Best Places to Work: Chesbay Distributing

by CoVaBizMag

By Ryan Miller

3928 Cook Blvd., Chesapeake | 757-558-8170 |
Founded: 1958 as Norfolk Beverage Company; renamed Chesbay in 1999
Employees: 190

With a distribution center based in Chesapeake and a company footprint felt from Virginia Beach to Petersburg, Chesbay Distributing sells and distributes 6 million cases of beer and cider while offering an impressive catalog of reputable domestic, international and craft beer brands. This includes wholesale beer distribution to customers that have obtained their ABC licenses and major Coastal Virginia venues.

Chesbay began in 1958 as Norfolk Beverage Company before renaming in 1999. In 2012, Chesbay joined forces with Reyes Holdings, while maintaining its status as a leading supplier of major labels from international breweries as well as local craft brewing companies.

Much of the company’s success could be attributed to its positive work environment and a lattice of opportunities for employees to extend their knowledge and careers in the beer business, as many have held their tenure at the company for several decades. “The one thing that stands out to me is the possibility for advancement,” remarks Katherine Wylie, marketing manager for Chesbay, who has worked in several different departments in her 17 years with the distributor. “You have the ability to go anywhere in the company.” It’s a fast-paced environment, but employees find their work to be both rewarding and exciting while enjoying comprehensive benefits, including continuous training and upward mobility opportunities, generous vacation accrual and holiday time off.

Chesbay has established a strong company culture based on having an open door policy, inward engagement with its employees, outward involvement with the community and positive leadership from President Patrick Collins. They host friendly fundraising competitions and have donated 5,000 pounds of food to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore during Hunger Action Month. Each February, Chesbay hosts an awards banquet where they recognize the top performers in their respective department, each with a thousand dollar reward. In May, the company hosts Family Fun Day with an onsite carnival for hundreds of employees, their families and friends.

“We work really hard on employee engagement,” expresses Jerry Fortner, director of human capital. They encourage private conversations while being empathetic to individual concerns, whether those are work needs or family situations. Chesbay also takes a progressive approach with their engagement while setting goals for each team within the company. Rather than large, monotonous and impersonal meetings, each team leader is encouraged to take their separate team out to breakfast or dinner every month to have a one-on-one with their employees and allow for them to express any ideas or concerns with one another.

Fostering this kind of business environment furthers the company’s success while employees take pride in their workplace.

Chesbay Distributing, Chesapeake, Best Places to Work

Chesbay Distributing, Chesapeake, Best Places to Work

Chesbay Distributing, Chesapeake

Chesbay Distributing, Chesapeake

Work Perks

  • Company gatherings including steak cookouts, a turkey fry, beer sampling events
  • Personalized healthcare plans
  • Company matches 50 percent of employees’ personal contribution and 10 percent of their income with their 401(k) plan
  • “Mommy and Me” classes that assist with maternity questions and concerns
  • Career advancement training
  • Awards banquet for employee recognition with a thousand-dollar reward, dining, giveaways, raffle, photo booth
  • Family Fun Day with an onsite carnival, beer garden, door prizes, DJ and food
  • Ham and case of beer for each employee for Christmas

Why I Love My Job

“I love our company due to the fact that it’s always forward thinking and preparing people for advancement and growth.”
—Matt Kemick Jr., Small Format Sales Manager, 17 years with Chesbay Distributing for 17 years.

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