Concord, NH: The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that they honored Charles “Ash” Fischbein and Matthew Trahan with the 2014 Young Entrepreneurs of the Year award. Fischbein and Trahan were recognized along with several other outstanding entrepreneurs at the annual New Hampshire SBA Small Business Awards event on May 28.
This award recognizes outstanding members of the next generation of entrepreneurs, those under the age of 35 who demonstrate vision, passion, staying power and success in starting a business.
"Not all meads are created equal!" is the message that greets you at the Sap House Meadery retail store and website. At New Hampshire's internationally awarded Sap House Meadery, Ash Fischbein and Matt Trahan, set out on a journey to make one of the oldest fermented drinks in the world, mead, with a New Hampshire twist!
Making wine from honey is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. Ash Fischbein had developed his own recipe for mead which friends and family raved about. The two cousins had a chance conversation of the “let’s start a business” variety on Christmas Day 2009. Only these guys were serious, no failure to launch here.
They didn’t have a lot of money so they bootstrapped by using recycled materials and their own labor to renovate a hundred year old store for the meadery. And they both continued to work full time at day jobs as chefs at local restaurants. Ten months later they had a storefront and their first batch of commercial mead was fermenting.
The partners began experimenting and decided to produce myriad flavors of hand crafted mead using locally sourced ingredients, and reinvigorate their local community in the process. They add various fruits to the honey and yeast to develop different flavors, everything from peaches to blueberries, cranberries or grapes. Their signature ingredient is locally produced maple syrup which is added to many recipes for more complexity. Unlike most mead, theirs is never boiled, they let it ferment and age naturally in American Oak casks and stainless steel from six to twelve months. A frequent comment is that it is surprisingly not too sweet.
The quality and innovativeness of their product has earned them many awards over the past three years. Their meads have won a dozen or more gold, silver and bronze medals in international wine competitions from the Mazer Cup International Mead Competition, to the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and the Florida State Fair International Wine Competition.
The added bonus for Ash and Matt is that they are creating jobs and opportunities in the town they love, Center Ossipee. By using locally produced honey, maple syrup, and fruits, they create a new market for farmers, beekeepers and syrup producers. By selling to locally owned retail stores, they ensure profits stay in local communities. They take that same socially conscious model outside New Hampshire to help other communities benefit from sale of their products as well.
They are determined to have a multiplier effect on Center Ossipee through increased foot traffic from their tours, tastings, classes and retail store. Part of their vision is to breathe new life into downtown and it seems to be working. The meadery is open for wine tastings and tours on weekends. It’s brought columnists, wine aficionados, and new foot traffic into Center Ossipee. They’ve purchased a nearby building with their eyes set on expansion.
“It’s such an honor to be recognized for what we are doing here,” Fischbein stated. Trahan added, “We are staying true to our local roots and community values while creating a world class product.”
Kit McCormick of the Small Business Development Center in Dover nominated Fischbein and Trahan for the award. She said that she was impressed with how they applied themselves to the basics of business success and with their vision to create a values driven business model.
“Ash Fischbein and Matt Trahan embody the spirit of American entrepreneurism and it’s great to see the next generation achieve so much so quickly and shine so brightly.” stated SBA district director Greta Johansson.