The origins of Treu House of Munch, Inc. stretch back to the 19th Century when Joseph Munch founded the J. Munch & Sons Company in 1875 in East Toledo. The original business, located at the corner of Front and Main Street, included a department store, restaurant and cigar store in addition to the wholesale beer, wine and liquor business. In 1892, the business moved one block away to the newly constructed Munch Building that housed the prestigious Arlington Hotel. The first telephone installed in East Toledo was at this location and the first electric light in East Toledo was installed outside the business.
House of Munch, as the company became to be known, was appointed the first wholesale distributor for the Stroh Brewery of Detroit, Michigan in 1909. Shortly thereafter, House of Munch acquired the rights to distribute the Anheuser-Busch brands. But in 1918, Prohibition forced the company to give up beer distribution and it returned to selling candies and confections.
While surviving Prohibition was a difficult challenge, the Depression nearly proved to be a knockout punch for the company. But John Stroh of the Stroh Brewery Company introduced Leo Munch, Joseph’s son, to a Saginaw Michigan beer distributor by the name of Max Treu. In 1934, Munch and Treu each put up $10,000 to form Treu House of Munch, Inc., distributing Stroh’s and Pepsi Cola products.
Richard A. Esser joined the company in 1940 and was assigned to a Pepsi Cola delivery and sales route. After some time with the company, Mr. Munch gave Esser a single share of company stock to recognize his many achievements. Over the ensuing years, Esser was given more management responsibility of the company and was eventually given the opportunity to purchase all of the company stock owned by Leo Munch.
Treu House of Munch achieved many sales milestones under Esser’s direction including, selling 1 million cases of Stroh’s beer in a single year in 1954. The company would repeat this same sales achievement for 11 consecutive years. In 1961, Esser was instrumental in re-acquiring the rights to sell and distribute the Anheuser-Busch product line from Mohr Brothers Bottling in Toledo. Treu House of Munch had not sold the A-B brands since the repeal of prohibition.
As the company grew over the years, so did its need for more space. The history of the company’s presence in the city traveled through two locations after occupying the Munch Building, first to the corner of Dorr St. and Smead Ave. then, in 1955, to High Street in the old south end of Toledo.
The 1970’s would prove to be a time of loss and transition for the company. Max Treu passed away in 1972 at the age of 86, Leo Munch died at the age of 89 in 1974 and Dick Esser passed away in July of 1976 at the age of 62. Russ Treu, Max’s son, assumed the role of company president upon his father’s passing. Richard G. Esser, Dick’s son, took on the responsibility of managing the beer sales operations of the company after his father’s death. Growth again prompted the need for more space and in 1976 the company moved its operations into a brand new facility on Wales Road in Northwood and would operate out of this location for the next 30 years.
In 1984, Rich Esser purchased the Treu Family stock and led the company through a period of unprecedented growth. Under his leadership, Treu House of Munch launched a number of new successful brand introductions from Anheuser-Busch and grew market share from 33% in the early 1980’s to the 65% share that the company has achieved today. In 1993, Esser led the efforts to successfully acquire the Corona brands from another Toledo beer distributor.
By the time the 1990’s came around, changing consumer tastes and lifestyles, combined with heavy debt from their acquisition of other brewers, had eaten into the Stroh Brewery Company’s success. Their brands found themselves beyond the point that they could effectively compete. Recognizing the troubles that the Stroh Brewery was faced with, Treu House of Munch sold its distribution rights to the Stroh Brewery brands in 1998, ending a 75-year relationship. In 2000, the Stroh Brewery made the decision to dissolve and sold its brand labels to the Pabst Brewing Company.
After 30 years at the Wales Road location, the company had once again outgrown its space. In May of 2006, Treu House of Munch began operating out of its current facility on Arbor Drive in Northwood, completed after 8 months of construction. This 130,000 square foot facility includes 53,000 square feet of product storage and the latest in warehouse, delivery and office technology.
In 2010, the company formed a distribution partnership with Toledo’s own Maumee Bay Brewery to distribute their flagship brand Buckeye Beer and a complete line of craft beers under the Maumee Bay name. This partnership has been very successful and extremely important to the company. The success of craft beer has demonstrated consumer’s desire to purchase and consume local products and this made the relationship with Maumee Bay Brewing a perfect fit. In 2012, the company also began to distribute the brands of the Frankenmuth Brewery, a regional brewer located in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
In 2011, Treu House of Munch and other Ohio A-B wholesalers were awarded the distribution rights to the D.G. Yuengling Family of beers from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. The introduction of these brands into the marketplace was met with great consumer acceptance and the brands promptly carved out a 5% market share after just one year.
While beer will continues to be the mainstay of the company’s product line, being able to offer non-beer beverages has become important in order to be able to take advantage of present and future growth opportunities. Treu House of Munch, Inc. has been selling the leading energy drink, Monster, since 2007 and has achieved incredible success with this brand. Other non-alcohol products sold by the company include Taste of Florida naturally flavored mixers, Dad’s Root Beer and Icelandic Water.
Today, Treu House of Munch is owned by Richard G. Esser and Rich’s son Todd. Company officers include, Richard G. Esser – CEO/Chairman, Todd R. Esser – President, Gregory P. Hipp – Vice President/General Manager, Richard C. Niehaus – Vice President of Retail Sales & Merchandising, John Miller – Vice President of Sales & Marketing and James W. Layman – Secretary/Treasurer and CFO.
The company employs 100 beer professionals and serves 1,200 retail customers in the Ohio counties of Lucas, Wood, Fulton and Ottawa.