When it comes to business leadership, customer service and community support, Pepin Distributing Company sets the industry standard. Since incorporating the company in 1960 in Gainesville, Florida, the Pepin family has built a beverage empire that has experienced constant growth, and has diversified their portfolio of products.
Business has been good to the Pepin family over the years and the company, in turn, has been good to the Tampa Bay community. The family provided seed money to help establish Pepin-Rood Stadium, the home of athletics at the University of Tampa. A $1 million donation led to the development of Pepin Heart & Vascular Institute at University Community Hospital in Tampa. More recently, the family helped establish the Pepin Academy, a Tampa school for teenagers with learning disabilities. Tom Pepin enhanced the Pepin Heart Facility and helped build the Pepin Heart Hospital, the most advanced Heart Hospital in the Southeast.
Pepin Distributing is a national leader in promoting alcohol abuse prevention programs through the many bars, restaurants and other establishments that it services. Pepin has developed meaningful partnerships with a vast array of organizations to help make the community a better and safer place to live. The list includes colleges and Universities, health care institutions, social service agencies, civic organizations, arts and cultural groups, business to business associations, law enforcement agencies and economic development agencies. You can view more by clicking on our “Community” page.
Tom Pepin (Thomas Pepin), President and CEO of Pepin Distributing Company, encourages employees at all levels within the organization to get involved and support the community by volunteering their time. Directors of the company serve on numerous boards of directors throughout the community including but not limited to: University Community Hospital, MDA, Make a Wish, Tampa Sports Commission, The Tampa Bay and Company, Take Stock in Children, The University of Tampa, Boys and Girls Club, Hillsborough Education Foundation, Hillsborough Anti-Drug and Alcohol Coalition, Tampa Alcohol Coalition, DACCO, Friends of Tampa Recreation, just to name a few.
Art Pepin, the company’s late founder, and his son Tom Pepin, the company’s president and CEO, built the company on a simple philosophy, “Making Friends is our Foundation.” It has been the guiding principal that has led the company to becoming a leader in the beverage business and a leader in the community. The list of philanthropic efforts that the company is involved in is extensive.
Art began his beer distributing business in New England. It was tough work but his business quickly grew. Art’s success attracted the attention of brewery magnate August Busch Jr., and the two quickly became friends. By 1960 he bagan distributorship in Gainesville by making deliveries from the back of his station wagon.
By 1967, Busch rewarded Art for his hard work and dedication by awarding him the distributorship in Tampa Bay area.
In 1986, Art made history by becoming the world’s oldest heart transplant recipient at 65. “Art Pepin didn’t get a second life because of the heart,” Tom Pepin said, “the heart got a second life because of Art Pepin.”
The new heart enabled Art to carry on his life’s work for another 14 years, giving and caring and making friends all along the way. When Art passed away in June 2000, Monsignor Laurence Higgins told well-wishers that even in the days leading up to his death, Art “thought not of himself but of the other person.”
“I pray to God I can be like that,” Higgins added. “It tells me a lot about his character.”
Tom Pepin: Building on a father’s dream
Like his Dad, Tom attended Middlebury College. Soon after graduation in 1975, he came home to launch his career at Pepin Distributing. He rose quickly through the ranks, first working as a sales representative and later as an assistant sales manager.
By 1981, Art decided that Tom was ready to make the big jump and transferred leadership of the company to his son. Tom became president of Pepin Distributing and four years later assumed the positions of Chairman of the Board and CEO.
Tom has presided over an era of considerable growth at Pepin Distributing. When the company first arrived in Tampa, it sold 1.5 million cases of beer and 33,000 half barrels of draught in a year. Two decades later, annual sales exceed 10 million cases and 150,000 half barrels. The company, which now employs about 280 people, continues it stewardship to the community with sincere community involvement and solid business ethics.
Pepin Distributing Company is located at a sprawling complex in East Tampa that includes more than 112,500 square feet of climate-controlled warehouse space. The complex has a complete maintenance facility for company vehicles, a fully equipped fitness center and a personal enrichment library for employees. “It’s a basic investment in their well-being,” Tom said. The cornerstone of the facility is the 25.000 square foot TPepin’s Hospitality Centre that accommodates up to 600 people for a seated dinner.
The focal point of the Pepin headquarters is a comfortable, cypress-paneled meeting room adorned with Pepin family hunting and fishing trophies. The room is available for community functions and provides guests with a place to relax. As Art once noted, “The name of the game is hospitality.”
A Changing Business
Under Tom Pepin’s leadership, a new style of customer service has emerged, focusing on helping retailers manage their entire beverage inventory.
“We have evolved our company from a delivery/service organization into a sales/marketing and information-based service company,” Tom said. “We intend to continue to maximize our use of all available technologies, systems and products to further differentiate ourselves from the competition.”
The variety of products offered by the company is constantly changing. With today’s consumers, brands must strive to build relationships by connecting with the consumers and offering more choices and variety than ever before. The landscape for the industry is rapidly changing and Pepin Distributing Company embraces this change by investing and growing the portfolio of products to meet consumer demands.