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Entries : Wirtz Corp.
Wirtz Corp.

Wirtz Corp.

This large family business was created in 1922 by Arthur M. Wirtz, who made money in real estate and liquor distribution in Chicago. After struggling through Prohibition and the Great Depression, Wirtz bought the large Judge & Dolph liquor wholesaler from the Walgreen Drug Co. in 1945. The Wirtz Corp., headquartered in Chicago with branches around the city, continued acquiring liquor companies and real estate through the ensuing decades, serving as a holding company. When the founder died in 1983, his son William Wirtz, in charge of Judge & Dolph since 1950, took the reigns of Wirtz Corp. By the end of the century, the Wirtz Corp. also owned Edison Liquor Co., distributed about half the liquor sold in Illinois, and ranked among the 10 largest liquor distributors in the United States. Wirtz had annual revenues of $700 and employed about 1,600 people in the Chicago area. The real-estate arm of the corporation owned property in Illinois, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Texas, Nevada, and Florida at the beginning of the next century. Wirtz Corp. also owned the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team and co-owned the United Center arena—where the Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls basketball team played—with Bulls majority owner Jerry Reinsdorf.