Two 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.
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,” said Gary Smith, the CCEDC’s President and CEO. “As we celebrate 60 years in the midst of a pandemic, that mission has more meaning than ever.”
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 described the transformation in services that CCEDC has undergone in the last three months. That includes:
- submitting the highest number of Working Capital Loan program applications in the state
- working with a network of partners and county government to procure more than 500,000 pieces of personal protective equipment
- 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 the CCEDC’s relationship began with it back in 1995. Through its network of location services, CCEDC was able to assist Victory with securing its iconic flagship brewery and restaurant in Downingtown, at the former site of Pepperidge Farm. CCEDC also facilitated a business loan to assist with equipment needs and to 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 that the two 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.