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Charlotte Business Journal names Cheerwine a ‘Pillar of the Community’

The Charlotte Business Journal recently handed out its second annual Family Business Awards, and Salisbury-based Cheerwine picked up the “Pillar of the Community” award.

The dinner program was held at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte. The awards recognize local, family-owned businesses for overall excellence, innovation, ethics, philanthropy and contribution to the region.

Cheerwine is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Five generations of the same family have owned and operated the company since its founding, starting with L.D. Peeler in 1917.

Winners were revealed in three size categories, based on the number of employees. Cheerwine was in the largest division.

In all, Charlotte Business Journal recognized 15 family-owned businesses.

In accepting the awards, a representative from each business answered this question: “When your company began, what piece of advice would you tell either yourself or the original founders now if you could go back in time?”

Cliff Ritchie, chief executive officer and president of Cheerwine, gave this response:

“It would be pretty presumptuous of me to give him advice,” Ritchie said, referring to Peeler, his great-grandfather. “Knowing the adversity he must have been facing with World War I in 1917, the one thing I would tell him with the benefit of knowing the future is he had created a brand with a one-of-a-kind flavor that would sustain itself through the test of time … not to be afraid or hesitate to expand.”

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