"GOSHEN — One gregarious Boston cop. One Miller Brewing Company leader. A chance meeting outside the former Statler Hotel in downtown Boston in the late ’40s during a beer company convention.
A booming, beaming Officer Fred Dana Sr. didn’t know it, but his wisecracking with then-Miller Beer President Frederick C. Miller would lead to the creation of Dana Distributors Inc., a Hudson Valley beverage distribution powerhouse.
“If you ever want to get into the beer distributor business, let me know,” Miller told Dana, and the seed was planted for a family business that continues to grow.
That’s the family lore from Dana’s son, Fred Jr., now the president and a partner, with nephew Patrick English, in the late Fred Sr.’s Village of Goshen business. Fred Jr. recently unveiled plans for an up-to-$6 million, 55,000-square-foot expansion, including 25 new employees.
The plans call for a 45,000-square-foot addition to the company’s 115,000-square-foot plant at 52 Hatfield Lane, plus another 10,000 square feet for recycling. The expansion is due for completion in the fall. The company recently hired the new workers, making it 105 strong.
Dana Distributors already delivers Anheuser-Busch brands for Orange, Rockland and Sullivan counties. Now, to accommodate its recent acquisition of the distribution rights for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group products, it’s growing the building it erected in 2002.
“Dana has long had a positive effect on the economy for all of Orange County, and the surrounding area,” said state Sen. Bill Larkin, R-C-Cornwall-on-Hudson. “Now, they’re expanding their role in the region.”
Fred Jr. said the company distinguishes itself with caring relationships with customers and community members. It’s known for funding an annual Safe Cab program that transported 161 individuals home from participating restaurants and bars last year on St. Patrick’s Day, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday.
“What makes us successful, and I probably sound like a broken record to our employees because I preach this all the time, is relationships,” Fred, Jr. said. “Our success is based on our people.”
Of course, Dana Distributors wasn’t always so big. Fred Sr., who died two years ago at 92, eventually took Miller up on his offer. The elder Dana put himself through Harvard Business School at night, earning a B.A. while working as a cop, before taking a job with Miller around 1954.
By 1970, Fred Sr. was looking to go solo. So, he followed a friend’s tip to the Hudson Valley, where he bought the former Sweeney Bottling Works building in Middletown, renamed it Dana Distributors and began with perhaps 15 employees.
“They’ve grown to become a key player in the community, and it all goes back to good leadership,” said Town of Goshen Supervisor Douglas Bloomfield. “I’m very proud of them.”