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Episode 223 - Starting a Family Business with Andrew Perez
Episode 2235th January 2023 • The Jackson Hole Connection • Stephan C. Abrams
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Andrew Perez is a co-founder and owner of High Point Cider, located in Victor, Idaho. Andrew and his co-founder brother, Alex, grew up in southern New Hampshire. Andrew didn't start off wanting to pursue brewing or making cider; he actually earned a degree in biochemistry from the University of Vermont and worked in a biotech laboratory before transitioning to finance as a financial analyst and consultant. However, at a point where he felt that he needed a change, Andrew got a call out of the blue from his brother who asked if he wanted to quit his job to start a cider company out in Jackson Hole, despite having no experience in cider making. After years of tinkering, location scouting, and a rebrand, the brothers launched High Point Cider. In this episode, Andrew shares with Stephan the challenges they faced, the cider-making process and how they overcame fear and self-doubt. He'll also discuss their plans for the future and how they hope to continue growing High Point Cider.

Learn more about Andrew and Alex Perez at HighPointCider.com

High Point Cider can be found at one of our sponsors, The Liquor Store of Jackson Hole, located at 115 Buffalo Way in Jackson. 

This week's episode is supported in part by Teton County Solid Waste and Recycling announcing this year’s Christmas tree drop-off. Live Christmas trees can be dropped-off at the Teton County Fairgrounds, for residents only, or at the Trash Transfer Station at no cost until January 31 st . All trees must be delivered undecorated and absolutely no tinsel please, as they will be composted. Thank you for keeping these materials out of the landfill. For more information visit tetoncountywy.gov/recycle

Support also comes from The Jackson Hole Marketplace. The Deli at Jackson Hole Marketplace offers ready-made soups, sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and hot lunch specials. More at JHMarketplace.com

Want to be a guest on The Jackson Hole Connection? Email us at connect@thejacksonholeconnection.com. Marketing and editing support by Michael Moeri (michaelmoeri.com)

Transcripts

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You are tuned into the Jackson hole, connection, sharing, fascinating stories

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of people connected to Jackson Hole.

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I am truly grateful for each of you for tuning in today and support

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for this podcast comes from:

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Before I begin today's episode, yes.

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I have a quote to share with you.

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Productivity isn't about being a workhorse, keeping busy

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or burning the midnight oil.

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It's more about priorities, planning and fiercely protecting your time.

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Comes from margarita Tar Toski.

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whenever you're listening to this, this episode's coming out out during the new

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year, but when you're listening to this, it could be whenever, but remember,

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we all have the same amount of time.

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It's a matter of how productive you are with every moment that you use.

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So turn those dings and buzzes off on your cell phone.

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You don't need to know everything or each time a email comes through, trust me,

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I've done it and it's helped me immense.

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And you are listening to episode number 223, and today I was supposed

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to have two guests, brothers who've started a business from the ground up.

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Well, because I've made many mistakes during my podcasting career.

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And Michael so gracefully covers many, many of them Up that you might

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not even recognize or know happened.

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Today you'll have one brother, Andrew Perez.

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As my guest, I made a mistake and Andrew's brother Alex was not

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able to connect for the interview.

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And my apologies to everyone listening and to Andrew and Alex Perez.

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Well these brothers started High Point Cider Company from am Mere Idea.

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They started with their idea before the pandemic came, or even we even

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thought there was a pandemic or even knew one was around and they

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did not allow it to prevent them from launching their cider company.

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Now that is focus folks.

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It's focus planning and setting priorities and.

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The details that Andrew will share with you today.

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I do remember before they even started the company, we had lunch

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and they asked me about the idea and I thought it was a great idea.

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Now we sell lots of their cider cheers to these two brothers, to Alex and

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Andrew for sticking to their dream, working hard, prioritizing their

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time, and seeing their efforts.

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Bear cider.

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Ha ha.

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How about that?

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Andrew, welcome to the Jackson Hole Connection.

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Thank you for taking some time outta your day to sit down and

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talk with me.

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Yeah, of course.

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Thanks so much for having me.

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You bet.

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So, We all come from someplace and started off before we landed here, except

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for those very few people who were, who've been born and raised here in Jackson.

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fortunate enough for that.

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I don't believe you were born and raised here, so curious to know.

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where you were born and, and

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grew up.

