Bernie Little took a ride in the Miss Tempo Unlimited Hydroplane owned by Guy Lombardo, a famous big band leader who was filming a movie in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the time. Little was so intrigued by the vessel that he traded Lombardo a Chris Craft cabin cruiser for the hydroplane. Bernie stored his new machine in a hangar at the St. Petersburg airport where he worked selling airplane fuel to pilots.
The boat soon captured the interest of one of his customers - August Busch III who was a descendent of the St. Louis beer brewing dynasty. Bernie took August and two of his VP’s on a high-speed boat ride around Davis Islands and in Tampa Bay. Mr. Busch was instantly interested in having his name on the boat, and Mr. Little was accepting of the sponsorship opportunity. Thus began one of the most successful owner/sponsorships in all of motor sports history.
After 10 years of Bernie Little’s winning tradition with the Miss Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane, he was awarded an Anheuser-Busch distributorship in central Florida.
Bernie Little Distributors constructed a new distribution facility in Lakeland, Florida, which tripled the beer storage capacity.
The company purchased the Anheuser-Busch brand distribution rights for an additional five-county area in south central Florida and a distribution center in Belle Glade, Florida.
A distribution center in Sebring, Florida, was opened.
Bernie Little Distributors was the most highly awarded Anheuser-Busch wholesale distributor in the country.
Bernie’s son, Joe Little, took over the day-to-day operations of the distributorship.
Bernie Little Sr., the most successful owner in the history of unlimited hydroplane racing, passed away and a new era began.
Bernie Little Distributors was selected by
Anheuser-Busch as the top wholesale distributor in
the nation. With that achievement, the company was
the first wholesaler to be awarded the highly coveted
Big Jake trophy, which was delivered by the famed
Clydesdale horse team.
Bernie Little Distributors is currently looking to expand in both of its locations due to volume and market share growth. A piece of property in Highlands County was recently purchased, and plans are in the works to build a brand new state-of-the-art warehouse to replace the existing Sebring facility.