Moorhead's D-S Beverages raises a toast to 50 years in business
MOORHEAD—Visitors to D-S Beverages in Moorhead are greeted by two statues; one is of the company's founder, the late Don Setter Sr., and the other is a statue of Knute Rockne, the legendary University of Notre Dame football coach.
Setter valued Rockne's approach to achieving success in life and Rockne's inspiration, combined with Setter's rock-steady work ethic, are two reasons D-S Beverages is celebrating 50 years in business, said Doug Restemayer, president and owner of D-S Beverages.
Restemayer, who is Setter's son-in-law, said the story of D-S Beverages is largely Setter's story.
And it's a tale he clearly enjoys sharing.
"He's like a second dad to me, to be honest with you," Restemayer said, recalling how Setter handed over the reins of D-S Beverages to him in 2000, when Restemayer became involved in the family business of his wife, Connie, one of Setter's daughters.
Before coming to D-S Beverages, Restemayer had spent about 15 years with the Target company in the Twin Cities and other places.
"The minute I walked in the door, he let me run the business," Restemayer recalled, adding that he learned much from Setter's guidance and friendship as they worked to grow the company.
Restemayer said D-S Beverages moved about 87,000 cases of product in 1968, the year Setter purchased the distributorship.
He said it now moves the equivalent of about 2.4 million cases a year.
"Don grew the business from the smallest distributor in town to the largest," Restemayer said, adding that Setter had a humble start in life in a tiny house two blocks from where D-S Beverages is located in north Moorhead.
Restemayer said Setter was one of 10 kids who grew up in the three-bedroom home, where the children were on a rotating schedule that dictated which nights they got to sleep on beds.
As he got older, Setter played baseball on a ballfield that existed where D-S Beverages now sits, the ballfield having been home to the minor league Fargo-Moorhead Twins, who played in Moorhead in the mid 1930s.
As a young man, Setter worked several jobs to provide for his family, including selling insurance, real estate and yeast for Anheuser-Busch.
The latter led to a friendship with a beer distributor in Moorhead and Setter bought the business in 1968, forming D-S Beverages, Inc., which distributes Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch products.
Setter died in 2016 at the age of 85.
Since Restemayer came on board, the company has grown both in regard to its footprint in north Moorhead and the territory it serves.
In Minnesota, the business purchased the Crookston distribution territory in 2013 and the Bemidji-Park Rapids markets in 2014.
With building expansions over the years, the D-S Beverages complex at 201 17th St. N. in Moorhead is now more than 100,000 square feet.
Restemayer said Setter started with about seven employees and the company now has a team of about 80.
Restemayer said he has considered moving the company out of Moorhead, but he said the Setter family's long connection to the city along with support from Moorhead city government have been powerful incentives to keep it where it is.
He said one of the expansions was made possible because the city closed Third Street to accommodate the work.
Restemayer said he told the city at the time: "Unless you guys close the street, I don't know where I'm going to go," as the company was limited in where it could expand.
Restemayer said if future expansions are needed, it may mean building a warehouse elsewhere to service more distant customers; as D-S Beverages covers an area with a radius of about 100 miles.
In addition to expanding its footprint and its distribution area, D-S Beverages has expanded into non-alcoholic products, according to Restemayer.
"Everything from Sparkling Ice to protein powders and Florida mixer cocktail stuff.
"We've diversified our business into more than just beer," Restemayer said.