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I am not born and raised here and my brother was not born and raised here.

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we grew up in Southern New Hampshire, so we're probably 40,

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45 minutes like north of Boston.

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and it was kind of right on the edge of where the, like Boston suburb

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kind of meets like New Hampshire.

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Wilderness Ruralness as far as the East Coast considers wilderness

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I, I hear Southern New Hampshire first you said Southern and New Hampshire.

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It's like you have no southern accent whatsoever, ever.

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Is this a Southern New Hampshire accent?

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the only discernible accent that I think I might have is I definitely

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picked up a bit of a Canadian accent.

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Cause I used to, live in Burlington, Vermont and race bikes with a bunch

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of Canadians, means I used to heckle a bunch of Canadians and then with

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words like, And about, people say that I have a Canadian accent.

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Sometimes it slips.

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And what type of bicycles were you racing?

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Oh, back when I was stupid and didn't know the ways of, the ways

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of how fun mountain bikes can be.

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It was all like road racing and cyclo cross racing.

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Mountain bikes are way better.

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Are they

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? Yeah.

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get

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to go downhill a lot more.

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Yeah.

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And like getting taken out in a crit, going like 35 around the

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90 degree corner or something.

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Usually leaves half of your body pretty chewed up.

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as a, did you happen to.

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Yes.

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Yeah, definitely.

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Definitely gotten a lot of, lot of road rash from road races.

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Oof.

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That's that's rough.

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But you got back on.

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Yeah.

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It's fun.

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Yeah.

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And then you realize that mountain bikes are more fun, so

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why do that on pavement ? Sure.

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And so you grew up in New Hampshire do you, and do you go to

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college?

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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So that was part of Burlington.

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I went to, uh, the University of Vermont.

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High school guidance counselor senior year told me it was better to pick a major

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going in than just going in undecided.

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So I thought, mm-hmm biochemistry sounded cool and then four years and a couple,

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teeth kickings later I graduated with a BS in biochemistry, which was awesome.

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I was really fortunate and was able to do some undergraduate

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research during that time, and.

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the assistant faculty who was her assistant professor, who was my mentor

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at the time, was absolutely awesome.

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and one of the best mentors slash friends anyone could have hoped for.

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That's

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awesome.

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college university opens up many doors, doesn't it?

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Yes.

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Yeah.

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And

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did you follow that world of biochemistry?

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At

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some point.

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Yeah.

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So I moved right after graduation.

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my best friend growing up was starting a PhD program out at,

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university of Wisconsin Madison.

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top 10 programs are really good for really strong like hard science programs.

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Spring senior year, he just called me and asked me if I wanted to move to, Madison,

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Wisconsin with him to, you know, just hang out while he starts his PhD program.

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I said, sure.

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I raced bikes and Uber drove for, you know, basically that summer and I was

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like, okay, it's time to be grow up and be a real boy and get a real job.

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and Madison has a ton of, biotech companies vis-a-vis those strong, like

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hard science programs from the university.

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Um, so I ended up working, it was very similar to a lot of the research

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and lab work that I had been doing as an undergraduate, which was awesome.

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But then it was also kind of a kick in the pants of, it was kind of

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the double edge of the reason I got hired was I could do these things

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and I already knew how to do them.

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but that didn't leave a lot of room for learning.

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So I actually found that job like quite boring.

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it was on the production side.

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It was basically scaling up.

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, basically growing specific types of cancer cells that we had put a

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couple specific genes into, like that gene that makes things glow green.

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So basically pharma companies could use these and see, oh, if I trigger this

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cell signaling pathway, which may or may not be good for my drug, I can then

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look at these under a microscope and.

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that this little handshake has happened.

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Be because the cell is glowing green or something like that.

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the, the concepts of it was really cool, but then doing that in a

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clean room and spending multiple hours a day a week, making cells

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inside of a clean room isn't super glamorous or exciting or stimulating.

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Sounds quite repetitive.

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Incredibly repetitive so like the, the final product we were actually

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like packaging and selling, was probably a couple hundred microliters.

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It might have been a milliliter of finished product, which

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is like a pretty small.

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Total volume.

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and that group was working on basically building a robot to like

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do that for us because we would have to be in a hood unscrew a tiny

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little like sterile, vile dispense.

