High Grade Beverage was originally founded by Nicholas DeMarco and Harry "Butch" Levine in 1940. They began by distributing Rupert Knickerbocker beer to taverns and retailers in Middlesex and Somerset Counties in New Jersey. This business was located on Redmond Street in New Brunswick and consisted of only six others - three delivery men, two sales people and one secretary. In 1941 they expanded their territory to include Hunterdon and Warren Counties with the inception of additional distribution rights to Anheuser-Busch products for all of their territory. A second distribution site was opened in Kenvil, New Jersey in 1956 in order to reach all of the customers, since sales volumes were expanding. The northern branch eventually moved to Mine Hill, while finally residing in Randolph today.
Joseph DeMarco, the son of founder Nicholas, became heir apparent in 1961, when he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the company. At this time Joe and his wife Elizabeth obtained a controlling interest in High Grade. At the time of his father's death Joseph secured the remaining shares of stock in High Grade Beverage. It was during this tenure that High Grade Beverage grew into a "mini" conglomerate. Joe DeMarco purchased White Sales and Service, a truck dealership, in 1976 from his father-in-law Anthony Policastro. Joe acquired the rights to Volvo trucks in 1977 and incorporated the name of White Sales and Service into Volvo & GMC Truck Center. The expansion continued with Briar's USA, soft drink beverage bottler in 1986. This operation is directed by Guy Battaglia.
A & D Express, an interstate trucking concern, was founded in 1951, and was a logical extension to the beer business. Nicholas's brother Albert DeMarco was the general manager of the business. Today the operation is directed by Guy Battaglia. A & D has more than 30 tractors and 100 trailers to service its customers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. A & D specializes in transporting beer for wholesalers in this multi-state operation.
Ever expansion minded, Joseph DeMarco saw another opportunity to buy an Anheuser-Busch Beer distributorship in Staten Island, New York in 1971. This operation, called Rutgers Distributors, was managed by Richard Policastro from 1971 until it was sold in 1993. The divestiture, which was anathema to Joseph DeMarco's demeanor, was precipitated by additional territories (Union and Morris Counties) in juxtaposition to his New Jersey beer businesses.
High Grade Beverage's main facility is located in South Brunswick, New Jersey. This storage facility has the capacity to warehouse 550,000 cases of beer in a controlled environmental warehouse (CEW), plus an additional 250,000 cases of inventory in the non-CEW warehouse section. The barrel cooler with a constant temperature of 36 degrees has room for 8,800 barrels of draught beer. Besides the warehouse, HGB has 10,000 square feet of office space at this facility. Today High Grade Beverage serves a 7+ county area inclusive of Middlesex, Somerset, Union, Hunterdon, Warren, Morris, Sussex and a portion of Passaic Counties in New Jersey from these two warehouse and office complexes.
In order to manage the incremental sales in Northern Jersey, the Mine Hill branch was enlarged and relocated to Randolph. Under the tutelage of George Policastro, the facility replicates in design and operation the South Brunswick enterprise. The Randolph operation accounts for approximately one-half of the entire volume of HGB's business.
The family legacy continued with naming of Anthony DeMarco, Joe's son, in 1992 as the successor manager of High Grade. Recently, Anthony was further named the equity manager of High Grade, making him the third generation of DeMarco's to spearhead the company. In 2005, Anthony De Marco was named President & CEO.