Framed black-and-white photos line the walls of a conference room inside the Chas. Seligman Distributing Company. The largest depicts Charles Seligman, the founder and namesake, standing near a wagon stacked high with cases of Budweiser beer, two Clydesdales hitched and ready.

General manager Jennifer Doering looks nostalgically at the photo, pointing out her grandfather. It is an iconic snapshot of the company’s meager beginnings and a stark contrast to the thriving business of today that includes imported beers, wines, teas, chocolate milk and an energy drink.

“We used to call ourselves an Anheuser-Busch distributor, but now we are a full-service distributor,” says Doering of the company that first loaded its wagons in 1933, just after Prohibition.

Wiedemann Restored

Most recently, it was selected as the distributor for another business with a rich Northern Kentucky history. The Wiedemann beer brand has been resurrected by local aficionado Jon Newberry, who with his wife, Betsy, created the Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Company after learning that the trademark owned by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company had expired.

“Our market is Northern Kentucky, and Seligman knows that market better than anyone,” Newberry says.

Taste Resonates

Doering is proud to distribute the new beer.

“It is off to a wonderful start,” she says. “The nostalgia of the name will ring with some of those who remember drinking it, but the taste is going to resonate with those who prefer a craft beer.”

Seligman Distributing has always been family owned and operated. And it has been the family’s women who have run the daily operations after the death of Charles Seligman. His daughter, Ruth Doering, became general manager in 1982. Under her leadership, the company purchased the Anheuser-Busch territory in Carrollton in 1986 which led to a new Crescent Springs location. The company added Maysville in 1994 and Frankfort in 1999.

When Ruth Doering chose to step down, she didn’t have to look far to find a replacement. Her daughter had grown up in the industry and worked for a Cincinnati-based distribution company for several years.

“We had three choices at that time,” says Ruth Doering. “We could keep it in the family, sell it, or bring in a non-family member to run it. … Having family run the business has been a very important part of our success. We have the concern and care and desire to see it continue.”

With the younger Doering in charge, the company has grown — not in territory, but in product. In 2003, it began a partnership with the Gambrinus Company (now Crown Imports). The additional product and the movement from cans to bottles required another facility change. In 2005, it built a new facility in Walton.

In 2006-07, more brands were added. Through acquisitions and partnerships, Seligman added Rolling Rock, Grolsch, Goose Island craft beers, Hansen’s Lost, .Rumb and Unbound energy drinks, Bass Ale, Stella Artois, and Lowenbrau. In addition, the company added Arizona teas, Nestle Nesquik, and wines from Argentina, Chile, Italy, Spain, California, Oregon and Kentucky. Today, the company moves four million cases — nearly one billion individual containers — of beverages a year.

“It would be wonderful to see the business carried on to the fourth-generation,” says Ruth Doering. “My father would be proud to see his grandchildren are moving his little company forward.”