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One milliliter of cells into it and then like twist this file cap back on and

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do that as many times within an hour as you could . And I remember being

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so bored that I just gamified that.

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So I didn't go insane to see how fast I could go and I was faster

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than the robot that they were designing to replace that job.

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And I was like, this is one, I don't like this.

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And two, something needs to change.

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So did you go back to biking?

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Um, biking kind of stayed on the back burner.

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I, the great thing about that job was, a lot of times in science you just

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kind of end up, or specifically in like biology, you just end up waiting

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for like the biology to be ready.

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so I was a salaried employee and depending on the day, could usually.

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All the things I needed to do within like five or six hours

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out of a eight hour workday.

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So then I'd just leave and go ride my bike, which was awesome.

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And so what decided to bring you out here and what year did you land here?

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In, in this area?

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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That's a great question.

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So after.

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been at the biotech for a little bit.

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A grad student I used to work with called me and was like, Hey, I work

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at this consulting firm and I think it's something that you would be good

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at if you are looking for a change.

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And I was like, I am looking for a change cuz this whole

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biotech thing is pretty boring.

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so flew back out to the East coast, learned a whole lot in a

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pretty condensed amount of time.

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Never went to school for like finance or anything.

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Right.

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I was hard science, analytical through and through.

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and I was basically the like quantitative analyst, financial modeler type

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guy, which again, I never had any experience doing and had to learn

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how to do it very, very quickly.

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. And then after a couple years of doing that, is kind of the typical consultant.

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Just burnout out of it was a lot of hours and a lot of work, and the pay

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was pretty okay, but at the end of the day, it's not super rewarding to try and

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figure out how to like maximize profit for large, very, very large corporations.

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and it was the week it was on one or two red eyes that week.

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And then my brother in 2018 just happened to call me and he was like,

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Hey, do you wanna quit your job?

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Like I absolutely wanna quit my job.

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Cool.

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Do you wanna move to Jackson Hole and start a cider company?

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. That's very interesting.

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So two weeks later I booked a plane ticket and flew it to Jackson Hole.

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And like six weeks later I was driving across the country

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with all of my possessions,

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And, and what prompted your brother to wanna start a cider company in

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming?

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Yeah, So we grew up on Napa Orchard.

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we never like produced cider out of it really.

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but cider was big back on the east coast.

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and then the time between college and the then present day of 2018.

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, both of our parents realized that they were super, super

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allergic to gluten, and that that allergy is incredibly hereditary.

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so then I also found out that I was incredibly allergic to gluten.

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And as Alex, my brother tells it, he was floating down the

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river on the 4th of July.

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and this was kind of before like the advent of hard seltzers and all

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of that took the market by storm.

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and he was just floating down thinking like there's just not, if it was back

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east or something, like he'd just have a can of cider floating down the river.

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But he is like, there's.

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Really place that I can like go get that.

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Which then transitioned into like, no one around here is really making kind

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of like canned modern American hard cider, which then transitioned to, he

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was working sales at GE at the time.

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Moved to Jackson, be, he wanted to enjoy all of.

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all of the things that make Jackson Jackson and then realize

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that he probably wasn't unhappy because of where he was living.

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He was probably unhappy because of what he was doing for work.

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and all of that kind of culminated from, huh, you can't really get

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cider out here to, we should start a CI company in the te.

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Big,

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big move for you two, for you and your brother to say, we're gonna

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leave these big jobs that we have that are, I guess in some ways

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quite secure to go start your own

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thing.

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Yes.

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The kicker is we had both quit our jobs to start a cider company before

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we'd ever made a single batch of cider

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Hey, if you do it, jump into

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it.

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Which saying that out loud seems really dumb.

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And if someone told me, I'm gonna go quit my job to go do something

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I've never done before, I.

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Ask them several follow up questions, probably from a place of concern,

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but there's definitely something to not knowing What you don't know,

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How

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so in, in what you guys did?

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I mean, there's the like naivete and like overconfidence of being, you know,

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young, dumb overconfident in yourself.

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All of those good things.

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, fermentation Science isn't necessarily overly hard or difficult, but it

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is incredibly, incredibly nuanced.

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so it's not, technically challenging.

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It doesn't require PhD to be able to do it.

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it just requires.

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An immense amount of care throughout the entire process

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as you're doing these things.

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so we got out here and bought just about every book we could

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read on how to make cider.

