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Hello to all from Jeff Thurmon- ex Tito's Vodka guy


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Hello to all! I was at Tito's from 1998-2002 helping Tito start up the monster that he has today. Do I miss the business? Absolutely. Just like moonshining, it gets in your blood, the smell of the alcohol burning off, the steamy rooms, labeling, stacking the cases, and putting them in the trucks on the pallets was awesome and I am very proud of what we set up and what Tito has accomplished from the meager start he had down in Austin Tx. Best wishes to all of you.

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Jeff,

Thanks for dropping a line to all of us. You might be surprised, but there is often a great deal of conjecture and guessing-games on this board regarding Tito's, both in the early days and today. Would you be willing to share some stories of your time there? I think we'd all be appreciative.

Best,

McKee

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I will not discuss operations at Fifth Generation (Tito's) but Tito does make some great liquor doesn't he? I am always surprised by the poor quality alcohols such as Ketel selling so well in comparison.

My agreement with Tito does not allow me to tell you about the tedious and time consuming processes that occur at his plant.

I will consult individually with any business owner for a negotiable fee.

People who take my advice have been known to prosper.(Tito's, others) People who do not take my advice are likely to go bankrupt. (De Los) Best wishes.

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I am looking for a new project. My position with Tito's was: Every part of the operation. I gave up my business in Dallas, moved into Tito's house, and between Tito and myself, we did everything on the site. I drew up the plans for the buildings and equipment spacing and made sure it was built to spec. Manipulated the old machinery to work as efficiently as possible, spent many many days and nights in bars, restaurants and liquor stores and going to people's homes giving away product and samples, got us into many stores, and into newspapers and onto TV. When I wasn't doing that I ran the operation, ordering inventory, running all the mechanisms from grain to pallet. I kept the records, met with the regulatory authorities, and made sure we stayed in compliance. When I wasn't working to improve Tito's I was thnking about working to improve Tito's. Tito and I spent many days and nights together at trade shows, tastings, or just sitting on his front porch in Austin drinking, playing the guitar, and singing songs we would make up while laughing the night away.

Other days and nights we would be building new equipment or trying to get some POS new forklift we bought at a discount to work. Many times we would be working just to keep up with the increasing demand we were creating.

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A quick story about Tito's Vodka, Jeff, and Willie Nelson in Wimberly Texas in 2000

By Jeff Thurmon

It was a beautiful Sunday in 2000. Just another day for me working at Tito's Handmade Vodka. I woke up at Tito’s house by Lake Austin and started getting ready for the Hill Country Wine and Food Festival. Tito and I would be giving away vodka shooters all day, and my friend Ron Weber was coming down from Fort Worth to help us out.

Our task for the day was to set up free shots for hundreds of thirsty people who would be coming by the Tito’s booth for liquor and good times. We showed up early and found the booth, then got the ice, coolers, mixer, signs, tooters, T shirts, and whatnot from Tito’s SUV and headed into the show.

Set up went fast, and before we knew it we were surrounded by a party. Myself and Tito were giving away the liquor rapidly as well as imbibing a bit ourselves with the locals. Well, the Wine and Food festival lasts for about eight hours or so, and the line stays steady until they become unsteady, which does not curtail the revelry a bit. We were all having a great time.

Before you know it pictures have been taken, much vodka has been consumed. There has been a jazz concert, and it was a beautiful day. I have had a busy day informing and imbibing, and probably at this point I have had about fifteen to fifty shots of Tito’s Vodka, a few beers, and some wine. A typical day selling Vodka.

Ron, Tito, and I load up the trucks then start partying in the parking lot with the folks from the festival. There is a girl in a cowboy hat hanging on Tito, and a couple of ladies hanging around me and Ron. All is good as we are all single at the time.

Well, the ladies Ron and I are talking to keep saying they need to go see “Willie”, who I assume is their boyfriend or drug dealer, so I say "No way". It occurs to me that I should find out who this Willie character is, so I ask, “Willie who?” Their reply in unison was “Willie Nelson!” Now that changes everything. It turns out the ladies own a business in Wimberly. They told us that the business had a view of the stage where that night Willie Nelson would be playing in concert. They planned to go watch the concert from the front porch. Well, I was easily convinced, and Ron was too so off we all went to see Willie.

Ron and I followed the lady's car towards the concert. About five miles from Wimberly, the ladies said they had to go home to sober up or something like that, and gave us directions.

So, Ron and I head into Wimberly and park my BMW in the street. We get to the business where we are supposed to be able to see the concert and sit on the porch. We can hear the first band playing, but cannot see them at all. We sit there for a minute studying the scenery, and notice that the “door person” at the gate next to us is a girl too young to be a door person. Ron and I formulate a plan. We walk up to the young girl and Ron says, “I really have to use the bathroom. Do you think I could use that one?” Ron points to the bathrooms about fifty feet away inside the gates. “You can, but you have to come right back.” She says convincing herself this would actually happen. I chime in, “I have to go too, is that okay?” “Okay. But come right back.” She says. "I will." I state calmly, and in we are in.

