Cider Corner: Overcoming Hurdles at the Start

Just getting up and running is the biggest challenge for any cidery. Now in their sixth year, Schilling Hard Cider CEO Colin Schilling and CFO Mark Kornei shared with Brewer some of the trials it took the Washington cidery to open and shared a few insights to building their business.

Even with the Internet, resources for building a commercial cider house was not yet very abundant before Schilling opened in 2012.

“Cider at that time had very little support,” Schilling said. “Everything you wanted to do you had to figure it out as no one else was doing it yet.”

Managing the utilities in a small space when they started was also a hurdle, Kornei said.

“We didn’t have a ton of electricity, air, or natural gas, so it was important to be efficient with what we were doing,” he noted.

Another aspect Kornei shared was learning to balance production with sales.

“When Colin and I first started, we had enough time to produce or sell, but not both,” he recalls. “That’s when we started hiring folks.”

Although the first production space wasn’t beautiful, it was functional. Schilling noted that putting in the work to get the job done was a key to early success.

“We have a rule to this day that Mark and I do everything we ask anyone else in the company to do at least once before we ask them to do it,” he said.

Paperwork is a evil necessity and both Schilling and Kornei pointed out that having documents in proper order and just being nice to folks will help with getting things done quickly.

“Be professional and courteous,” Kornei said, as Schilling noted that the cidery got all of its paperwork and license — the TTB included — done and approved in under two months. “We did it all ourselves and honestly it was not that hard,” he said. “No need to pay someone else to do this for you.”

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