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but the cider market, especially in this country, excuse me, in

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my view, it's kind of divided.

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There's kind of two schools of thought right now.

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One of them is kind of the school that we're in, and it's that cider,

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or at least this modern American style of cider is, you know, we're

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just trying to make it lower price point, really accessible to consumer.

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Something that tastes good, has high quality ingredients, all that good stuff.

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But at the end of the day, we're not taking six months, nine months.

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We're not aging things.

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Oak barrels to get these products at the door, which in general has

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kind of been the MO for a lot of smaller craft cider producers.

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just cool, you can make some really interesting stylistically

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different delicious ciders that like were straight up basically

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not able to make just because of.

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The production investments that we've made, it just doesn't quite line up

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for producing those types of cider.

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but the kicker is, no one tells you how to make the fast churn modern American stuff

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because the only people who are doing it.

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Are basically existing corporations who aren't going to tell you how they're

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doing their core business function.

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so it's like one of the first books we read.

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It's a really good book.

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It's written by a French guy, John Claudeo or something like that.

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And I think in the.

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, introduction of it.

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So before we even get to any of the cider part, it basically said

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if your cider doesn't take a year to make, it's not worth making.

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well, whoa, we're very far apart on that issue.

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so yeah, and that's like, going into the, back when we met and stuff like we

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were in our living room, in the queue space for a little bit, which we're

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very, very fortunate to let, or rather we were very, very fortunate that Gavin,

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just let us go in and use that space because it's way easier to make a mess

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in a room that has floor drains and just hose everything down, , then make

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a mess in the living room and go cool.

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I need to live here too.

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And just not having any, any space, in the house to live in.

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God, that was awful.

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. So awful.

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So when did you and your brother launch your first?

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product line.

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Yeah, so we were probably doing 10 fermentations every month from

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probably winter fall 2018 through, through probably the summer of.

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21 fall of 2021.

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and all of that was just recipe iterations.

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so we probably did 200 plus individual little five gallon fermentations of cider,

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all home brew equipment, all this stuff.

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Most of those in the living room.

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just trying to dial in which yeast are we going to use, what type

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of ginger are we going to use?

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Just trying to answer all of these recipe related questions.

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What's the contact time, et cetera, et cetera.

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the kicker with alcohol is unlike.

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Baking breads or something like this because it's a fermented product.

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We couldn't go to the people's market or farmer's markets with our, you know,

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little six pack bottles of cider and sell it because according to the government

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that's bootlegging and is super legal.

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huh So we had to wait until we were basically operational and fully licensed.

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, our facility in Victor before we could start actually making and selling cider.

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so we didn't, definitely did not, especially if anyone

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from the DTP is listening.

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We did not sell any cider for those initial three years.

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We put a lot of cider down, down the whole bathtub drain . Oh man, because

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we, I mean, we're, we're poor too, right?

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We had 10 kegs and we were doing 10 firms a month.

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So if those kegs hadn't been drunk by us or our friends by the next month,

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like, well, we need that keg so I can put the most current firm in it.

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Right?

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What a commitment to start off like that.

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You guys were willing to go for your best, your highest quality?

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I mean, 10 batches You said

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a week?

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10 a month.

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10 a month?

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Yep.

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And that

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was over, what, two years?

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Pretty much.

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Yeah.

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And they're like, some months were down.

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Some months were up.

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But yeah, it was basically 10 a month for, for two years.

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every one of those being a slightly different iteration, variation,

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condition, always testing, always trying to iterate just as fast as possible.

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X.

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What we learned very quickly is there's not gonna be a lot of external help or

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resources available for how to do this.

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So time to learn how to do it as fast as possible.

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. And how did you guys acquire your fruit?

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What type of fruit were you guys using or do you use?

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Yeah, that's a great question.

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So we, at that time we were working, with kind of a network of family farms

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and a press facility down in Colorado.

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down on the west.

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Slope of Colorado is a fantastically wonderful climate for fruit.

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as soon as you start climbing out of like grand Junction up kinda into the,

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into the mountains, there's a really temperate climate zone from like

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seven to 9,500 feet or something where there's awesome pears or peaches rather.

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If you've ever had the palisade peaches that come through town, like it's

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just a fantastic fruit growing region.

