Buffalo: beer coaster capital of the world?
blog by S.J. Velasquez • August 17, 2011 @ 10:52am
Wherever you go in the world, just know that there’s a pretty good chance that beverage coaster under your pint of beer was made in Western New York.
A few weeks back, my boss Ben K. heard a rumor that the majority of the world’s beer coasters were made somewhere in the Buffalo area, and he asked me to do some research to either support or disprove the rumor. After a few days of Google searching, emailing and making calls, I got a lead and landed at the Katz Americas website. Boom. Right on the company’s history page was a reference to a Buffalo-based coaster factory.
Back in the 1970s, the American Coaster Company began producing beverage coasters—lots of coasters—right here in Western New York (Sanborn, NY, to be precise). The company flourished in the ‘80s and ‘90s as microbreweries grew in popularity. At the time, the WNY-based coaster company was competing with Katz, a European company, and another coaster manufacturer in Tennessee. In 2007, the American Coaster Company, Katz and Ad-Mat in Tennessee combined to form the Katz Group.
If you sit down at a bar in America today, there’s a 90 percent chance that the beermat on which your beverage is served is a Katz product, meaning the odds that your coaster was created in the company’s Western New York factory is pretty good, Katz Americas President and CEO Frank Muraca explained. And on a global scale, Muraca approximated that Katz makes up about 65 percent of the coaster market. So the rumor my boss heard was partially correct: the majority of the world’s beverage coasters are made by the Katz Group, but those coasters could’ve been produced at any of the company’s three factories in Germany, Tennessee and Western New York.
What exactly happens at Katz’s WNY facility?
“We do all the production, printing, cutting,” Muraca, whose father Thomas Muraca founded the American Coaster Company, explained. And because many of the Katz products are resold through various vendors, “there are a lot of instances where people who buy the product don’t necessarily know we’re making it, where it comes from,” he added.
The WNY Katz factory currently employs about 50 local people, but Muraca said there are plans for expansion. “Our current facility in WNY is a very specialized facility, making up a very strong portion of the market that we hope to grow.”
So there you have it, Buffalo. Next time you’re out of town and feeling homesick, grab a drink at the bar to feel close to home. As if you didn’t already need an excuse to drink.