Family-owned Distillery Beats the Odds and Builds Success

dj_familyEditor’s Note:  This post is sponsored by Staples.  All the comments and opinions are my own.

Nestled in the heart of Loudoun County Virginia which is often called D.C.’s Wine Country, you’ll find the first legal distillery located there since Prohibition — Catoctin Creek® Distilling Company.  That’s not all that makes this business unique.  It was founded by husband and wife team, Becky and Steve Harris during the height of the Recession in 2009.  But the dynamic duo have beaten the odds and their business is flourishing.  I originally interviewed co-founder Scott Harris in 2014 so I decided to catch up with him to see how things are going this holiday season.

THE Small Business Expert:  Scott, you have certainly beaten the odds.  What do you think makes your business successful?

Harris:  I think our business is successful for a number of reasons, but the top two reasons are that we have an amazing, and unique product, and we market it really well.  The Roundstone Rye, our flagship rye whisky, is of superb hand-crafted quality, and although we are a very small producer, we have received national and international acclaim for the product, which has helped us to get entrance into some of the top bars in New York, London, and Washington DC.

THE Small Business Expert:  Recently you hosted a Virginia Oysters and Virginia Cocktails event at your facility.  In fact, you pick many of your supplies for these events, such as tasting cups, from Staples.  Is this a good way to market and grow your business?

Harris:  We constantly strive to have people visit us in person and get to know our small business by being here.  There’s nothing like seeing the whisky stills for yourself, taking a tour, and becoming infected with our passion and enthusiasm.  Events like concerts, bottling workshops, dinners, and cocktail education classes are all ways to connect with our audience on a one-to-one level that is meaningful and lasting for brand loyalty.   It requires an enormous amount of effort, but works really well for a local audience.

THE Small Business Expert:  Many small businesses are still worried about the economy moving into 2016.  Do you feel as though the economy has affected your growth?

Harris:   We have a saying in our business:  When times are good, people drink.  When times are bad, people drink!”  No matter the economy, sales in spirits are usually pretty good, and during the Recession, our business was doubling every year.  Choosing a good product, that people want, will help insulate you from any ups and downs the market may endure.  It’s really important to know your product and know the market for it.

THE Small Business Expert:  During the holidays you stocked up on office supplies from Staples.  How does Staples help you run your business more successfully?

Harris:  Staples is our go-to place for all the tools we need to run our business.  From getting copying done, to printer ink, office supplies, and even computer accessories, we rely on Staples when we need something for the office.  The nice thing is that they’re close, and we can get something the same day.  And saving time is something that is greatly valued in the hustle-and-bustle of our daily lives.

Harris also purchased a big screen television from Staples that he plans to use for making Scott and TV croppedpresentations to his customers and investors. “We  have corporate partners who rent our space and require AV to show their own presentations.  Our tasting room often serves as a meeting place for companies like Boeing and Geico, and having a nice big screen that we can wheel in and out of the tasting room will be really nice for booking future meetings,” he explained.

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company is definitely doing more this holiday to enhance their business, prepare for 2016, thank their customers and continue beating the odds.  Share with us what you’re doing this holiday to gear up for a great New Year.