One of Rochester’s oldest companies will continue the family legacy. Fee Brothers, which dates back to 1864, is transitioning its management to the next generation.
Fee Brothers makes products that you mix in alcoholic drinks, such as cocktail mixes, bitters and cordial syrups.
Ownership and management of the company has recently moved to a fifth generation of the Fee family, Jon Spacher and Benn Fee Spacher.
Jon Spacher will be CEO, and Benn Fee Spacher has become chief operating officer. They both take over management of Fee Brothers after former co-owner Joe Fee died last year at the age of 55. Joe Fee ran the company with his sister Ellen Fee, and now she has sold the business to her nephews Jon and Benn. Ellen Fee will remain onboard as a consultant this year.
The two "newest" Fee brothers come to their new jobs from other careers. Jon Spacher has been working in the insurance industry for 24 years, and Benn Spacher had a career in IT security.
Jon Spacher said that he and his brother realize the kind of legacy they need to live up to.
“I think the word that comes to mind the most is humbling. To be the people who are the stewards of this family business going forward, it’s a company that belongs to our ancestors and belongs to the history of Rochester, and we’re just fortunate enough to hopefully see it through the next generation," Spacher said.
Benn Spacher said that even though he was in a different line of work in recent years, he is quite familiar with the Fee Brothers operation.
“I worked at the family business over the summers when I was younger, so I knew a lot of the ropes in the production room, but really, it was just keeping the business in the family, it was meaningful, it meant a lot to make sure we were able to continue that legacy,” Benn Spacher said.
Jon Spacher said that business has been good at the company, which is located on Portland Avenue, with sales up 35% this year. Among other factors, Spacher said, during the pandemic, there seemed to be more people experimenting at home, taking internet classes about things like mixology, and in some cases buying items from Fee Brothers. He also sees demand for their mixers increasing as the pandemic eases and more people get out to enjoy beverages where Fee Brothers products are used.
Fee Brothers employs 10 full-time and four part-time employees, and Jon Spacher said they were fortunate to be able to continue operations during the pandemic since, as a food manufacturer, they are classified as an essential business.