Made in Princeton: United States Distilled Products

The UV line of vodkas is one of USDP’s best selling product lines. Here 50ml bottles of UV chocolate cake vodka are filled on a USDP bottling line.
The UV line of vodkas is one of USDP’s best selling product lines. Here 50ml bottles of UV chocolate cake vodka are filled on a USDP bottling line.

In early January 2012, while still fairly new on the job as the president and CEO of United States Distilled Products Company, Pedro Caceres saw a sign.

He literally saw a sign that would help shape the future of one of Princeton’s largest employers.

Caceres had just taken the helm of United States Distilled Products Company (USDP) in the late fall of 2011, when something became terribly obvious.

“We were much more than we believed we were,” said Caceres.

Caceres quickly learned that USDP, with over 100 brands, is not only a large player in the United States alcoholic beverage community, but has the potential to be a player across the globe.

And it’s that sign that today is helping USDP build its international sales.

Caceres was pulling out of the Princeton Industrial Park at the end of another long work day.

He looked up and saw a road sign directing people to turn onto Rum River Drive.

“That’s a great name,” Caceres remembers saying.

That was January 8, 2012.

Caceres thought about Rum River on his entire drive home and couldn’t get the potential company name out of his mind. Finally, he pulled into a Barnes & Noble book store on his way home from work, logged onto the store’s free Wi-Fi Internet connection and began checking for the availability of Internet domain names. Caceres found that was available. He got out his credit card and purchased the domain name on the spot.

“We had a small international presence under Phillips,” Caceres said.

Caceres and his team at USDP were convinced that they could compete in any market in the world.

“We wanted a good worldwide presence,” he said.

Creating the Rum River Beverage Company was a big part of that, and the division has helped USDP expand into Latin America, Europe, South America and Australia. Today the company is working on building a strong presence in China.

But it’s here at home in Princeton that USDP is really broadening its footprint.

USDP began in 1981, as a small bottling operation. The goal was to create in USDP a small company capable of producing regional brands for its midwest markets.

In 2001, USDP acquired the Phillips products and its sales in the U.S. and Canada and worldwide. That served as the birth of USDP’s move into product development.

“Our company goal is to grow, expand, invest and hire,” Caceres said.

USDP is showing a strong commitment to all four of those objectives.

USDP’s growth is absolutely based on its successful sales.

Caceres confirmed that USDP shipped nearly eight million cases of alcoholic beverages from its Princeton facilities in 2012.

That’s 80 million bottles and about 8,000 semis of product, he said.

That takes facilities and a workforce second to none.

USDP is one of the largest blenders and bottlers of alcoholic beverages in the nation. The company’s Princeton facilities sit on about 800,000 square feet. That’s the equivalent of almost seven Walmart stores the size of the store that will open February 1 in Princeton. USDP employs 260 people in Princeton and looks to add 50 more people to its team in 2013.

Today, USDP operates seven production lines across three daily shifts, 24 hours per day, said Jesse Ross, the production manager at USDP.

That production line is turning out some of the nation’s must popular beverage products, including the UV brand of vodka and flavored vodkas, Phillips, and the Trader Vic’s family of rum products. The Durango, Gionelli, Kingston, Mothers, Rondiaz and Tomatin lines are also produced at USDP. Karkov vodka, manufactured in Princeton, is one of the world’s most recognizable names. The company also produces Prairie Organic vodka, Revel Stoke whiskey, Cabrito and Centinela tequilas and the Matiz line of French brandies.

USDP packages product and is responsible for blends and bottled products at its Princeton facility. It also operates an injection blowing facility that manufactures plastic bottles for USDP products. In 2012 USDP completed a 186,181 sq. ft. warehouse addition – the largest construction project in Princeton.

“Our company is growing and is a fantastic place to work,” Caceres said. “We care for our employees and provide good training.”

“This is a place of opportunity,” Caceres said.