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Start up... as a distributor


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Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

I'm a 21 year old in college who has a couple of years of experience in the wine and craft beer industry, serving at tasting bars and giving full brewery tours here in south Florida.

I'm currently in the process of starting my own distributing company that will focus only on craft spirits. My aim is to have a close relationship with a single distillery, helping them to grow their brand and reach distribution to the Miami Dade area, where many bars, lounges, and retailers alike are still rather reluctant to take on any small craft spirits.

I'll be forming my LLC next week, and from there I will be negotiating deals on warehouse spaces I've found in order to qualify for my KLD Florida liquor distribution license.

The reason I'm starting this company is because I grew very fond of craft beer in my earlier years as a beer server, and despite drinking at an illegal age, I drank because I loved the craft beer styles. IPA's, Imperial stouts, brown ales, I love them all. I'm very open to trying new styles and flavors and it was a real learning experience for me, especially since I gave brewery tours, that was a major incentive to learn how the beer journeyed from the malt and hops to the glass in your hand. For about a year now I have read that craft distilleries are making their mark as well, and since then I've wanted to help them grow their brands and gain public support the way craft breweries have.

Now I don't want to sound like a money hungry capitalist, but I'm gonna level with you and say that the only "craft" like spirits I've had are tito's vodka (which I know is on a large scale production) and a few smaller brands of tequila.

I loved all of them. Like I said, I find it intriguing to try new things, and frankly I'm committed to helping the Florida distilleries grow into the hearts of the new generation of educated imbibers.

I'm seeking advice on how to approach distilleries in order to conduct business with them that will be mutually beneficial.

I'm working on establishing stronger relationships with bars and lounges, but currently I only know the owner of one single lounge.

I'm also looking into studying for my spirits specialist certification, in order to gain knowledge and credibility.

How can I get a foot in the door? I'm a hungry young man with loads of energy and I want to help craft distillers more than any other large distributor out there.

My distribution range would be small but my focus is strong and the will to succeed is here.

Again, advice would be greatly appreciated.



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welcome to the forum underdog. The distribution game is a tricky one. Learn your state and fed laws well regarding distribution before you start throwing money at it. There are many hurdles that can be avoided by doing lots of research before you dive in.



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I would recommend going to work for a distributor for a couple of years first.

Setting up what is effectively a wholesale/transport business is tough. Margins are small, so you will need to shift a lot of volume.

You will sell on credit. And will have a %age of bad debtors.

You could adjust you model, and be a sales agent for a few distilleries (never buying/holding the stock) but taking a commission on volume etc. building a portfolio as such. But you will probably earn more in a salaried role in a larger company - and of course enjoy employee benefits.

As for approaching distilleries, that's easy. Most of them would love to sell more booze.

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