Features

The Road to Bedlam

March 30, 2019

For many people, finding the perfect partner is the holy grail. They feel that life will be much better with the right person walking by their side. This may or may not be true (just think about the proliferation of dating apps, and the divorce rate); but, when it comes to spirit brands, getting into the right relationship is everything. It really is the key to a happy, and successful lifespan of a brand.

Nobody knows that better than 2017 WSWA Brand Battle winners, Bedlam Vodka. From their Greybeard distillery established in the heart of Durham, North Carolina in 2016 this award-winning long-grain rice based vodka derives its name from Bedlam, Ireland, and blends the American grown raw material with an old Irish family recipe.

Brandon Evans and his team have quickly achieved many pivotal milestones in just a few years, and with such a unique, high quality spirit.

Tying together the concept of family and trusting in those you know you can count on is what has gotten Bedlam’s co-founders Brandon Evans, Sam Searcy, Ron Templeton, Scott Russ, and Brad Evans this far and enabled them to find distribution in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and New Jersey fairly swiftly. They’re committed to being involved every step of the way, especially as consumers are ever more concerned about the origins of the food & drink they consume. As Searcy says about their production process that starts with a local farmer, “From rice paddy to bottle.”

The small, brand born in Ireland and realized in North Carolina rice field offers a unique grain taste and made big waves when it won Brand Battle, and many high profile opportunities have come their way since that day. Brandon Evans comments, “A lot of it kicked off at WSWA. Winning Brand Battle gives a lot of visibility.”

But that visibility and the enviable high profile opportunities that came after the win – including being an exclusive spirit at the ESPYs, participating at the CMAs, and a partnership with Harley Davidson – haven’t deterred Bedlam’s founders from focusing on what they believe is the perfect equation for growth…finding the right partners. Evans notes, “We have been successful in picking the right distributors. For us it’s key as we are a unique spirit. So, we weren’t just looking for rapid distribution.” Searcy adds, “Relationships are everything.”

It’s that attitude that won them the collaboration with Harley Davidson when the iconic motorcycle company was looking for a partner to help break into a new demographic. And it’s that attitude that led Bedlam to recently announce the addition of a new investor and member of the Board of Directors, Bob Keegan, former CEO and Chairman of Goodyear, and former Chairman of Xerox. Evans explains how the man running some of the most well-known global companies suddenly took an interest in an emerging spirits brand. He shares, “Loyd Builders, where Bob is a partner, is building my new house. We met during the construction process, discussed our business activities and had an immediate professional connection. At Bedlam, we are committed to continuously fostering growth and always finding new opportunities for success. He shares with us a growth orientation which is invaluable as we poise to expand nationally.”

Connections like that don’t come around all the time. But when they do, they make a big difference; for all parties. Bedlam kicked off 2018 with an intent to bring sips to lips and a goal of educating consumers about alternatives to their normal call. Evans notes, “Bob has had a host of major experiences building global brands, and he combines this consumer brand building success with operational expertise. Looking through that lens, Bedlam’s strategic direction aligned with his core belief that the key ingredient in developing a power brand is a superior and differentiated product that fills a sizeable gap in the market space. He is obsessive with creating our industry’s highest end-to-end product quality.”

Keegan adds, “Engaging with the Bedlam brand is very exciting for me.” “Brandon Evans and his team have quickly achieved many pivotal milestones in just a few years, and with such a unique, high quality spirit, there are many attractive growth prospects. As a whole, this industry is gaining momentum quickly, and I’m eager to lend both my consumer product and general management insights to further expand the success of this brand as we move from a regional to a national level.”

Evans concludes with a thought about why his newest addition to the team is both the right fit and part of the promise of a bright future, “In terms of translating his business success and acumen to the vodka industry, Bob believes that consumer product businesses have much in common. All require consumer behavior analysis, segmentation decisions, the development of impactful marketing and pricing programs, distribution channel selection, supply chain management and an ability to allocate capital effectively. The market dynamics may differ by industry but the skills to succeed are not unique. Through our collective leadership, we plan to bring Bedlam to new heights during such a dynamic time in the spirit industry.”

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