WESTON, Mo., Oct. 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- McCormick Distilling Co. is thrilled to honor the company's longtime Chairman of the Board, Edward A. Pechar, on the 50th anniversary of his start in the spirits industry. First hired by Schenley Distillers, Inc., on October 1, 1969, while still a law student at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law, he has since enjoyed a long and storied career in the spirits business.
Pechar was initially hired to work in Schenley's purchasing department, responsible for buying bottles and caps. In his time at the company, he held executive positions in manufacturing, labor relations, and human resources, ultimately becoming president of the company in 1984. Howard S. Feldman, the then-CEO and Chairman of parent company Schenley Industries, Inc., was an early career influence who became a lifelong mentor and friend.
Pechar's business partnership with his colleague and closest friend, the late Michael S. Griesser, began at Schenley as well. Each a lawyer with an entrepreneurial spirit, the two partnered to acquire Virgin Islands Rum Industries, Ltd., in 1987. Based in St. Croix, USVI, the company marketed the trademarks Cruzan Rum and Estate Diamond, among others, and became the largest supplier of bulk rum to US bottlers and rectifiers. They parlayed their ownership of that business into the acquisition of McCormick Distilling Co. in 1993, and Pechar has served as the company's Chairman of the Board since that time.
Established in 1856 and home to the historic Holladay Distillery, McCormick Distilling Co. is the oldest business in the Kansas City area and the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi still operating in its original location. Originally founded by "Stagecoach King" Ben Holladay and his brother, Major David Holladay, the distillery has a remarkable history. The land itself was first charted by Lewis and Clark in 1804, over a half-century before the Holladay brothers began distilling on the site.
At the time Pechar and Griesser acquired McCormick, it was known primarily for its family brands, including McCormick Vodka. Under their leadership, the company more than doubled in size and embarked upon an era of innovation as it developed a robust portfolio of premium brands. When Tequila Rose was introduced, it was the first cream liqueur on the market that wasn't an Irish cream. 360 Vodka launched as the world's first eco-friendly vodka, with ingredients, packaging, and production processes all designed with the environment in mind. The company's newest brand, Five Farms Irish Cream, is the world's first farm-to-table Irish cream liqueur and is the highest scoring Irish cream in history. McCormick's other premium offerings include Broker's Gin, Hussong's Tequila, and Triple Crown Whiskey. Today, the company's brands are available in all fifty states and in seventy-eight countries.
In 2015, McCormick underwent a $10 million renovation of the original 1856 stillhouse and started distilling bourbon on-site again for the first time in more than thirty years, with an anticipated first release in Spring 2020. The stillhouse was dedicated as the Michael S. Griesser Memorial Stillhouse in honor of Pechar's late business partner, who passed away in 2004.
Pechar's success in the spirits business has allowed him to be a benefactor to numerous charitable organizations, particularly those that fund research into multiple sclerosis and childhood neurological diseases and those that create educational opportunities for young people. He created the Edward A. Pechar Scholarship Fund at his alma mater, the University of Nebraska Omaha (known as the University of Omaha at the time of his 1963 graduation). These full-ride scholarships are for students from Nebraska and Western Iowa who need help paying for college but don't qualify for federal aid, with preference given to first-generation college students, as Pechar himself once was.
"I've had the privilege of working alongside Ed Pechar since 1993," said Mick Harris, President, McCormick Distilling Co. "He has taken a small, regional distillery and turned it into a worldwide operation with world-class brands. His contributions to this organization and to this industry are far-reaching, and I hope others will join me in congratulating him for all that he has achieved and for what continues to be a remarkable career."
©2019 McCormick Distilling Co., Weston, MO. Drink Responsibly. Drive Responsibly. Exist Responsibly.
SOURCE McCormick Distilling Co.