Now we started partying. We buy beers from the vendors, and began speaking with some locals. One of the girls wanted a Tito’s T shirt, so I have Ron get some T shirts and Vodka out of my BMW so we could give some away. I figure we can give some to the people we are talking to and then if we get lucky to Willie and his band. Ron talks his way out the front gate, then back in again with T shirts and a over a case of 1/2 pints of Tito's Handmade. Next we had to get back stage, so Ron who is having to speak for me at this point due to the high level of alcohol I have consumed used a T shirt, and some of the Tito’s to get some back stage passes from Pootie. Once we got back stage, we gave the crew some vodka and T shirts, the I went out front again so I could watch Willie. Willie played an outstanding show, what an incredible talent! After the show, Willie stood out front and signed a hundred or more autographs. I watched in amazement as he signed babies, hats, arms, you name it. I have been to many concerts, but Willie spent more time with the audience than anyone I have seen.

When Willie started moving backstage, I did too. The crush back there was getting crazy. Willie was approaching, and I had Ron next to me with a pint of Tito’s and a T shirt to give him. “So, you’re the ones giving my crew all the vodka.” Says Willie. “That’s us.” I reply. Ron hands Willie the T shirt. “Is this for me?” asks Willie. It was, but Ron says, “Can you sign it?” and before I can say anything, Willie has signed the shirt, and taken the vodka. Ron was supposed to give them both to Willie, and I was too hammered to say anything at the time. Before I knew it Willie was locked down on his tour bus, and I turned and contemplated the day. Tito and I had given away cases of vodka a shot at a time at the Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, then Ron and I had given away about a case and a half of Tito's to the crowd and crew during Willie's concert. I began to wonder if Willie would be pissed at me for getting his crew bombed while he was on stage. It must have worked out okay, as I have seen pictures of Tito and Willie together since then. I hope Tito has given Willie at least one Tito's Handmade Vodka T-shirt, if not one for every day of the week.

The day was a great success from a marketing standpoint. Many people learned about Tito's between the Wine and Food Festival and Willie's concert, including Willie Nelson himself. I got to enjoy a concert by the greatest musician in Texas history. Thank you Wimberly. Thank you Willie. Thank you Pootie for letting us back stage. And God Bless Pootie who has since passed.

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...hilarious.

So you think it is hilarious that a person or persons would invest their life savings and years of labor going the wrong direction following bad advice?

There is a good chance I could help you progress more rapidly in your own venture, and maybe my advice could make you very wealthy or just save you millions in bad future decisions. I think that is what this site is about and I will hold that line.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think he meant it was a bit presumptuous, or condescending maybe? at least thats the way I took it.

NAB

I agree. I probably have a bit of presumption going here along with a little angst. Fifteen years ago I spent about four years pushing a guy who didn't think he was going to make it to make better product faster than he planned. My marketing expertise along and ability to learn on my feet pushed Tito to the place he is in today. Next year he will sell over a million cases based upon my original business plan along with a lot of sweat and labor.

We liquor makers are a different breed. All of us have a specific angle of approach to the craft. There are many levels of success and many ways to move forward towards our goals. If you look to Chip Tate down at Balcones Distillery you will find an excellent distiller, however, he is limited by his methods so his bottles can cost up to $100 each and are available in limited numbers. The folks at Pinnacle have decided to throw multiple flavors of cheap vodka out and make bottles in the millions.

Whatever you all decide great luck and best wishes to all. It is all a labor of love and a constant learning process. Peace.

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A Million cases?? is it any good (or were you implying Tito's is that big now)? Either way, I'd sure like to be on that level - provided quality can be maintained.

Regardless of past, present, or future, welcome.

NAB

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A Million cases?? is it any good (or were you implying Tito's is that big now)? Either way, I'd sure like to be on that level - provided quality can be maintained.

Regardless of past, present, or future, welcome.

NAB

It is good quality vodka. Very clean and light no bitter punch to the tastebuds that some have. Yes, Tito's is that big. Check your local Walmart. If they sell liquor you will find Tito's on the shelves there. If not check your local liqour store and you will find it there. It doesn't matter what state you are in.....

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Tito's in all over this effin place! every CVS to bodega. It's actually really popular in KY. You don't see it in a lot of bars though, not sure why? Mostly off-premise.

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Tito's price point places him in the Super Call category in bars. The price is just too high for most people. There are many Vodkas in a bar that will be lower priced. He won't sell well in bars until the demand brings it in and people keep ordering it there. Smirnoff, Stoli, Absolut, and others sell at a lower price and are therefor sold much more. For the price of Tito's in a bar you can go ahead and drink Grey Goose.

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Won't argue that logic. I've never seen the on-premise price but CVS has it for $17-19. Not that I've bought it or anything ;) Pretty certain I'd take Tito's over GG though, unless we're talking bottle service.

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Won't argue that logic. I've never seen the on-premise price but CVS has it for $17-19. Not that I've bought it or anything ;) Pretty certain I'd take Tito's over GG though, unless we're talking bottle service.

I think Tito's is a super good value off the shelf. There are some others out there too but that Tito outfit sure did hit the ground running.

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I want to say thanks to everyone on this site for their assistance to others! A great bunch of people with a variety of opinions. Sometimes I find it hard not to jump in and correct things, but for the most part great information for newbies. I don't claim to know everything there is to know either so I learn quite a bit here, Thanks everyone! Happy Holidays.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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