Distillery 291 is an award-winning, small-batch whiskey distillery nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the distillery sits in the shadow of Pikes Peak where CEO and founding distiller, Michael Myers, a former New York City fashion and beauty photographer, took his love of whiskey and his passion for the old west, and started a distillery. In doing so he aimed to replicate the taste, smell and folklore of that time, through a one-of-a-kind, bold and beautiful Colorado Whiskey.
In 2011, Myers pulled his first whiskey off the still and began self-distributing his product in Colorado. With a reputation for award-winning whiskey, he and his small team incrementally built their distinctive brand by working the local market and building relationships with Colorado buyers. They grew their business and expanded throughout the state. They hired a sales team and expanded to other states, like California.
Unhappy with their first California distributor, in 2018 they met LibDib founder and CEO, Cheryl Durzy. She explained LibDib’s revolutionary new business model that could enable the 291 team to do something they had been searching for; secure distribution while continuing to keep their own brand ambassadors on the ground in California.
They started distributing their whiskey through LibDib and found the model to be a perfect fit. Michael and his team wanted to replicate their 7 years of success in Colorado in other states, but maintaining control of their brand was tough with traditional distributors. LibDib was the first distributor model that enabled them to develop and maintain their own key account relationships and keep their team active in the market.
“Our approach at 291 is ‘Hardmade the Colorado Way’ and that extends to our team and sales strategy,” said Myers. “We find passionate people who are dedicated to the brand and want to share our story. LibDib lets us do just that. Our reps build relationships with buyers, easily send order requests to LibDib, then use the LibDib platform to stay in communication with accounts. From the beginning, LibDib enabled a really easy transition for our team and our accounts.”
LibDib became 291’s licensed distributor not only in California, but also expanded its footprint as LibDib added new markets.
Meanwhile, in 291’s home state of Colorado, the distillery continued to self-distribute, which meant doing everything from seeing accounts to taking orders and invoicing, to delivering product. It was a lot.
“In our home state of Colorado, we were incredibly busy. We needed help in order to grow,” said Myers. “LibDib approached us and said let’s grow together in Colorado. We knew the model worked and we also knew we could trust LibDib as a partner. We’ve never looked back.”
Adding their home state of Colorado in 2021, allowed the 291 team to focus on building relationships and adding accounts instead of worrying about distribution logistics.
291 Senior Vice-President Philip Rawleigh added, “With LibDib handling all of the back-end work, we are able to save a ton of time.”
When 291 switched to LibDib in Colorado they knew it was a big undertaking for their in-state team. However, LibDib was committed to helping the 291 team quickly onboard and educate them on the platform. Myers says the transition to LibDib in Colorado was seamless.
"I expected bumps but it really was a smooth transition. LibDib understood our needs and knew we were there to work hard together. It’s hard to let go of your baby, but all of our years of hard work and the foundation we built paid off.”
The results? “Each of our team members now sees 5-6 more accounts every day thanks to LibDib,” said Rawleigh.
When 291 onboarded their sales team with LibDib in Colorado, they started achieving 15% above their initial quota. So, last March they increased quotas and the team not only continued to hit their goals, but exceeded them again. Rawleigh attributes this to the power of LibDib.
“The LibDib platform allows our sales team to communicate efficiently with buyers and see more people each day. We went from chasing down checks to selling. Our team is streamlined and account-driven with the LibDib platform.”
The 291 team thought it might be challenging for the account buyers to use a new platform. After 10 years of self distributing, it could have been a risk that buyers were set in their ways. But once they explained how LibDib works and the sales reps showcased LibDib’s excellent customer service, the entire experience was seamless.
Rawleigh adds that “LibDib cuts out the self-distribution logistics work within their home state so the sales team can focus 100% of their energy on their account relationships.” They maintain 4 full-time sales reps in Colorado, have hired a new California sales rep, and are hiring two more by the end of 2022. In Texas and Florida, 291 has hired a broker team that is focused on a portfolio of LibDib Makers.
So, what does 291 say to other brands who are self distributing in their home states? “Own your home state and build it. And when you’re ready to grow larger, bring in LibDib. You can continue to own your market and your relationships, and LibDib becomes this amazing tool and an empowering app,” says Rawleigh.
Rawleigh also says to invest in sales reps saying, “You live and die by your sales force. Invest in your sales people. Let them own the market and truly support them. If you can’t afford a full-time salesperson, work with a group like Slicker Beverages to help you. People in the market are the key to success, with any distributor partner.”
“Keep in mind it’s only going to work if you’re working hard. You have to be in the market 100% of the time. And LibDib will allow you to own your story and stand behind your brand. It’s freedom to do what you need to do.”
“Our biggest success has come from respecting the buyer's time and with LibDib we’re allowed to do that. Especially in our home state of Colorado.”