Beverage distributor rebrands

9/20/2012 12:00 AM


MLF Group, with Bend beverage-distribution center, adds craft beer


By Jordan Novet / The Bulletin

Published: September 15. 2012 4:00AM PST


A Eugene-based company that runs beverage distribution facilities in Bend and other Oregon cities has changed its name and is expanding its product line.


MLF Group LLC, the franchise that runs Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. distribution centers in Bend, Brookings, Coos Bay, Eugene, Newport and Roseburg, will now operate as Bigfoot Beverages. The company is starting to deliver craft beer in Lane County, according to a news release issued Thursday.


The company will start delivering craft beer to businesses in Crook, Deschutes, Harney and Jefferson counties in January, said Andy Moore, a co-president.


“We’re really excited about getting involved with local producers in the craft segment, as a local distributor, to get to the marketplace," Moore said. “We’ve been distributing national brands, and we see this huge opportunity with local products and craft beer."


Bigfoot will initially carry beer from Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. of Avon, Colo., a brewery with no distribution in Oregon. Beers from Springfield-based Hop Valley Brewing Co. will follow.


The plan is to bring on more products from breweries in the markets where Bigfoot does business, as well as beers from other Western states, Moore said. The company could start offering cider and wine, too, he said.


With more than 300 employees, Bigfoot will continue to distribute sodas, energy drinks and other products to its existing clients, he said.


“As the soft-drink category sort of flattens out, we’re looking for more opportunities to grow our business," Moore said.


Soda sales have declined in the past five years, he said, while new breweries have been opening in the Bend and Eugene areas. In Central Oregon, 14 breweries operate, and at least five more are in some stage of development.


Bend-based Deschutes Brewery, Bend-based GoodLife Brewing Co. and Redmond-based Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. have announced plans to introduce their products into new markets.


Many new breweries look for distributors to bring their beer off-site, and that’s where Bigfoot sees a chance to increase sales, he said.


The name Bigfoot “captures the spirit of the rugged Northwest lifestyle and is fun," Moore said.


It’s not uncommon for a business to change its name when it begins doing business in a different way, said Steve Curley, head of the economic-gardening program at the Small Business Development Center at Central Oregon Community College.


Curley said he likes the name’s alliteration and unconventional nature, which reflects the spirit of the market the company is entering.


“It just kind of flows well," Curley said.