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February 25, 2005




WORCESTER – Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey today presented Polar Beverages, the country’s largest independent soft-drink bottler, with the Governor’s Inner City Investment Award.


The Governor’s Award, presented monthly as part of Governor Mitt Romney’s “Jobs First” initiative, recognizes the economic assets of the Commonwealth’s urban center by celebrating the successes of its businesses. Award winners demonstrate business excellence through employment of area residents and involvement in civic and community activities.


“For more than a century, Polar Beverages has set the standard for excellence in business and maintained a strong tradition of community service,” said Healey. “As New England’s largest independent soft drink bottler, Polar Beverages has remained a family-owned business dedicated to their employees and the city of Worcester.”


The history of Polar Beverages can be traced back to the J.G Bieberbach Company, which began importing seltzer water and bottling ginger ale and mineral water in 1882. In 1916, Denis Crowley purchased the bottling division of the Bierberbach firm and two years later, the Leicester Polar Spring Company, which later became the Bieber Polar Ginger Ale Company.


After four generations, Polar Beverages continues operation as a family-owned business that employs 700 people in Massachusetts and has a total workforce of 1,250 employees. Polar produces sodas, mixers and seltzers with 50 different flavors, including popular beverages in birch beer, black cherry, and orange flavors.


The business model in the company’s early years focused largely on sales of bottled water. Polar Beverages expanded their product line to include flavored soft drinks after purchasing the Leicester Polar Spring Company, which included access to a local spring with an abundant supply of fresh water.


Over the years, the company’s recent dramatic growth throughout the northeast and nationally led Polar to acquire another manufacturing facility and several distribution centers in key markets.


In 1998, Polar received a number of relocation offers from other New England communities, but remained steadfast in its decision to remain in Worcester. Instead, the company renovated the abandoned Cookson Performance Plastics plant on Southbridge Street to ensure permanent employment for more than 600 local residents.


“The Polar brand represents more than just a product; it is a commitment that my family has kept for four generations,” said Ralph Crowley Jr., President and CEO of Polar Beverages since 1992. “Our employees, community and faithful customers have given us the ability to produce world-class beverages.”


Throughout all of its success, Polar Beverages has partnered and been a major supporter of the American Heart Association. Beginning in 1992, they began sponsoring the Central Massachusetts Striders, a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting physical fitness by encouraging long-distance running. The Worcester Chamber of Commerce awarded Polar with the Silver Hammer award for the restoration of the former plant that helped revitalize the community.


The Romney Administration has presented the Governor’s Inner City Investment Award to Coghlin Electrical Contractors and Coghlin Network Services of Worcester, Interprint, Inc. of Pittsfield, George Knight & Company of Brockton, H.O. Zimman Publishing of Lynn, Traditional Breads of Lynn, Eastern Fisheries of New Bedford, City Fresh Foods of Dorchester, Court Square Data Group of Springfield, Visualization Technology of Lawrence, City Lights Electrical of Boston, Mill City Environmental Services of Lowell and Fall River Ford of Fall River.




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