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Lead Time

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I've been to numerous seminars, read numerous books and talked to numerous distillery owners.  

I know the lead time for a DSP permit, state permit, the manufacturing of my equipment, COLA approval, etc... 

What keeps me up at night is that I've missed something and that I'm going to have my entire production line in place, only to realize I've forgotten to allow for enough time to order say barrels or some grain that I think is easily available, but in fact, is high in demand.  So I put this out to the board: 

What caused you delays and/or what did you wish you had ordered or given more to whether it be permitting, initial construction, equipment purchase, raw materials, bottling, labels, etc...I appreciate any feedback you guys have.  

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Fire Marshal.  Number one cause of delay for us.  We talked to him twice prior to starting our project, then toured him through our space before we signed our lease and his response each time was "Looks good, it shouldn't be a problem."  It then took him nearly 3 months to actually put his signature on paper for our permit, and once he did he added a good three months and $100,000 in costs to our build out. He had (has) no idea what to do with a distillery. 

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For us (so far) it was the city not knowing what to so with us (1st distillery in the area), contractors not completing work on time and our primary equipment supplier overshooting promised deadlines by 50%. Get deadlines in writing and with penalties, if possible.

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Those are the least of your problems - Your biggest challenge will be dealing with distributors and trying to get placement. You'll learn quickly that your probably in competition with your distributor and your retailer.

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Meanwhile, late into the night, Glen toils to find a way to pick up the pace of the distillery project... to no avail...

When I first had the idea of a distillery proposed to me way back in the late nineties, there was not a snowball’s chance in hell it was ever going to happen. That’s a pretty long lead time!

More recently however, when I decided to pursue the reality of actually creating an establishment, I was warned it would take 2 to 3 years to open. Being a guy who likes things to happen much faster than that, I scoffed and said ‘I’m sure there’s a faster way!’

A year later with another stretching out before me, I clearly see the reasons why and have come to terms with the slow pace. After all, I tell myself, ‘Alcohol is a business of patience.’

Dealing with the local zoning process, the neighbors and the building permits have been an exercise in zen like behavior modification.

The latest twist is now the ministry of the environment wants to know where the waste (spent grains & fruit lees) are going to go. I had no idea this particular ministry even knew I existed. I’ve certainly never contacted them. (Turns out, the local health authority did.)

“Into my pigs,” I said. “They are going to eat it. Then, I suppose after that, the compost. Then, the garden.”

“We’ll have to study that radical new idea.” They respond, while everything grinds to a halt.

Again, turns out - if I just dump everything into the sewer, no problem. Its only when I want to manage the waste myself with either my septic or animals they care. Ummm, OK.

In the beginning, this kind of stuff would really get under my skin. But, now I look at it as an opportunity to gain more followers. Every single time something comes up, I meet new people. I sell them on the yummy potential of my imaginary, yet obviously incredibly  fantastic products, if only I could get started.

They are always enthused and then they promptly think up new ways to slow me down.

Cat and mouse.

Still, I am making steady progress and the key is, expect this shit and just keep your shoulder to the wheel and eventually, hopefully, the tide will turn in your favor. And the upside is, I do have a much, much bigger potential market now than I had when I started. When you start to realize that, suddenly the wheel seems a lot easier to turn.

Cheers,
Glen.

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