Bibb Distributing Beginnigs
Initially Bibb Distributing Co. was one of three companies Mr. Winburn E. Stewart, Mr. E.K. Stephens and Mr. George Heller started in 1956. Mr. Clint Porter, the Anheuser-Busch, Inc. distributor prior to 1955, died of a heart attack while driving downtown on Cherry Street in front of the Dempsey Hotel. Mr. Block, the original owner of the Dempsey Hotel, ran into Mr. Stewart’s office inside the Dempsey Hotel and told him about Mr. Porter’s death. He told Mr. Stewart he should contact Anheuser-Busch, Inc. immediately about purchasing the distributorship. Mr. Stewart did contact Anheuser-Busch, Inc. along with 18 other individuals. Anheuser-Busch, Inc let Mr. Porter’s widow attempt to run the distributorship, but this lasted for only a year before it became obvious that she would not succeed.
Anheuser-Busch, Inc. employees came to Macon and interviewed all 19 applicants. Mr. Stewart was chosen. After this major hurdle was cleared, they needed to secure funds to purchase the distributorship from Mrs. Porter. Mr. Stewart borrowed the money from his father-in-law, Mr. Broadus Willingham.
Winburn Stewart HistoryMr. Willingham was the owner of Willingham Cotton Mill and a pillar of the community. He taught Sunday School at the Vineville Baptist Church and donated untold sums of cash to small Baptist Churches and orphanages in the Middle Georgia area. He did not want his son-in-law in the alcohol business and loaned him the cash on the condition, that Mr. Stewart promised not to work in the business.
Mr. Stewart agreed to remain the General Manager of Kohlmeyer and Son, a stock brokerage firm located in the Dempsey Hotel, but left the firm after divorcing his wife in 1958 and went to work full time at the distributorship that now contained three separate corporations. In approximately 1960, the Revenue Department took the liquor license away from the distributorship for repeated violations of Georgia Law.
Mr. George Heller, who was responsible for running the liquor division, was asked to leave the ownership group. In 1968 Anheuser-Busch, Inc. gave the two remaining partners an ultimatum to divide the Wine and Beer distributorships up and Mr. Stewart was the only partner they would approve to sell Anheuser-Busch, Inc. products.
In 1973 having worked summers and other holidays since 1964, Winburn E. Stewart, Jr. know as “Brother”, went to work full-time at Bibb Distributing after a lack luster six-year stint at University of Georgia where he ultimately graduated earlier that year.
At that time the largest selling beer in Georgia was Pabst Blue Ribbon and it’s Middle Georgia market share of approximately 45% was higher than anywhere else in the state. There were six beer distributors in Middle Georgia in 1973 and Bibb Distributing had approximately 21% market share.
Winburn E. Stewart, Jr “Brother”, bought the distributorship from his father in May 1988 and he recently sold it to his son Winburn E. Stewart III “Win” in 2021.
Bibb Distributing Co. has reorganized the sales and delivery functions five different times since 1986. Each change has been precipitated by the results of the surveys returned by the Middle Georgia customers Bibb Distributing serves.
The continued success of Bibb Distributing Company would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the employees. We are also grateful for the support of our suppliers and retail customers. The industry continues to change, and Bibb Distributing Company continues to evolve to meet the needs of our customers.