The Spirit Moved Him
Virtually from the day he began V-One Vodka, Paul Kozub has been dreaming about, and planning for, the day when he’d make his product himself, at a distillery he owned in Poland, the birthplace of his ancestors — and vodka itself. Now, that day is right here, and Kozub believes this big funding will allow him to scale up his enterprise on a dramatic degree.
Paul Kozub says the toughest half about the entire thing was protecting it a secret.
And that’s saying one thing, as a result of there have been many arduous elements to his formidable plans to constructing his personal distillery to supply the Vodka label, V-One, that he introduced the marketplace almost a decade in the past.
There was the method of discovering a location in Poland, birthplace of each his ancestors and vodka itself, or so the story goes, in addition to designing a facility and getting it constructed. And none of that would occur until he bought sufficient shares of his firm to boost the wanted capital — however not so many shares that he would lose majority possession of the enterprise.
However the keeping-it-all-a-secret half? That was fairly essential as a result of, if phrase ever obtained out to those that had been producing his vodka since he launched his label that he was going into that finish of the enterprise himself, then they might cease producing it for him posthaste and depart him scrambling to not solely fill orders however discover another person to make it within the interim.
So Kozub went to nice lengths to maintain his search after which his constructing venture a secret. And, as he stated, it wasn’t straightforward.
“My household and pals knew, however I needed to actually maintain issues quiet in any other case,” he defined at a brief press convention on Feb. 26 to announce the acquisition and enlargement of a distillery in Kamien, Poland, about two hours southeast of Warsaw. “Each time I went to Poland, I wouldn’t publish it on Fb, as a result of my suppliers are associates of mine they usually’d see that I’m there [Kamien] and never coming to see them, in order that they’d know one thing was happening.”
As famous, he stated this at a press convention, which suggests this large improvement for the corporate is not a secret. Kozub informed these buddies who have been producing his product (the operative phrase there’s ‘have been’) about it a number of weeks in the past, and he stated they fairly completely happy for him. On the Feb. 26 press convention, he informed a number of media retailers, supporters, shoppers akin to MGM Springfield, space bars and eating places, and extra.
It was an emotional announcement and an intriguing new chapter within the V-One story, which began again in 2003, when Kozub began distilling in his residence in Hadley after utilizing a $6,000 inheritance from his “Polish moonshining grandfather” to purchase some gear. There have been quite a few milestones alongside the best way, from the creation of his signature bottle to enlargement into totally different markets; from the addition of a number of new flavors to Kozub’s being named BusinessWest’s Prime Entrepreneur for 2016 (in recognition of all the above).
The distillery, which he describes as a “multi-million-dollar funding,” with out being extra particular, represents the subsequent milestone and one Kozub believes will tremendously speed up progress of the corporate.
“It will permit us to supply 400 occasions extra vodka than we produce at present; we might be trying to not solely increase as a nationwide model, however as a world model,” he defined. “This represents the subsequent stage of the corporate — and a really thrilling stage.”
Elaborating, he stated he doesn’t have a agency timetable, clearly, however expects to increase outdoors of New England and down the East Coast within the years to return, and can then look to broaden globally.
For now, although, he’s targeted on getting the primary bottle off the road in Kamien, one thing that ought to occur on or round April 1.
For this challenge, BusinessWest seems to be at all the things that has introduced Kozub to that second and at what is going to probably occur subsequent.
As he introduced his enlargement into Poland — a return to his household’s roots, if you’ll — Kozub did so with a kind of high-tech slideshow. Solely it began with a couple of low-tech footage that captured a few of these milestones described earlier.
One was of his first home in Hadley, a small Cape that he moved into just some days after his Polish grandfather died, and one other captured its basement, the place he first began making vodka, or “moonshine,” as he referred to as it. A 3rd zoomed in on the particular plumbing that enabled chilly water to run by way of the nonetheless, a improvement that made every little thing that’s occurred since potential.
Different footage captured his first V-One bottle and his first van, which he bought quickly after going into enterprise. He would load it with 100 instances of V-One and ship it to shoppers throughout the area himself.
