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Published in Food/Agribusiness
Ben Wallace (left) pictured with Green Door Distilling Co. majority owners Steve Jbara (middle) and Scott Benton (right). Ben Wallace (left) pictured with Green Door Distilling Co. majority owners Steve Jbara (middle) and Scott Benton (right). COURTESY PHOTO

Former Pistons star Ben Wallace purchases ownership stake in Kalamazoo distillery

BY Thursday, April 28, 2022 01:19pm

KALAMAZOO — Green Door Distilling Co. now has a National Basketball Association Hall of Fame player within its ownership group.

The Kalamazoo based-distillery today announced that former Detroit Piston and NBA champion Ben Wallace has purchased a stake in the company, joining majority owners Steve Jbara and Scott Benton, who have grown to become familiar business partners with the former NBA star.

Jbara is the founder and president of NBA G-League team the Grand Rapids Gold while Benton is the largest minority owner in the team. 

Wallace held a minority share of the team starting in 2018 when it operated as the Grand Rapids Drive but divested this year as the team struck a new affiliation with the Denver Nuggets and Wallace accepted a position in the Pistons front office.

Jbara’s history with Green Door Distilling dates back to the company’s inception in 2014, when it was founded by his high school friend, Josh Cook.

“Scott and I have partnered on a few businesses the past few years and were on the hunt for something for our ‘vice portfolio,’” Jbara told MiBiz. “I knew Josh from high school and he’s always been a good friend and I’ve admired him as an entrepreneur. I invested in (Green Door) when it opened and when Josh showed us plans to really take the business to the next level, Scott and I leaned in.”

Jbara and Benton purchased a majority stake in Green Door in 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We were concerned for the tasting room business, for sure, but Josh’s pivot to sanitizer was excellent to fill that revenue void,” Jbara said. “However, (distribution) cranked right along during COVID and continued to grow, we just needed dollars to continue to develop new products and chase orders.”

With Jbara and Benton at the helm, Wallace was readily invited into the fold.

“Steve, Scott and I have been friends ever since we partnered together on the Grand Rapids Drive,” Wallace said in a statement. “They are building something special with Green Door. I am also looking forward to being involved in the ongoing revitalization of Kalamazoo and bringing some attention to the work people are doing.”

Along with his new stake, the size of which was not disclosed, Wallace also said that he will unveil his own brand of spirits this summer.

With a tasting room located at 429 E. North St. in Kalamazoo, Green Door also distributes product across Michigan. It was founded by the Kalamazoo native Cook in 2014, becoming the first distillery to open in Kalamazoo since 1858.

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Read 554 times Last modified on Friday, 29 April 2022 10:00
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