In 1912, Khatar Joseph,"K.J.", Nackard and his wife, Marie, settled in Flagstaff, Arizona after immigrating to the United States from Beirut, Lebanon, where they opened The New York Store on what is now San Francisco Street and Route 66.
Fred, the eldest of K.J. and Marie’s seven children, graduated from Flagstaff High School and began working at Pierce-Nackard Motor Company, Flagstaff’s first Chrysler dealership. When the dealership went bankrupt at the beginning of the Great Depression, Fred moved to California to work on the docks. In those days, dockworkers would travel up and down the California coast, fighting bare fisted for money.
The New York Store
When Fred Nackard returned to Flagstaff in 1932, prohibition was in the process of being repealed and he decided to enter the distilled spirits distribution business. On October 2, 1934, Fred and his cousin, Elias Nackard, received a liquor license for their company, Northern Arizona Wholesale Liquor. This liquor license is still valid today, and remains the oldest wholesale liquor license in continuous operation in Arizona.
Fred Nackard (left) and Phillip Nackard
In 1931, Fred met Monica Heaney while she was a student at Arizona State Teachers College, now Northern Arizona University. Fred and Monica were married after her graduation. Later that year, Fred started Fred Nackard Wholesale Liquor Company out of their home while Monica worked as a teacher. The proceeds from the sale of Monica's car financed the purchase of the first Nackard Liquor delivery truck.
Fred saw the opportunities emerging in the soft drink business, and in 1936, he started the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company, selling Dr. Pepper and Nesbitt’s Orange from a warehouse on Cottage Street near the intersection with San Francisco Street.
In 1943, Fred was drafted into the United States Army during the height of World War II. When he notified the Dr. Pepper Company that his wife, Monica, and his sister-in-law, Bessie, would be taking over operations, the Dr. Pepper Company refused, insisting instead that they would send a man to run the business. Fred did not agree to this and in 1943, he parted ways with Dr. Pepper when he signed the Pepsi franchise from boot camp in Fort Lewis, Washington. After spending two years as a drill sergeant while still stationed at Fort Lewis, Fred was honorably discharged from the army in 1945. He came home to Flagstaff and immediately began working to grow his fledgling company. He added bottling lines for soft drinks and signed an agreement with The Schlitz Brewing Company -- bringing Fred Nackard into the beer business. By 1950, Fred had signed with Gallo wine and was distributing wine as well.
In 1951, Patrick Nackard was born to Fred and Monica Nackard. By the time Patrick was ten years old, he was sorting bottles in the summer for five dollars per day. Through high school he worked on the production line, and once he could drive, he became a delivery driver.
During the late 1950s, the businesses became Nackard Bottling Company. Patrick left for college in 1969 but returned to the family business in 1971, working in sales and delivery. Later, he would go on to gain additional experience by working for Durango Pepsi in Colorado, and after spending three years there, Patrick returned to Flagstaff in 1976, at the age of 25. Once again, he began working for the Nackard Bottling Company, this time in management.
In 1977, Patrick met Julie Ralston, a business student at Northern University. She was working on a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Patrick delivered a Pepsi fountain unit to the event. By 1979, Julie was also working for the Nackard family business, and three years later Patrick and Julie were married. In 1984, following the passing of Fred Nackard, Patrick and Julie Nackard assumed full control over the management and operations of the company.
In the mid-1980s, the big spirits companies began to consolidate and sought to eliminate regional distributors in favor of statewide and multi-state operations, Patrick changed the business name to Fred Nackard Wholesale Beverage Company, abandoning liquor distribution in favor of buying two Miller-Coors distributorships, one in Show Low and the other in Globe -- allowing the company to expand from its original footprint. Originally, Nackard Bottling Company used third party operators to handle vending, but in 1992 Patrick started Hi-Line Vending in order to enter full-line vending and exclusively supply products.
Pepsi Food Service (circa 1980)
In 2006, when the wine suppliers also moved to state-wide distributors, Fred Nackard Wholesale Beverage ceased wine distribution operations and instead, began distributing craft beer. Their first craft beer purchase was for the rights to distribute New Belgium Brewery products in the current territory, while at the same time extending their territory to include three more counties, covering all of rural Arizona. Eventually, the company would build a substantial craft beer portfolio, representing 40 different craft breweries.
Today, the Nackard Companies is comprised of Nackard Pepsi Bottling Co. and Hi-Line Refreshment Service.