From Beer To Brokerage
The real estate firm of Edward J. Lewis began with the business-minded enterprise of its founder Edward J. Lewis in the 1930s and that same entrepreneurial spirit continues to drive its third generation of service to the local real estate community today. In an interesting turn of events, Edward J. Lewis (E.J.) began his entre into the real estate community as a young man in New Jersey who developed a business relationship with a group of investors who designed a coil cleaning machine. In the 1930s beer was not pasteurized and fermentation occurred in the lines leading from the keg, often stored in basements, to the tap located at the bar. There was a need to clean those lines and Edward J. Lewis led the sales efforts to distribute the beer coil cleaning machine throughout New York State and the eastern seaboard. The machine sold quite well.
As the New York tavern market became saturated with coil cleaning machinery, E.J. began to think about other markets and also a change in business direction – selling the beer coil cleaning as a service versus selling the machinery. Knowledgeable about the operation of the system, Lewis researched cities with the highest per capita barrooms in the United States. At the time, Gary, Indiana, had the most tap rooms, but being too far from home, the Lewis’ moved the business to Youngstown, Ohio. Youngstown was booming and steel was king. There were three shifts and round-the-clock mills and it wasn’t uncommon for workers finishing midnight turns at the mill to stop into a pub at 6:00am for a steak and a beer before going to bed.
Building A Business In Changing Times
As the beer coil cleaning business grew, E.J. expanded the operation to several trucks, a staff to clean coils and a reputation as Youngstown’s beer “roto rooter” man. Building relationships with the pubs expanded into relationships within the business community and Youngstown continued to prosper. Times changed, however, after the end of World War II. Fueled by the G.I. bill established after the war, returning veterans frequently opted to attend college rather than enter the family tavern business. Beer changed, too. As beer was more commonly pasteurized, the coil cleaning service was no longer necessary. Loyal tavern owners soon had a new need as there were taverns to sell and Lewis had numerous relationships within the business. In 1948, E.J. established Edward J. Lewis, Inc. and entered the field of real estate.