Jennifer and Jeffrey Herbert were recently named 2019 National Small Business Persons of the Year. Their company, Superstition Meadery, was started in Prescott, Arizona, in 2012. The company is called a meadery because it produces both honey wines and meads, a liquor made from honey wines and water.
Largest Meadery in America
Small Business Trends contacted Jeff to learn about this award-winning American company. The company makes about 100,000 gallons per year.
He started by describing how it all began:
“An obsessive homebrewing hobby led to some amazing meads and a calling to create a one of a kind business,” he writes. Of course, there was more to the Herberts’ success that that.
At first, they operated in an area the size of some bathrooms. There they produce 300 gallons of both mead and cider. Just about two years later, they got two SBA loans. By 2017, sales had grown to almost $2 million dollars and the Herberts had more than doubled their staff.
Jeff spoke about the ingredients that go into a successful business.
“You need an incredible work ethic. Great credit and an unwavering faith in your concept are other must have’s.”
The company exports the mead and hard cider to 36 countries outside of the U.S.
He also says industry specific knowledge is important. Skills you can build on through research and experience are crucial too. The pair have overcome obstacles to get them.
For example, in 2015 they almost went out of business due to a liquor licensing issue. It involved the owner of their tasting room.
Arizona Liquor Laws
Jennifer and Jeff became expert on Arizona liquor laws to make sure they stayed open. They even consulted with officials at the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.
It’s that kind of “all-in” attitude that has made a difference.
Jeff and Jennifer founded the American Mead Makers Association. That’s the US mead industry’s national organization. They are an ambitious couple and it shows. The company has introduced over 150 unique meads and hard ciders since they opened.
They both feel success is also about promoting local businesses.
Jennifer is serving as a Board Member on the local Prescott Downtown Partnership (PDP). That’s a merchant’s association providing a voice for stakeholders in historic downtown Prescott. It works with retail, hospitality and professional businesses and a variety of other interests. The goal is to promote downtown businesses through events and partnerships.
Superstition Meadery’s products are available all through Arizona and they will ship to 37 states and D.C. In the beginning they leased a 20 square foot space to hold four barrels. Jeff is quick to point out there’s a personal side to their success.
“Relationship establishment and maintenance skills are front and center,” he writes. “The ability to find a balance of work, family and exercise is also important.”
In other words, success in business is about more than just dollars and cents. It’s a good piece of advice in a world where customers expect more than just a good product. Both owners are committed to giving back to the community.
Jennifer and Jeff both contribute money, time and resources to that end. Most recently, they partnered to host a fundraiser in support of conserving 47 acres of nature lands.
“We donated 25% of the proceeds from food and drinks to the Forever Dells campaign to protect a very special natural area. Prescott is where people enjoy hiking, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, bird watching and relaxing. We wanted to protect it from commercial development.”
The 2019 Small Business Persons of the Year keep their eyes on the business. They plan on opening a Superstition Meadery in downtown Phoenix Arizona next year. The new place will be the world’s first mead and food pairing restaurant.
The ambitious couple don’t plan on stopping there.
“Once we prove this concept, we believe any city in the world could host this same business model,” Jeff says. “We also will expand distribution domestically and reach new international markets every year.”
Image: Superstition Meadery