distributors have walked more than 10,000 miles and lost more than 1,000 pounds combined.

In May 2016, Jeff Kane announced his retirement and Tim Longstaff succeeded him as president. Longstaff is a longtime team member of National Distributors. He joined the company in 1984 and has been a highly motivated leader who has had a very positive impact on the sales department and the overall operation of the business. "Tim is well positioned to continue the growth and success of National Distributors as the new president," said Kane.

National Distributors is proud to celebrate more than 50 years of a commitment to our employees, customers and the community. In the years ahead, we will continue to grow and provide high quality products and service to our customers.

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National Distributors, Inc. has taken a multi-faceted approach to "green initiatives" for our operations and our community.

These new "green initiatives" include the use of cleaning solutions that have no phosphates and low toxicity, the reduction of waste through a single sort system, the replacement of existing lighting fixtures with newer technologies including occupancy sensors and the use of a non-toxic, non-hazardous, 100% chlorine-free synthetic catalyst additive for our air conditioning and refrigeration units. This technology, known as IceCOLD (www.usrefrigerationtech.com), has improved the operating efficiency of the company's refrigeration units by as much as 25 to 39 percent.

The NDI team also donated a day to help remove trash from the Saco River as part of the aggressive "Leave No Trace" program.