Mead-ing All Over the World
Since Superstition Meadery launched in Prescott, Arizona in 2012, it has introduced over 170 unique beverages. Owners Jen and Jeff Herbert's story is a familiar one where a part-time passion turned into a small business venture. Superstition Meadery wanted to expand into foreign markets. With the possibility of such growth, the business needed capital, and they needed to learn how to prepare, plan, and execute expansion.
Export opportunities are vast with nearly 96 percent of consumers living outside the U.S. and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power in foreign countries. But only an estimated five percent of all of America's small businesses are exporters.
For help, the Herberts turned to SBA’s partner, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Yavapai Community College where they found free business and finance counseling. As a result, the business received two SBA-backed loans in excess of $600,000.
To enter international markets the couple sought assistance from the Arizona Commerce Authority, a recipient of a U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade Export Program (STEP) grant. These grants help small businesses start or expand export sales by assisting with outreach to overseas markets, marketing materials (brochures, websites, social media platforms), attendance at trade shows, both foreign and domestic, and attendance at training workshops.
The company's mead brews are now available in restaurants and stores throughout Arizona, in 37 states, and 13 other nations. At its start, the distillery had two employees but now counts 20 on its payroll. By 2017, the funds from SBA loans helped complete the buildout of a state-of-the-art facility on 1.1 acres with 7,450 square feet of production space. A new SBA loan is now assisting in the opening of a new facility in Phoenix.
From a home-grown setup with minimal revenues, the operation in 2018 produced revenues in excess of $2.6 million. As a result of Jen and Jeff’s unique creativity and vision, Superstition Meadery has been named among the top 100 mead brewers in the world. Production has grown since the business’s beginning from 300 gallons to over 29,000 gallons this year, making them the largest production winery in Arizona. International distribution now supplies fans in Scandinavia, the Far East and Europe.
Of their experiences with the SBDC Jen and Jeff say, “Our introduction to the local SBDC occurred at a critical time. The connections and guidance from our counselors allowed Superstition Meadery to achieve the financing to open our tasting room in Prescott and construct our production facility.”