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but then once we got to our new facility, Kind of outs stepped or matched like

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the capacity that those farms in that press facility could keep up with.

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so we transitioned to a juice supplier out of Washington.

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So we get, and even back when we were it out of the living rooms, Didn't have

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room to do any pressing or store apples.

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Like I barely had room for like my bed in the apartment and at this point, , you

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know, we're shipping in full tanker folds of juice, 5,500 gallons at a time.

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Each gallon is anywhere from eight to 12.

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Kinda like fifth size dessert, or no, not gallon.

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Each pint is like four to six.

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kind of fifth size dessert apples, and there's roughly 10 ish pints in a gallon.

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so we would be, we would be looking.

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Significant semi folds of apples in order to hit the same amount of like juice

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production that we're getting just then.

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Also like Teton Valley, Wyoming isn't exactly set up to literally

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have to like process or compost a mountain of Apple husks.

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. Yeah.

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Just the waste from the press

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would be colossal.

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Yeah.

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Cause we'd

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need to ship in quite a process.

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Process to find ways to get rid of that safely.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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And then it's also from a, you know, carbon perspective

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and stuff like that too.

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We'd be sending in three to four to five trucks, where if we press it, closer

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to the orchard, that's just one truck.

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Mm-hmm.

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. That makes sense.

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. But yeah, the apples were using, they're all, it's a dessert blend, so they're

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basically all apples you would see, at the supermarket that basically aren't pretty

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enough to make it to the supermarket.

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so they get smashed into cider, smashed into apple juice and stuff like that.

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But the juice we get inbound is incredibly tasty.

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it's probably the freshest juice you can get around here.

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Save for pressing it yourself.

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it usually gets pressed either that day or maybe like the night

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before pumped onto a truck, and it's anywhere from 10 to 14 hours for

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the truck to show up here, so it.

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Is basically zero day old when it lands at High Point, and I definitely

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just pull a pint off of the tanker and drink it while it's filling the tanks.

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That's awesome.

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So Andrew, we're gonna take a quick break to get a word from one of our sponsors

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and then have some questions for you.

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Fantastic.

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Andrew, welcome back.

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We're talking.

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You and your brother, Alex, decided to start a cider company.

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Knew nothing about making cider much less, there wasn't really any

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helpful information to make the type of cider that you wanted to make.

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Did you and your brother ever feel that?

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Getting into this, it's like, have that time where, what are we doing?

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We we shouldn't be doing?

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All the time, but that's, yeah.

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all the time.

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so why

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did you guys keep it, keep going?

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What kept you going?

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Um,

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I think this comes down to, I think one of the lessons, unexpected

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learnings that both he and I shared is, if you're going to.

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A business, get a partner to do it with.

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there were, I'm trying to think the, probably the lowest of the low, was

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this was probably, this was probably spring of 2019 or maybe summer of 2019.

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we'd iterated through probably four or five.

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Locations, concepts, business plans, locations in Jackson, and

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none of them were going to work.

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So we didn't have an immediate step forward on a location to actually make

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this business a business, which as we touched on before, until we had that

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we couldn't start generating revenue.

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And we also get a cease and desist, for the current name that

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we were like operating under.

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We used to be called, solitude Cider.

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We've since rebranded to High Point Cider cause apparently Solitude is a.

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A tiny little wine brand that's part of a larger umbrella portfolio or something.

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And they basically told us to stop using that name or, there's gonna be a lot

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of problems, which was learning for us.

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That's when we learned that cider is, technically wine.

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and if you can think of all of the differently named wineries there are

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in the country, there are a lot of names that you cannot use as a cider

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company because someone already owns them or trademarked them for wine.

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so that was probably the lowest of the low.

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We had no concrete steps forward because we had it.

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It was to the point where multiple times I had driven.

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Block by block around Jackson Hole and was literally like, oh, that's a warehouse.

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Oh, there's a window.

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I'm gonna go see if there's anything in it.

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and we had exhausted just about every known location in Jackson proper.

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So not having a path forward.

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very disheartening.

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And then getting a cease and desist that was like cool.

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So not only do we not have a concept to move forward with, we also

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don't even have a name anymore.

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This is pretty not fun.

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but I'd say other than that, One of the things that really kept us going

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other than the shared vision was be it fate or coincidence or someone just

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having a stiffer upper lip on some days.

