December 9, 2013
2013 Power Player

Ralph Crowley Jr.: CEO, Polar Beverages, Worcester

Crowley

Ralph Crowley Jr. is once again spurring speculation among local business leaders. Four years ago, he and former editor Harry Whitin were unceremoniously rebuffed by the New York Times in their bid to buy the Telegram & Gazette. Now, under owner John Henry, the T&G is again up for sale — for the second time this year — and many people are waiting to see whether Crowley makes another bid.

As president and CEO of the $450-million Polar Beverages, and — with his family — owner of Wachusett Mountain Ski area in Princeton and a nearby hotel, Crowley already has plenty of power and influence. A daily newspaper would just be the cherry on top of the Polar sundae.

In 1992, Crowley became the fourth generation to run privately held Polar. Under his leadership, it made numerous acquisitions for the rights to manufacture and distribute national brands such as 7Up, A&W, Sunkist, Seagram's, Royal Crown and Diet Rite. Meanwhile, the company has achieved record growth and today employs about 1,400 — most of them in Central Massachusetts.

Ralph's brother Christopher became executive vice president and treasurer in 1999. James "Jeff" Crowley, David Crowley and Carolyn Stimpson, the three younger siblings, run the ski area. A former WBJ Business Leader of the Year, Crowley and his family members were recipients of the Worcester Historical Museum's annual Harvey Ball Smile Award in 2010. Ralph Crowley has used his power and influence to put a smile on the face of America's beverage drinkers. Now, maybe he'll get to have a similar effect on local newspaper readers as well.

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