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Lawrence Distributing Company celebrates 60 years

Feb. 15 was a proud day for the Lawrence family of Danville as they met with employees of their family business, Lawrence Distributing Company, and celebrated 60 years in business. 

Company founder Billy B. Lawrence toasted a 90-plus crowd saluting staff members past and present who had contributed to the success of the company he started back in February of 1954.  

Lawrence’s daughter, Linda Dalton, who serves as the company’s secretary/treasurer, said she feels enormously proud. 

 “I am so proud of my father for founding and growing this company over the years and my mother for her steadfast support of my father and all the other employees, past and present, who have invested time and effort to get to this major milestone,” said Dalton. 

The company, which started as a one-man/one-truck operation, has grown to a business that currently employs 66 people between its main office in Danville and its satellite location in South Hill.  

Dalton contributes three main things to the company’s longevity: entrepreneurship, commitment and hard work.  

“We’ve made good business decisions. We’ve worked hard to hire the right people for the right positions. We believe in the quality products we represent, and we believe in quality service.  These things combined have helped make us the successful company we have become,” said Dalton. 

Lawrence Distributing Company has been actively involved in National Beer Wholesalers Association for many years and also has been extremely involved with Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association.  

Over the years, Billy B. Lawrence, a 2003 winner of NBWA’s Lifetime Service Award, has led the company and taken very seriously its middle tier role in the beer distribution’s three-tier system.  

There has been a high standard set for representing quality beers with attention to quality service in a responsible manner.  The company also has been very proactive and engaged with elected leaders at different levels of government, advocating for the beer business on industry issues.

In addition to beer, Lawrence Distributing Company has added wine, water, soft drinks and event snack foods to its portfolio over the years, and the company represents these products with great pride as well.  

The tradition continues as daughter Linda Lawrence Dalton, who is a current member of the NBWA Board of Directors and secretary/treasurer, and son-in-law Barry W. Dalton, a company vice president, now handle most of the day-to-day activities of running the business. 

While his daughter was not originally drawn to work directly with the business, she has always grown up knowing the business. 

Her career first began as a high school English teacher, and she can now say she has had a “successful 13-year career in that field.” 

In 2000, she felt drawn to find a place in the business her father began. 

“I felt a yearning to find my place there, and I have been proud to now have 14 years experience.  It has been great to work alongside family and the extended family of our staff at Lawrence Distributing Company,” said Dalton. 

Her work centers mainly on public relations and political advocacy for the business and industry.

Her husband oversees much of the decision-making regarding route management, warehouse management, office management and fleet management.

Their son, Will Dalton, is also a member of the Lawrence Distributing Company staff.  

Over the years, he has done a lot of things while still in high school and college including lawn maintenance, working in the warehouse, and he has run a delivery route.  

Since college graduation, he has become a full-time employee and is now working in transportation of goods from suppliers to their operation and in movement of product between their Danville and South Hill warehouses as well.

For the Daltons, keeping the business a family business means, “preserving and growing something of great value.

“It means providing a livelihood for our family and for the families of our employees.  It means that all the long hours and hard work of generations have been worth all the effort,” said Dalton.   

“With a rich heritage, the future looks bright for Lawrence Distributing Company,” she added.