Tom Lix, Founder and CEO of Cleveland Whiskey, spoke with us to share more on his innovative brand and product, and on some of the insights he has gained over the years growing his Cleveland based business.
Question: Considering how old the whiskey producing field is and how many producers there are worldwide, what encouraged your gutsy move to start your own whiskey brand?
Answer: While there are certainly many established distillers, growth in world demand is exceeding capacity. With developing countries and rapidly expanding middle class populations, the growth in whiskey consumption, often considered an “affordable luxury” is accelerating and traditional methods of production simply can’t keep pace.
Question: You are described as a serial entrepreneur, innovator, and creative problem solver. What are some examples of this that make you most proud?
Answer: Actually I’ll use Cleveland Whiskey as an example. Our pressure-aging® technology accelerates production while producing better flavors. We meet growing consumer demand, provide a product that this country can export (and that’s important), create new manufacturing jobs right here in Cleveland and of course we actually have fun doing it. How could you ask for more?
Question: Would you do anything differently if you could start your business over again?
Answer: There are a hundred little things I’d do differently. Every day you make mistakes and hopefully you keep learning from them, that’s what makes it interesting.
Question: How is the fact that Cleveland Whiskey can only be distributed in Ohio affecting your business development?
Answer: We are distributing not only in Ohio but also in Illinois and Tennessee. By the end of the year we should be in half a dozen other states as well and now that we’re in Illinois, a state that allows for on-line sales, we are able to get our whiskey out to just about anywhere.
Question: What are your long-term plans – new product lines?
Answer:We’re growing so rapidly it’s really hard to plan beyond a year at a time and even then we have to be pretty flexible with our planning. Right now we’re focused on expanding into additional outlets and additional states. Soon we’ll add a new product and later this summer I expect we’ll add more (stay tuned to Facebook for updates Cleveland Whiskey)