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It never seemed like Alex or I both had a bad day on the same day, and I

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think just like looking over at the other person being like, ah, shit.

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Alex still wants to do.

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, I guess I have to do it and just keep like keeping going forward.

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yeah, there's some, there's some dark days for sure.

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And so now you find a place in Idaho.

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What prompted you

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Yes to.

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Go over there versus maybe going down to Alpine or doing it in Pinedale or

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Bonderant.

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Yep.

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we have, we were, and had been looking at once Jackson was like, it's, it's

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going to be incredibly prohibitive for us to do it here, or we're now

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gonna be adding like, years amount to this timeline because we'll have to.

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find funding to build a building or something like that.

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we had been exploring, we never really looked at Bonderant, I guess.

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cause that gets difficult from like shipping things into Bonderant.

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definitely.

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We're looking at Alpine.

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We're definitely looking at Victor.

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and we're pretty 50 50 on like.

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Either can work, let's just see if we can find a space.

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and then very fortuitously Silicon Colar, cause this was pre Covid was still

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doing their chance meetings in person.

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and we met Mikey Franco at one of those meetings, started talking to him.

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and he, with one of his clients was developing a.

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A strip of warehouses, production or industrial park, basically over in Victor.

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so that ultimately was very fortuitous and is where we are today.

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Nice,

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just meeting somebody

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over a cocktail.

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Yep.

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. Yeah, that's, that's part of the magic of, uh, you you know, one silicon.

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Cool are, but I think also kind of a reflection of the Jackson

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community is Yeah, it can be a cocktail at the Rose, it can be, you

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know, it can be a Gandhi, J H M R.

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Like you never know who you're going to sit next to and you never know what either

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they know or might be able to be like, oh, that massive problem you're having.

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. Yeah.

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Like, no worries.

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I, I, that's right in my wheelhouse, I can just wave my fingers, snap my

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fingers, whatever, and make it go away.

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Like, wow,

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And now that you guys are on the shelves,

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how much are you guys making a year?

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Like when you first, the first time that you patted on the shelves and then to

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now, cuz you're a few years into it.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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April, 2021, we, I was just pulling some end of year reporting.

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we 3.2 x our production capacity from 2021 to 2022.

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the majority of that being, distributed sales rate, the tap room's awesome.

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It's a fantastic kind of community gathering spot.

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Fantastic to see all of the engagement and events that we're doing.

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Ultimately, just thinking of it, from a like volume perspective, there's only

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so much cider we can sell at one bar, so then trying to get in as many store

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shelves as many breweries, et cetera, like that has always kind of been our vision

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just because that, that is scalable.

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we're.

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Good or well experienced in kind of the hospitalities restaurant,

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tap room, et cetera, industry.

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So trying to copy and paste those is a model that a lot of people or a lot

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of other brands have had success with.

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currently we're not in a.

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Place where like we could do that.

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Well, I don't think, cuz I'm not great at running a tap room, I

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don't really wanna run a tap room.

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our tap room manager, Kate Driscoll is fantastic.

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. She does a lot of, lot of the hard work that I don't know

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how to do, which is wonderful.

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but from a production perspective, I mean, we went from one of the like,

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oh my goodness, why are we doing this?

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Moments came.

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The first batch in the new facility.

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We went from only ever doing five gallon batches, one fermentor at a time, right?

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Our first batch at.

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The, the Victor facility, we went straight into a 1,240 gallon batch because

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that's how big our fermenters were now.

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so it's like a 250 x, something like that, increase in batch size, which was

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absolutely an objectively horrifying the first time and now it's like we're.

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We're doing about a tanker a month, which is about 5,500 gallons a month.

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So we just overshot by a little bit.

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We just broke a thousand barrels of production for 2021, or not.

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2022 is the year we're currently in.

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We just crossed a thousand barrels for 2022.

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and we're at probably 30 to 40% operational capacity and all of that has

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transitioned in 18 months, 20 months from being like this one tank is horrifying

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and I've never worked with anything.

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Mm-hmm.

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this big to just being able to get cider in, get cider out.

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It's been awesome

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now.

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To go from that five gallon batch to, you said it's a 1200 gallon for

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mentor.

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Yep.

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Is it as

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easy as like doubling the recipe for a batch of

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cookies?

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In some ways it isn't.

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In some ways it isn't, and we've learned that it's.

