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Back in 1890, Rhode Island gave birth to something that almost died of a tragic ailment in 2005.
Narragansett Beer owned a 65 percent share of the New England beer market from 1919 to 1967 and was scooped up at its peak by Falstaff Brewing Corp. in 1965. By the early 1980s, the brand was in a downward spiral. Falstaff closed breweries and what was once a warm and friendly regional mainstay ("Hey neighbor--have a 'Gansett!") became a ghost of its former self.
Enter Mark Hellendrung, former CEO of Nantucket Nectars, and a group of Rhode Island investors who in 2005 saw potential in the dying 6,000 case-per-year brew. Six years later, Narragansett serves up more than 600,000 cases annually.
Last year, Narragansett's 120th anniversary weighed heavily on the guy who grew the iconic brand's distribution hundredfold in a mere six years.