Sure, that’s lots of firsts. However to take the enterprise ahead in a significant approach, Kozub stated he wanted to regulate manufacturing of his vodka together with his personal distillery. He stated he’s recognized this virtually from the start, however the prices of such a facility have been imposing and, till lately, prohibitive.
However understanding he wanted to take this step, he raised capital by taking over further buyers as a part of a course of that basically started a number of years in the past. Subsequent steps included scouting places and kicking the tires on present distilleries obtainable for acquisition.
With that rationalization, his present shifted to video captured by his telephone as he traveled via the group he ultimately selected to be residence to his distillery.
“There’s hundreds and hundreds of acres of fruit timber right here … it jogs my memory loads of Hadley,” he stated because the automotive transporting him moved down a rural street. “As quickly as I noticed this, I knew it was the place I needed to name residence.”
House, which means the precise distillery itself, has been round for greater than 133 years, and thus it has some historical past, stated Kozub, noting that, throughout World Warfare II, the Nazis took it over and produced totally different sorts of spirits.
The subsequent chapter in its historical past includes a large enlargement essential for producing V-One within the portions that Kozub is envisioning for the years and maybe many years to return. Certainly, the power will embrace, along with the distilling gear, laboratory area (principally for R&D and new product improvement), a bottling space, and warehouse area.
Thus, when requested what this formidable transfer does for the corporate, Kozub stated shortly, “it makes every thing higher.” Elaborating, he stated that, virtually from the start, he has understood the important have to have extra management over each facet of the V-One operation, particularly manufacturing.
“I needed to be in command of manufacturing — I’ve had a lot of manufacturing nightmares over the previous 15 years,” he defined. “Actually, we’ll be planting our personal grain, our personal spelt, harvesting it, and processing it. We wish to say that, from farm to glass, we’ll be answerable for every course of, and that’s the development at the moment.”
Past management, Kozub stated this enlargement into Poland and the opening of his personal distillery permits him to speed up the method of rising the V-One label and taking it into new markets — on this nation after which ultimately overseas.
“I actually by no means needed to make rum or tequila or gin, however I’ve no less than two dozen different vodka merchandise I’d wish to make sometime,” he informed these assembled at V-One world headquarters (a transformed church) on Route 9 in Hadley. “And this enables us to be actually revolutionary with doing a few of that stuff; when another person is making your vodka, you’re restricted to their schedule and their timeframe.”
Shifting ahead, Kozub stated that, whereas he did a promote an curiosity within the firm — one thing he might do solely after its elevating its worth over the previous decade by means of new merchandise and a wider attain market-wise — he’s nonetheless the overwhelming majority proprietor, and nonetheless one who is sort of hands-on and concerned in all elements of the enterprise. That stated, he nonetheless plans to spend the overwhelming majority of his time on this nation, and doubtless go to Poland about as a lot as he does now — perhaps as soon as 1 / 4.
Whereas leaving precise manufacturing within the arms of a supervisor in Poland, Kozub will concentrate on the proverbial massive image and, extra particularly, territorial enlargement for V-One and a scaling up of the operation.
And having his personal distillery, as he stated, will definitely assist on this regard.
“Individuals remark to me on a regular basis … ‘you’re a 13-and-a-half-year-old enterprise; how come you haven’t gotten out of the New England market?’” he informed BusinessWest. “I’ve had some critical manufacturing issues and packaging points which have apprehensive me about moving into Florida or Texas or California, three of the most important vodka markets. This [distillery] will actually permit us to scale up and deal with these challenges.”
Increasing inside the U.S. after which abroad markets will clearly require extra capital, he added, and he plans to promote further shares within the enterprise inside the subsequent yr.
As he continued his slideshow presentation earlier than the press and his supporters, Kozub positioned a map of Poland on the display to point out precisely the place his distillery might be situated.
He did so to supply some extent of reference, supply up a brief lesson on Polish geography, and in addition present the place his ancestors are from — a small city not far Krakow. However he additionally did it to be a contact poetic.
“This actually helps placed on us on the map,” he stated of the distillery, utilizing that phrase to say an awesome deal.
This enterprise is now on the map, actually, and its product might be on — which means obtainable to — a a lot bigger chunk of the map within the years to return due to what this facility will allow the corporate to do.
George O’Brien could be reached at [email protected]