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NH Distributors Named Family Business of the Year

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
June 10, 2009

New Hampshire Distributors has been named the Family Business of the Year by the UNH Center for Family Business.

“New Hampshire Distributors has been a strong supporter of the university and the Center for Family Business for decades. The Hayes family has endowed a chair in the humanities and donated funds for athletic facilities. In addition, they have been extensively involved in state politics and community service. The UNH Center for Family Business is pleased to recognize New Hampshire Distributors as its Family Business of the Year,” said Barbara Draper, director of the Center for Family Business.

New Hampshire Distributors is a third-generation family business founded by James and Clair Hayes, both 1932 UNH graduates. The couple started the business because they wanted to return to New Hampshire to raise their family.

Sugar rationing after the war nixed the Hayes’ first plan to start a soft drink and bottling distribution business. But in 1946, they began exclusively distributing for a friend’s brewery, the Diamond Spring Brewery, and started the company in Epping as a small wholesaler of alcoholic beverages with two employees. In 1949 the company was awarded the Budweiser franchise for most of the state, and sales soared to more than 100,000 cases. Sales have increased ever since.

In the 1980s, the second-generation management team acquired new brands, pushed sales to more than 3 million cases and moved the company to Concord. Now led by its third generation, the company has expanded to include import and craft beers as well as waters, soda and energy drinks. Sales have risen to 4.5 million cases and the company employees 127 full-time workers.

New Hampshire Distributors has been recognized by Anheuser-Busch as one of the top six Anheuser-Busch wholesalers in the country.

The company’ management team also has been involved in state politics. Jim Hayes served 18 years on the Governor’s Council and son Bob Hayes served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives as well as on the council. The company also has been involved with The Concord Boys and Girls Club.

Jim and Claire Hayes are passionate about UNH. Jim Hayes has been awarded a gold football trophy from the athletic department for his support of UNH football, and the Hayes have donated funds for the Jim “Red” Hayes locker room and study lounge at the Field House. Jim Hayes also funded the seat backs in Cowell Stadium where his four cherished seats still reside, and the couple funded the Hayes Chair in the humanities department for the dedicated preservation of New Hampshire history.

New Hampshire Distributors has been a member of the Center for Family Business since its inception in 1993. Members of the Hayes family are graduates of the Leadership Development Program and serve on the board of advisors. The company also has hosted many Center for Family Business programs.

The Center for Family Business, under the Whittemore School of Business and Economics and the Graduate School, is sponsored by Mass Mutual Financial Group, Thomas Davidow Associates, Baker Newman & Noyes, Pierce Atwood, MPI Management Planning, Inc., and Ocean Bank. It is a membership program to provide owners and managers of entrepreneurial businesses with an opportunity to exchange ideas and information and to discuss business challenges, concerns, and solutions. For more information, visit http://www.familybusiness.unh.edu/.

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