Disobedient Spirits

    • iup disobedient spirits

Robert Begg and Robert Sechrist had long, distinguished careers as professors at Indiana University of PA (IUP), but as they approached retirement, they wanted to pursue some of their other interests. Sechrist had substantial experience as an analyst in the wine industry where he had been honored as a Certified Specialist in Wine Postnominal. Begg had a chemistry degree from Yale, but had taught in a different subject area. When Pennsylvania legalized micro distilleries, they began thinking about applying their backgrounds to this new opportunity.

The Assistance

In what proved to be the shortest part of the journey, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center (SBDC) assisted them in writing their initial business plan through which they were able to raise the funds they needed to get established. Additionally, the SBDC assisted with branding and made them aware of assistance available through the Communications Media Department at IUP. The partners came up with the brand name of “Disobedient Spirits” to reflect Western Pennsylvania’s Whiskey rebellion and the idea of objecting to injustice. Students from Communications Media and the SBDC met with a principal and helped come up with graphics to present the brand effectively.   

Results

The principals purchased an abandoned grocery store and renovated it into a first-rate facility.

The principals navigated the long process of establishing the necessary licenses to open a micro distillery and have had a number of the formulations they established for distilled spirits approved for sale.

The business opened their facility in December of 2014 with a private reception at which over several hundred people celebrated their achievement.

They have already signed up nine local bars and have every confidence that they will be able to grow their distribution.

They have developed a line of flavored brandies and vodkas, including their premium blue corn vodka.

Disobedient Spirits now has eight employees.