The Fitzgerald Ice Company was founded in 1907 by John Henry Dorminy, Sr., as a manufacturer and seller of ice, coal, and gas with modest sales of Anheuser-Busch beer. Because all beer at that time was draught and required cooling, it was common for ice houses to distribute beer. During this period, most of the towns and counties in Georgia were "dry" with local bars supplying beer sales.
Southern Eagle Distributing remains one of the oldest continual Anheuser-Busch distributorships in the United States.
For the first 43 years of existence, Fitzgerald Ice Company operated as a sole proprietorship by John Henry Dorminy. By 1950, the beer department had acquired one truck with one part-time employee. Because of continued growth, Mr. Dorminy incorporated the business in 1956 and named his son, John Henry Dorminy, Jr., as President. As sales increased, the business moved from the wooden-floor warehouse on Central Avenue to a new updated warehouse on Grant Street where a forklift could be used to transport product.
In 1970, another son, William J. Dorminy (Jim), was named President and General Manager of the company. By this time two other employees had come on board, and a fleet of two eight-bay delivery trucks had been acquired. Sales had grown to 75,000 cases per year.
Ten years later, in 1980, with sales increasing to 380,000 cases, the Company moved to its present location on the Ocilla Highway in Fitzgerald. William J. Dorminy, Jr. (Will), a grandson of the founder, joined the Company in 1995 as sales reached 937,000 cases and became President in 2005. Under his leadership additional distributorships and territories have been acquired, including Vidalia in December 2007, Savannah and Blackshear in October 2008, and Brunswick in 2010.
In December 2012, Southern Eagle acquired Pearlstine Distributors, Inc. With headquarters in Charleston and Ridgeland, Pearlstine Distributors was a fifth-generation family owned company serving seven different counties in South Carolina's Lowcountry. The businesses now operate under the new name Southern Eagle Distributing.