Hundreds of people and a Budweiser Clydesdale horse braved a gentle rain last Friday afternoon to officially welcome the business, which outgrew its facility of 30 years in Pittsburg along Highway 4, bringing 125 full-time employees and much-needed tax dollars to Antioch.
Ten years ago during the heady dot-com boom, the relocation of a beer distributor several miles down the road might not have received much notice. But in a down economy, this rare piece of economic good news was as welcome as a tall, frosty Bud on a 100-degree day in August, bringing out a state senator plus current and former council members to the ribbon-cutting ceremony and receiving well wishes from the state attorney general and state treasurer.
“We are just very happy to be in Antioch,” said Laura Markstein, president of Markstein Sales Company. “It’s a great location for us and everybody has been welcoming.”
Laura is taking over control of the company from her father Robert, who took over control of the company from his father Albert, who with his two brothers took over control of the company from their father Albert, who bought the horse, wagon and six cases of beer and survived Prohibition by selling cider, soft drinks and “near beer.”
There are two reasons for the company’s longevity: attention to customer service and Americans’ unquenchable thirst for beer, even in – or perhaps because of – a punch-drunk economy.
“I really believe in providing the best customer experience we can out there and do what we can to earn our customers’ respect and loyalty,” said Laura Markstein. “We are doing fine. Even in these tough economic times, people still have that one little pleasure and want to be able to buy a six-pack of beer.”
The chances are that if you’ve imbibed a Bud, Bud Light, Michelob, Corona, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Bass Ale, Sierra Nevada or Black Diamond beer in East County, it first passed through the Markstein facility before passing through your digestive system.
Although beer is in her blood, Laura Markstein didn’t originally plan on joining the family business. In 1991 she was attending med school when her father asked if she could help out on her summer break with the company’s public relations. Soon she was working in every aspect of the business and transferred to St. Mary’s College, where she earned a business degree.
She’s now 43 and has been in the family business for 17 years. Her 22-year-old brother Ian and recent college-graduate daughter Jessica are getting involved as well – with perhaps some day her 10-year-old son Ethan joining them.
“Our plan is to, hopefully, keep it for the generations to come,” said Laura. “It’s incredibly rare that you can have a family-owned business that’s lasted for 90 years and have it pass from generation to generation. It’s a real blessing. My grandfather always taught me to give back to the community that has given you so much. I will continue to keep the legacy going.”