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always linear.

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it depends on the product you're trying to make.

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It depends on the underlying juice blend and if you have to do any like inbound

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chemistry to get it where you want to be, none of which we knew at the time so yeah,

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we were just assuming slash hoping slash praying that it is just like doubling

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your batch of cookies, except it's.

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200 doubling your batch of cookie, I guess a hundred doubling soup, batch of cookies.

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yeah, it was crazy.

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It was not what we initially wanted to do.

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We wanted to do a half batch, but I did that.

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I think I very quickly did some math wrong.

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So then in order to like, get it back to where we wanted to be, instead of a half

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batch, we were now doing a full batch.

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and it came out great.

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It was really tasty cider.

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but like even that, I remember sitting down with Alex and just like at this

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point we'd been tasting our own cider for, you know, two years or whatnot.

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So it's.

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Whether or not you have a trained pallet or something, if you do something that

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consistently, like you will have a very good body of knowledge from like a

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flavor and trained pallet perspective.

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And we were sitting, in the tap room.

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We hadn't even been opened yet.

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We probably weren't opening for another like four weeks, and we were just having

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this massive existential crisis of like, oh my God, is the cider good enough?

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I don't know.

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I don't know if the ginger notes spicy enough or if the transplant's aply enough.

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So in the middle of this, like freak out existential death spiral, , we

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texted Max from the head brewer Roadhouse, who's awesome, awesome guy.

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And was like, max, can you please come over and taste some cider?

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he's like, yeah, sure, sure, sure, I'll be right over.

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we did a tasting with him and he was basically.

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, you guys are morons.

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The cider's great.

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like, whatever.

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This is just like, stop . It's like, okay, thanks, thanks Max.

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but yeah, that, that moment is seared into my memory and I'm

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eternally grateful for him just.

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Like telling us to shut up and everything's gonna be fine.

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. Yeah.

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I mean, trying to search for per perfection, you almost, you could

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have ruined it all to where for other people it, it was perfect.

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It's just what they wanted.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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Exactly.

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And that's like in the pursuit of quality, perfection, I.

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as naive to think that we can ever achieve that, but that's something

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we have a lot of conversations around is quality and Right.

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It's an agricultural product.

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The ginger batches fluctuate.

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There's always kind of this little bit of wiggle, whether you could do the same

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thing 10 outta 10 times and you'll get 10 slightly different cis at the end of it.

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Mm-hmm.

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, but in.

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Conversation equality.

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They're not any worse or necessarily better.

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They all have really good quality ingredients in them.

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And then at the end of the day, is a consumer going to notice that this batch

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is 5% spicier than the previous one?

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It's like if you're not tasing these back to back, day in, day out like

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we are, you're probably not gonna be able to tell the difference and that.

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something we keep coming back to is like, just because we,

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or I can tell the difference.

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Does that difference actually matter?

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Okay, we're good.

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As

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long as the difference isn't, sacrifice quality, I

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don't think it does.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, yeah.

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Exactly.

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So what's next for.

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You and your brother and High Point Cider?

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Yeah, it's been, a crazy two years.

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we, as of September now have, distribution partners for the rest of Idaho, excluding

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Teton County, Utah, and Colorado.

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so before we were putting everything in a cider van and driving all over the place.

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, we'll still do that for the local markets.

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but having distributors is a blessing and a curse.

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And right now I would say it's almost entirely a blessing.

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what's next is, I mean, we're, we're rocking and rolling.

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we're up to, you know, a handful of employees, which is just wild to

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think about cause it's been this thing that's just basically been me and Alex.

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The last three years and in the last year, we've brought on, or I guess

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as of right about now, or January 1st, we'll have four, five full-time

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employees excluding, my brother and I, which is wild to think about.

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but then as far as you know, the actual cider industry is concerned, we're making.

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Nothing in terms of volume.

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A thousand barrels a year is, Hmm.

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A, a company like Seattle or Anger Orchard like, you know, they

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spill more cider than we make.

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They probably don't, cause that's a lot of cider to be wasting,

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but like the, it doesn't even.

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, our total production is like a rounding error for their production facilities.

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so we definitely have a long way to go.

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Our current goal, is hopefully to scale it and raise, a decent amount of capital

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to actually make some pretty significant investments into Teton County, and into.

