Taking on distribution in the EU!
About four years ago, folks from Europe began asking how to get Montanya Distillers rums. Needless to say, we thought this was really cool and wanted to give them all the yeses in the world. But then the roadblocks began cropping up, more by the day, until we were just about ready to throw in the towel.
The EU wants only 700 ml bottles and we have 750s. Uh oh.
700 ml glass bottles are mostly made in Europe. Were we going to ship bottles to Colorado from the EU only to ship them back to Europe full of rum? How can we be a sustainable company if we are shipping glass all over the universe?
If we thought a marketing trip to Denver or San Francisco could get expensive, trips to Europe were really going to hurt. How could we support a sales relationship there and not lose our shirts?
How could we choose a solid partnership when we would be challenged to oversee it from Colorado?
What if we went to the upfront expense to sent a lot of rum to the EU, only to have it sit in a warehouse? What if we started backordering customers in the US because we took a chance on Germany?
Let's not even get started on the need for EU approved labeling, tax stamps and compliance!
Fast forward four years. Enter A&S International of Burbank, CA and the EU-based teams at A&S EU (pictured here with Montanya Owner, Karen Hoskin).
We have solved each of these challenges one by one over the last year. In partnership with A&S International, we have contracted with a small bottling company in Jerez, Spain to receive our bulk rum and bottle it in the EU. The first shipment went out in December, 2016, and the first order of bottled rum was sold to Italian and German distributors.
Montanya Distillers is also very excited to work with the Colorado Department of Agriculture (yes, distilled spirits are considered to be a locally produced agricultural product) and Western United States Agricultural Trade Association to support our marketing, trade show and promotional activities in the EU. John Addison at CDA has been an incredible resource to help us navigate programs and resources to support our export development activities.
In October, 2016, Montanya Distillers owner Karen Hoskin traveled with her son Will Hoskin to Sevilla and Jerez, Spain to meet all the players, inspect the facilities, check out corks, box material and the bottling line. The hospitality that was shown to Karen and her son was just incredible. The motto of the EU partners is "friendship before business" and that part came easily.