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Inco Inco Beverage: A Family Business, Built From the Ground Up

It began as the dream of Joseph and Amelia Incardona to run their own business.

Today, Inco Beverage, Inc. is a thriving organization with 43 employees, and a portfolio of outstanding brands and products.
 
Joe Incardona, the son of Italian immigrants, embodied the spirit of the American entrepreneur. From the day he started Inco Beverage in 1934, he truly loved the beer business. It showed in the hard work and determination he and his wife Amelia poured into building their business from the ground up.

From its beginnings as a small distributor of a single beer brand, Inco Beverage grew by leaps and bounds. Joe had a knack for anticipating important changes in the industry, which helped him acquire franchises for many of the nation's top beer brands. He became a Miller distributor ten years before the company created the light beer category with its popular Miller Lite product.

The addition of Coors to Inco's growing portfolio of brands brought phenomenal growth to the company. Joe’s wealth of industry experience, and his commitment to quality and service, helped place Inco Beverage among the leaders in its industry.

Joe passed away in 1993, followed two years later by his devoted wife and business partner Amelia. Their legacy lives on, however, as the next generations in their family continue to steer the company toward a promising future as one of the leading beer distributors in Pennsylvania.
 
First Building Inco Beverage's first location, on Adams St. in downtown Johnstown, PA.

Joe Incardona, center, with the company truck and drivers.
 

 
Seven Decades of Excellence in the Beer Industry
 
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Joe and Amelia Incardona, founders of Inco Beverage

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Inco Beverage's first location, on
Adams St. in downtown Johnstown,
PA.
Inco Beverage was founded in 1934, shortly after the end of Prohibition, by Joseph and Amelia Incardona.

Joe, the son of Italian immigrants, had given up his career as a band leader in Rochester, NY, to move to Amelia's hometown of Johnstown, PA. He went to work for Amelia's family, the Pumas, at their banana importing business. Always the independent sort, though, he jumped at the opportunity to own his own business when he was offered part-ownership in a Rockwood Beer distributorship, just a few blocks away from the Puma warehouse.

Within a year, he bought out the other partner, and renamed the company Inco Beverage.

Joe was the general manager, the salesman, and the delivery man. Amelia was the company's bookkeeper. They were soon forced to move into a tiny storefront around the corner, because their Adams Street landlord also wanted to sell beer out of their building. Then, in March 1936, Mother Nature presented the first of many hurdles the Incardonas would have to overcome...a devastating flood. They saved the trucks and some equipment by fleeing up the mountainside, while the beer from their warehouse ended up 20 miles downstream.
 
 
Inco Beverage managed to survive, and after taking on the Schlitz and Fort Pitt brands, it was back on its feet. Soon, the company outgrew the crowded storefront on Railroad Street, so Joe Incardona bought his first building, the warehouse at 105 Adams Street where he had originally started his business.

It was an era when neighborhood taverns thrived. Bartenders wore starched white shirts and bowties, and a bottle of beer sold for 20 cents. Rapid growth prompted Joe to expand his business again in 1945. He moved Inco to a bigger place, a former service station at 641 Railroad Street. Inco operated there until 1958. During that period, the company doubled its staff of delivery men. Schlitz became the nation's most popular beer. Inco added the Stegmaier label to its growing stable of brands.

Things were rolling along until a bitter strike by Pittsburgh brewery workers brought business to a screeching halt. It became known as "The Beer Wars." Inco had no inventory of beer for 107 days. The company's drivers and their families were on the verge of going hungry. Joe Incardona stepped in, and organized a convoy of trucks to drive through the picket lines and pick up beer in Pittsburgh. On their way back, striking brewery workers through Molotov cocktails at the convoy. Two of the trucks were burned, but the drivers were able to escape and return to Johnstown with most of their loads intact.

The episode began Joe Incardona's active involvement in the political side of the beer business. His growing role in the Pennsylvania beer industry's lobby took him to the nation's capital, where he testified on a proposed free trade bill before the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. Joe was also elected president of the Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors Association. During his six-year term, he helped draft important beer industry legislation, working closely with Pennsylvania's governor and Congressional representatives.

In 1958, Inco Beverage got a major break. Joe Incardona was awarded the franchise for Carling's Black Label, which would soon become the bestselling beer in the 1960s. In 1962, Joe Incardona received the Schlitz Hall of Fame Award, honoring him as a top Schlitz distributor. That accolade recognized a standard of excellence that's still winning industry awards for the company today.
Inco Inco Beverage saw tremendous growth during the 40s, when bartenders looked a lot more formal than they do today, and a bottle of beer sold for 20 cents.
 

 
By 1958, Inco had once again outgrown its home. The Incardonas moved the business to a 4,000 square foot warehouse on Bridge Street. The company now had 11 employees. Demonstrating his knack for anticipating important changes in the industry, Joe Incardona became the distributor for the relatively unknown Miller Brewing Company. It was a gamble that didn't really pay off until 10 years later, when Miller created the light beer category with its Miller Lite product. Miller Lite's popularity, and Joe Incardona's acquisition of the Stroh's franchise, once again caused Inco's warehouse to nearly burst at the seams.

This time, Joe recognized the need for a more dramatic expansion, and built a 12,000 square foot facility in Richland Township, a Johnstown suburb.

They moved into the new warehouse in February 1976. Another 10,000 square feet of space was added. By 1979, Inco's sales had reached more than one million cases annually. The company became one of the first distributors in Central Pennsylvania to computerize.

The 1980s brought substantial changes at Inco. Rick Rizzo, son of Nancy Incardona Rizzo and grandson of Joe Incardona, joined the company, and applied his business acumen and MBA-school training to help modernize operations. In 1985, the warehouse was expanded again. In 1988, the Coors Brewing Company sought out Joe Incardona to become their distributor for a five-county area in Western Pennsylvania. The immediate success of Coors in Pennsylvania fueled exceptional growth for Inco Beverage. Crown Imports, Mark Anthony Brands, High Falls Brewing, Pabst Brewing, E & J Gallo, and Spoetzl Brewery all chose Inco to represent their brands.

Today, Inco Beverage has 43 employees, and serves more than 600 retail and wholesale accounts in seven counties: Cambria, Blair, Bedford, Indiana, Somerset, Fulton, and Franklin. The company's recently-expanded facility in Richland Township occupies 70,000 square feet of space.
 
   
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Inco Beverage's third location, on
Railroad St. in downtown Johnstown
In 1958, Inco Beverage moved to a 4,000 square foot warehouse on Bridge St. in Johnstown. The company also ran an adjacent Squirt soda bottling plant.
   
   
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Joe Incardona testifying before the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign
Commerce about the "Beer Wars" of the
1940s in Pennsylvania
In 1978, Inco Beverage moved to its present location in Richland Township. The facility, originally 12,000 square feet in size, now occupies just over 70,000 square feet of space. That includes 10,000 square feet of temperature-controlled space, which ensures the freshness of our products.
   
   
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Joe Incardona served as president of the Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors Association for six years. During his term, he helped draft numerous pieces of important legislation for the beer industry in Pennsylvania.