EXTON, PA — A pair of grade school buddies who went on to found Victory Brewing Company have been inducted into the Chester County Business Hall of Fame by the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC).
Victory Brewing co-founders Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet were honored at the CCEDC’s annual Business Achievement Award Ceremony, streamed live from Victory Brewing in Parkesburg on Wednesday. The region’s top business leaders attended virtually this year due to social distancing and for the first time ever, CCEDC provided free access for all businesses.
“Our culture and our heritage have always been to be nimble and responsive to all of the needs of Chester County businesses. As we celebrate 60 years in the midst of a pandemic, that mission has more meaning than ever,” said Gary Smith, CCEDC President and CEO.
Also in attendance was Marian Moskowitz, Chair of the CCEDC and the Chester County Board of Commissioners, who provided updates on the county’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and advancing the phases of reopening.
“A combination of preparation, partnerships and smart investing has helped Chester County to keep our COVID-19 numbers lower than all other counties in the region, has helped us to cope with the physical, emotional and economic challenges that COVID-19 has brought, and has helped us to make informed decisions on our ability to restore and reopen Chester County safely,” said Moskowitz.
Smith went on to describe the transformation in services that CCEDC has undergone in the last 3 months. That includes submitting the highest number in the state of Working Capital Loan program applications; working with a network of partners and County government to procure more than 500,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment; and managing a $5 million grant fund established by Chester County Government, which saw 249 grants distributed to local businesses with an average grant size of $20,000. Smith also noted four key areas where CCEDC is continuing to serve businesses as they emerge from lockdown: financing, location services, workforce development and innovation.
Smith said Victory Brewing Company required two of those critical resources – location and financing – when CCEDC’s relationship began with them back in 1995. Through its network of location services, CCEDC was able to assist Victory Brewing with securing its iconic flagship brewery and restaurant in Downingtown, PA at the site of the former Pepperidge Farm. CCEDC also facilitated a business loan to assist with equipment needs and help build the brewery into the craft beverage powerhouse it is today.
Covaleski and Barchet trace their partnership back to 1973, when they met on a school bus as fifth graders and became friends. They remained so, even as they grew up and went to college on opposite coasts. Beer would bring them together as adults during friendly home brewing competitions that became so sophisticated, the pair decided to leave their corporate careers to study with the best in the brewing industry in the U.S. and Germany. They brought that knowledge back home to Chester County to create Victory Brewing Company, which has employed more than 300 people in Pennsylvania, including in Downingtown, Parkesburg and Kennett Square.
Victory Brewing Company’s success is also noteworthy in the communities it serves. The company organizes volunteer efforts throughout the year, including during last year’s Brandywine River Clean Up with the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance. Victory employees also plant crops at Pete’s Produce Farm to benefit the Chester County Food Bank, which operates the Fresh2You mobile market that brings fresh local product to underserved communities in the area. In partnership with the Lord’s Pantry of Downingtown, Victory recently matched $3,500 in donations collected by its employees to provide gifts & gift cards for more than 30 children and their caregivers over the holidays.
Past inductees into the Chester County Business Hall of Fame include Michael L. Pia, Director of South Mill Champs (2019); Claudia P. Hellebush, Former CEO of United Way of Chester County (2018); Dr. Jerry Parker, President of Delaware County Community College (2017); W. Thomas Musser, Chairman of The Tri-M Group, LLC (2016); John Bogle of The Vanguard Group; Greg Bentley of Bentley Systems; Oscar Lasko of Lasko Products, Inc.; Jack Loew of J. Loew & Associates, Inc.; Tom Fillippo of Devault Foods; Robert Hankin of Hankin Group; Jerry Parsons of CTDI; and more.
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