Plymouth entrepreneurs working to revive decades-old craft soda brand

A defunct soda company founded in Plymouth nearly 80 years ago could soon resume operations making craft beverages with the help of local entrepreneur and Army veteran Tyler Rezachek . Rezachek, along with business partners Leo Borstov and Ryan Schroeder , have entered into a business agreement to revive Hi-Ho Bottling Company. They hope to unveil a slate of four classic flavors next April, including a drink comparable to Hi-Ho’s flagship orange soda. It was a chance trip to the Plymouth Historical Society to buy some Christmas cookies that led to Rezachek’s first encounter with the Hi-Ho brand. The organization had a Hi-Ho bottle crate up for grabs as part of a silent auction. “I was reading this little description about (the crate) and it was explaining how a World War II veteran started it because he had access to sugar and other people didn’t,” said Rezachek. “I walked out of there and said, ‘Man, I’ve got to do this.’” Submitted image Hi-Ho Bottling Company was founded by Donald Holzschuh in 1945 after he returned from serving in World War II, according to information from the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce. Sugar had been rationed at the time, but Holzschuh was able to access a quota of sugar as a veteran. He later partnered with Joseph Hildebrand, a former partial owner of Plymouth Springs Bottling Company. The name Hi-Ho Bottling is made up of the first two letters of each man’s last name. The duo set up shop in a remodeled building at 120 E. Mill St., according to the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce. After rapidly growing the business, Hildebrand sold his half of the company to Holzschuh, who stayed with the company until 1955. He then sold Hi-Ho Bottling to start another company. Shortly after learning about the history of Hi-Ho Bottling, Rezachek created a Facebook page for the revived brand, later making a single announcement that garnered widespread community support. “We had hundreds of followers in the first couple of days,” he said. “I thought maybe there’s something here.” Rezachek and his business partners don’t have a dedicated manufacturing space yet, but he said they’ll have access to a few different commercial kitchens in the area. Right now, Borstov is making the company’s first test samples in his own kitchen. Between now and April, the group will host a series of taste tests open to the public. More than a dozen Sheboygan County locations have expressed interest in hosting some of the sessions, according to Rezachek. Tyler Rezachek Once they have set recipes, the company’s first targeted customers will be bars and restaurants. The public will also eventually be able to buy cases of the soda online, including limited edition flavors. “I think there’s a lot of room for a really great product made with Wisconsin ingredients,” said Rezachek. “We don’t want to buy anything outside of the Midwest if we can avoid it.” The trio of men is currently bootstrapping the relaunch of Hi-Ho Bottling. The company’s April unveiling will be more of a soft launch to the public, with a more formal launch anticipated at Plymouth’s 2024 Mill Street Festival in June. “We have the plans in place and we’re just waiting on Leo to do his mad scientist stuff and get us some delicious tasting syrups,” said Rezachek. Rezachek’s last startup venture, Anti-Mussel , is currently shelved. The company invented a unique method of combatting Lake Michigan’s issue with zebra mussels – an invasive species. Rezachek said he couldn’t figure out a good way to make money off the idea but is open to revisiting it in the future.