Company Started on 50/50 Odds
Chance Decision 50+ Years Ago Resulted in One of Oklahoma City’s Best Companies
With the flip of a coin in 1959, Zeak and Bob Naifeh, a father-and-son candy distributor team, made a monumental decision that would result in becoming the leading wine and liquor distributors in Oklahoma.
Today, Central Liquor Company is owned and operated by the third generation of the Naifeh family: Brad, Greg and Justin. They are actively preparing the fourth generation for future leadership.
“A flip of a coin is an unorthodox way to launch a company, but my grandfather and father were faced with a difficult decision that would affect the business and family,” says Brad Naifeh, partner of Central Liquor. “In those days, Oklahoma law didn’t require customers to pay upon delivery for certain products, so receivables were difficult to collect and the business was struggling. Oklahoma liquor law changes in 1959 presented an opportunity in a new industry.”
When Central Liquor was founded, the company employed 20 people, including the entire Naifeh family from Zeak’s wife, Rose, to his children, Selma, Bob, Leilah and Franklin. The operation was housed in a 13,000 square foot building.
Flash forward 58 years. The business now employs about 400 people and occupies almost 20 times that original space. In April 2016, the company completed a new facility with a fully automated picking system that can select and distribute up to 15,000 products in a night. Product can be loaded onto eight trucks simultaneously and distributed to restaurants, bars and liquor stores in 77 counties across Oklahoma every day.
“Central Liquor has an advantage because we use the latest technology and integrated infrastructure,” adds Naifeh. “But our commitment to the community and our dedicated staff is really what makes Central Liquor successful—even if they aren’t related by blood, they become part of the family.”