Have a Shot of Freedom Whiskey Co. relies on Minuteman Press for effective professional design, printing, and marketing solutions.
Jesse Gaither has a background in analytical chemistry and a master’s degree in economics, but it was managing chemists in the lab that proved to be a strength greater than his calling to be a chemist himself. Heeding the call to be a leader, he spent most of his early career in business management and lent his talent to the Peace Corps for five years before buying a Minuteman Press franchise in Ohio. “Print is in my blood. My parents met at a publishing house owned by my grandparents; Mom was a writer and Dad worked as a graphic designer and salesman. Later my parents started their own publishing company to print and distribute my Dad’s wildlife art. Ownership in Minuteman Press brings my family full-circle back to the printing industry,” he says fondly.
Jesse is forthcoming about his experience researching franchise opportunities, a search that culminated in the grand re-opening of an existing, flourishing Minuteman Press in Centerville during September of 2016. He is gratified to serve South Dayton, OH, and says, “We were looking for a business that provided creative, non-perishable, consumable goods that people would need continually, so I went back to my printing roots in the agreement I signed with Minuteman Press International.”
The previous owner in Centerville created successes in his life as a B2B services franchise owner, enjoying the practice of managing a thriving operation within the always-expanding print industry.
As Minuteman Press in Centerville was strong and its original owner was fortunate that his franchisor considers the exit strategy of entrepreneurs ready to move on to new chapters, Jesse was presented with a healthy business and a loyal customer base. “The former owner put effort into establishing great relationships with our client base and he still drives business our way. We are also blessed with an amazing staff, who, combined, have decades of rich experience in this industry,” he says of his predecessor and the business that is now his own.
Contemplating his talented staff, Jesse has no shortage of praise: “Our customer service specialist, Lisa Phillips, is adept at walking customers through the order and production process to help them meet budget and timeline goals. Our designer, Sarah Kirkpatrick is building a reputation as a true creative and attracts new customers with her effective marketing designs. Jim Carson, our delivery driver, came to us from the biggest producer of Yellow Pages and has a natural ease about him that customers enjoy.” In the pressroom, Jesse hired an individual that had talents other than prior printing experience and she benefited from the good fortune of a franchise system that provides local support and superior training for its owners. He continues, “Lori Raleigh runs the pressroom and she has an infectiously positive spirit that helps keeps all of us motivated during stressful times.”
In 2011, on a summer day in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Have a Shot of Freedom Whiskey Co. was born of the quote from a Marine Unit Leader, “Marines, enjoy this day! For those who fight to protect it, Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know!” Inspired by these words, military veteran founders, Zach Hollingsworth (U.S. Marine Corps) and Scot Brown (U.S. Air Force) made the decision to become entrepreneurs upon their return to the United States. They spent months doing research to create a whiskey that embodies the American spirit and now have their own distillery out of Spring Valley, CA, which they are using to create their “Signature Small Batch Whiskey.”
Of course, with every great startup comes the need to design, print and promote a brand and that shot was given to Minuteman Press in Centerville and the talents of Jesse Gaither’s team.
“Zach came to us through a personal referral from someone within our community who feels we are a ‘wonderful company to work with’. Initially Zach wanted a note from the founder, a personalized postcards that he wished to include with every bottle of his whiskey. We printed the first batch and Zach personally signed every one. Since then, we worked on many print marketing pieces, incorporating direct mail campaigns and promotional items,” Jesse explains.
The demand for Freedom Whiskey is serious and people want more, so Minuteman Press is flexing the muscle of the modern printing industry on their client’s behalf. One day, Zach came to meet with Jesse, hoping to find a way to print customized labels with the name and a note to commemorate particular events on bottles of his whiskey. He also needed bar labels printed for his branded boxes.
Producing customized bottle labels that allow customers to go online and order the specialty bourbon with personalized gift messages was a great idea, one that was put into action without delay. According to Jesse, “I told him YES to both requests. Zach sends us contact information that allows us to use variable data printing (VDP) to produce labels for the bottle necks saying, ‘Bottled for…Batch number…etc’. From there, we ship the labels on Zach’s behalf to the bottling company so they can affix them properly at the distillery. They were printed with the batch number, date and in a way that matched the rest of the bottle so the product looked seamless.”
“Have A Shot of Freedom Whiskey Co. has grown tremendously in the couple of months we have known Zach. He came to us at the ground level and he is only going to keep growing – and so will our relationship.” – Jesse Gaither
Designing and creating custom print work such as is needed for A Shot of Freedom Whiskey bottle labels requires professional agility and discipline because Jesse’s staff only had “a day or two” from the receipt of the contact list to the time everything needed to be shipped to the distillery. He says, “There are logistics that we had to work out and we had to make it work within the budget so he could sell it and not dissuade people by cost. This was his idea. Zach is very creative in his own right, so he brings us his ideas and we figure out the design, logistics and timetables to make sure we meet his need and keep moving forward.” Since Zach has all the makings of a natural businessman and he has a passion for what he is creating for his audience, this passion combined with his Minuteman Press partnership equals great success.
“My relationship with Minuteman Press has been invaluable to our growth. We have received endless positive feedback from customers and have expanded four-fold in three months due, in part, to the quality packaging we receive from Jesse and Lisa.” – Zach Hollingsworth, co-founder, Have A Shot of Freedom Whiskey Co.
The respect is mutual as Zach goes on to state, “Minuteman Press has been exemplary in the quality of their products and customer service. I had a mission to work with a local company and Minuteman Press has blown my expectations away. Jesse and Lisa are first class! Anyone that is starting a business must visit them. Their knowledge and willingness to work with small businesses makes them one of the best organizations we are involved with.”
Have A Shot of Freedom Whiskey is sold nationally online; the up-and-coming distillery is developing a fan base and is preparing to sell directly to retailers. Jesse and his team are ready, “The next thing we are going to do is roll out direct mail to those retailers, so he can get the product on the shelves to those bars and restaurants, for instance. The very first mailing, however, is going out to the VFW Legion Posts. They get the first crack at the second batch, while the retailers will get a crack at the third batch. From there, we continue to help Zach and his company scale up!”
This Veteran-owned business is as unstoppable as the men behind it and the partners they select to help promote their brand. As Zach states with enthusiasm, “Our partnership with Minuteman Press will continue as our business expands. We see this as a lifelong partnership that will grow as we expand nationally!”