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Really, again, kind of taking inspiration from like Max and the crew

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over at Roadhouse and all those folks.

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really trying to make this a sustainable company both from the environmental

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perspective, but also from the employer employee lifestyle perspective.

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manufacturing jobs are kind of few and far between in the Tetons.

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and basically just trying to grow and really be innovative innovators or

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industry leaders, both for cider in either the methods or styles and stuff

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that we're making, but also from a cultural and employee perspective, a.

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, my brother and I are both very well familiar with kind of the extractive

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corporate climates that capitalism in this country tends to produce.

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So then vis-a-vis, it's our company and we can make our own decisions.

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How can we responsibly grow this so that people maybe aren't the most excited every

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day to show up to the old cider factory and clock in to, to make some apple juice,

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but making it a place where truly people.

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Valued.

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It's a good place to work.

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It's fair Pay for fair work, stuff like that.

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something I'm incredibly proud of, is we've, for our full-time

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folks, we've offered health insurance since more or less, the

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first, people full-time signed on.

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as a company that's a year and a half old to offer health

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benefits is pretty atypical.

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Just generally.

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would we have a lot more money to fund our growth if we weren't, weren't

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shelling out for medical plans?

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Sure.

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But also like why

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Yeah, there's

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still people and it's wonderful that you, that.

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, what you and your brother bring to the organization and hopefully teaching

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somebody else along the way who's there that, how important that is.

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that they have the, for example, the medical insurance, that,

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that money's not going into your pocket, but it's going into them.

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Yep.

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Yeah.

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And you know, we're not totally.

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Saints about it.

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I don't have enough money to cover the full monthly premium for those policies,

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but you know, we split it . Yeah.

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You're doing what you can.

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Yeah, sure.

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I'd love to do more and hopefully we can in a couple of years when we're

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cruising and selling some more cider.

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So how

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can people connect with you and your brother?

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Yeah.

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great question.

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I think our highpoint emails are probably the best way to

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get in touch with either of us.

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and those are just Andrew and or alex@highpointcider.com.

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and then we also have, you know, phone number, contact form,

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stuff like that on the website.

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if you're just looking for a more kind of general request.

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. And

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can people find you like on Facebook and Instagram, the, the Highpoint Cider

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Company?

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Yes.

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Highpoint Cider on Instagram.

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my brother handles all the social medias, so you'll definitely be able

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to get ahold of him on social media.

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Your mileage may vary with me on social media,

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Fair enough.

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Fair.

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Well, I, I'm excited for you guys.

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you know, before we started the interview, you and your brother and I met for some

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Thai food back in 2018, and I don't think you guys had even started a production

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yet, even testing yet, and wonderful to see that, where you guys are now and,

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you know, we can't keep it on the shelf.

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It sells so fast.

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We have trouble keeping it stocked to where people buy cold.

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TLS you guys plow through cider, which is wonderful.

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And thank you for the support

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We'll keep on making great cider, Andrew, and we'll keep on selling it buddy.

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. Heck yeah.

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Yeah,

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we'll let you get back to it.

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it's raining over here today.

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Might snow.

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Let's see.

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See what happens.

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It's kind of odd that it's 40 degrees outside right now.

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Hopefully it's snowing higher up.

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I don't know that it is

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Yeah.

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Awesome.

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I'm sure it's doing something.

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Well, Andrew, thank you.

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Congratulations to, to you and your brother Alex, and you guys are doing

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it, and keep on being great employers and caring about the people who

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come to help you guys be successful

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every.

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Thank you so much.

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We will definitely keep trying as best we can.

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I bet you will.

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All right, Andrew.

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Awesome.

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Thanks so much.

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You got it.

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Take

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care.

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Happy holidays.

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Cheers.

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To learn more about Andrew and Alex Perez and Highpoint Cider

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Company, visit the Jackson hole connection.com, episode number 223.

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Get out there and share this podcast with your friends, family, your neighbors.

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I'm sure everybody can learn and experience something from the

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guests that I have, cuz I know I do.

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Thank you for everyone who helps.

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Keep this.

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Podcast on the air, especially my wife Laura, my boys Lewis and

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William, and of course Michael.

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You are a rockstar every week for doing all the editing, marketing,

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and finding guests for me.

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I appreciate you sharing your time with me today.

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Cheers till next week when I see you right back here for another episode

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