EXTON, PA — A pair of grade school buddies who went on to found Victory Brewing Company have been chosen by the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) for induction into the Chester County Business Hall of Fame.
Victory Brewing co-founders Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet will be honored at the CCEDC’s annual Business Achievement Award Dinner attended by more than 400 of the region’s top business leaders on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at the historic Phoenixville Foundry. The public is invited to register and attend, and sponsorships are available.
“This year, CCEDC is celebrating 60 years of developing business in Chester County, and we’re pleased to do so with another Chester County classic, Victory Brewing Company,” says Gary Smith, CCEDC President and CEO. “Our story with Victory traces back to 1995. At the time, Bill and Ron were two guys with an idea. It turns out that great idea would be at the forefront of our country’s craft beer movement, and CCEDC is proud it was able to help support such innovation from the very beginning.”
Smith says Covaleski and Barchet required two critical resources that are key to the success of all growing businesses: Location and financing. 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.
“CCEDC endeavors to promote a stable operating environment for businesses here in Chester County, which includes financing strategies for growth,” says Covaleski. “We are joining a fantastic group of business leaders with this award, and it is an overwhelming honor to be considered amongst this group. It puts real perspective on our big dreams and incredible team effort on the part of all Victory Brewing Company team members over these 24 years.”
Says Barchet, “Gary Smith and his team at CCEDC have been with us at so many critical points. When we opened our doors in 1996 in Downingtown, Bill and I already understood that the key to our success would be acceptance by our local community. This CCEDC Hall of Fame Award is an acknowledgement of the importance of serving this incredible community. The business scene is vibrant and, equally important, it’s a great location to raise a family. The open space, great schools, smart community planning and proximity to Philadelphia made Chester County the obvious choice.”
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 now employs more than 300 people in the state of Pennsylvania, including in Downingtown, Parkesburg and Kennett Square. Victory’s expansion continues with plans to open another location at Philadelphia’s Logan Square later this year that is expected to add 100 full- and part-time jobs.
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 has 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.
Notes Smith, “It’s truly a pleasure for CCEDC to recognize the legacy of a company that has excelled in growth and also given back.”
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.
ROAD TO VICTORY:
1973: Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet meet on a school bus
1985: Bill and Ron brew their first home brew
1995: Bill and Ron partner with CCEDC to secure their Downingtown headquarters and financing
1996: Victory Brewing Company opens in Downingtown with a 144-seat taproom, 70-foot bar and 1,725 barrels of beer brewed during the year
2013: Surpass 100,000 barrels of beer brewed in a year
2014: State-of-the-art brewery opens in Parkesburg, PA in a 212,000 square foot building. Beer-infused food products introduced to market.
2015: The Kennett Square, PA brewpub, Victory at Magnolia, opens. Victory offers its first-ever canned beer. Four new fermenters are added to the Parkesburg brewery. Victory beer is sold in 36 states and 10 countries.
2016: Joined forces with Southern Tier Brewing under parent company Artisanal Brewing Ventures.