Spokane Journal of Business

Vehrs Distributing acquired by California contemporary

Spokane beverage company to keep name, workforce

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Santa Rosa, California-based Epic Wines & Spirits has agreed to acquire Spokane-based Vehrs Distributing Inc. for an undisclosed amount, according to Vehrs president and CEO Jonathan Ferraiuolo.

He declines to disclose financial terms of the pending acquisition, which is scheduled to be finalized on Oct. 16, he says.

“We are two companies that share the same philosophy of making sure our suppliers are taken care of,” Ferraiuolo says. “It just made sense to be acquired.”

Founded in 1983, Vehrs will retain its name and continue to be headquartered at 3200 E. Trent. The company also has an office in Kent, Washington, and another in Portland, all of which will remain intact under the Vehrs label, he says.

Vehrs has between 120 and 130 employees in the three offices with the majority working out of the Kent office, he says.

“Everybody maintains their job except for me,” which he says is in the best interest of both companies. “We’ve still got a few employees who have been with us for three decades. It’s important for the company to retain them.”

Unlike Shaun Dobbelaere, Vehrs’ chief operating officer, vice president, and vice president of sales and marketing, Ferraiuolo says he lacks a “wine pedigree.”

Between Dobbelaere and Epic CEO Justin Sternberg, Vehrs will experience unprecedented growth, Ferraiuolo contends.

In addition to his position at Vehrs, Ferraiuolo owns close to a dozen businesses operating under the parent company Pacific Holding Corp. 

Cycrest Systems Inc., an information technology hardware and software store at 427 W. Sinto, and Crescent Heights Capital LLC, a financial advisory company at the same location, are among two of Pacific’s holdings, he says.

“There will be no shortage of things I will need to do to keep me occupied,” he says.

Ferraiuolo says he has fielded at least one acquisition inquiry from a national distributor every year since taking over as president and CEO of Vehrs in 2014.

“They basically want to buy your (financial) book, retain a few top sellers, and then lay everyone off,” Ferraiuolo says. “But we’re two companies that are centered on relationships.”

After taking the job with Vehrs, Ferraiuolo says, Epic was one of two wholesalers he reached out to in noncompeting markets to solicit ideas for growing market share. Then, about three years ago, the conversation with Epic moved in a direction of what each company could do to expand their footprints across the western U.S.

Kevin Blocker
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