In this episode, I interview Anthony and Melanie Baker, a husband and wife team who owns and manages Premier Building & Construction. This episode though is not entirely about their construction business. Anthony and Mel share with us their new business venture, the Essence of Harrogate, in detail.
Essence of Harrogate is a gin production business they affectionately refer to as the cousin of the Spirit of Harrogate, producers ofSlingsby Gin.
Anthony and Mel share how they came to start the business, their experiences with the product, their business strategies, and more interesting facts.
What are Anthony and Melanie up to professionally in terms of their normal day jobs?
Premier Building & Construction, the company owned and managed by the husband and wife team of Anthony and Melanie has been operating for 13 years. The company is licensed up and down the East Coast, from Queensland through to Victoria. Predominantly, the company undertakes commercial work like schools, healthcare, retail and industrial.
They also do some housing but mostly top-end housing for their commercial clients.
"We build relationships with people. We're very big on relationships in our business. "
Mel shares their amazing holiday experience last year in Europe where a journey to introduce the Essence of Harrogate to Australia started.
What really stood out with the Harrogate gin that made Mel and Anthony interested.
What was the business motivation behind the Essence of Harrogate?
"We looked at this product and we thought "It's a fantastic product". What a great opportunity for us to share an experience we've had with other people, rather than just get something out for our needs. So for me it was dabbling in something else, something that I'm personally invested in, interested in, which is a premium product and enjoying that luxury and being able to share that with other people. And, you know, maybe along the way we can make a buck out of it as well."
Due diligence or leap of faith?
"So we've received some good feedback and really sound advice from people who've been there and done that. And that led us to consider, well, you know, from a return on investment piece, if this gets embraced properly and the product resonates throughout Australia, which we believe it will, it can probably turn a buck as well. So why not?"
"It's the old 'Sleep on it' rule. We don't make those decisions overnight. We tend to have to keep coming back to the same thing over and over."
"Obviously, we needed to make sure that this was something that we were both going to be fully supportive of. Because we do work together 60 hours a week. We got five kids between us. And, you know, why not start a business?"
The five year vision for the business
Step 1, initial 6 months, they envision a full stock and full sale of the product for Christmas. Next steps would be a more diverse product line.
"Gin is just vodka with flavoring added."
Does the Essence of Harrogate gin need a special garnish to it when served or can it be drunk as it is?
"We think the flavored gins really resonate with Australia and the Australian public, in particular as a summer drink."
Mel discusses one of their approaches in entering the marketing through gin clubs. She also generally discusses what a gin club is.
Their strategy in general is to have clubs, cocktail bars, and high-end restaurants work with their product. Eventually, creating more brand awareness and then hit the retail market.
"You've got to slow down to speed up." This is basically the business principle Anthony and Mel are using for the Essence of Harrogate.
"We want to make sure that the people in Australia, the opportunity to experience the Slingsby brand and the Slingsby drinks in the same way as did."
Mel shares the history of the Spirit of Harrogate and how they want the original product to be the "essence" of Harrogate in Australia.
"The Spirit of Harrogate and the people there were all a family-based company. They're just a big family. And that's what we are. We're just a big family as well. And so for us, the synergy between the two companies and keeping that family feel is important."
"Luxury is something that we should all be providing ourselves in today's day and age."
"Use the good China. Don't save it for a rainy day. So treat yourself and embrace every day."