Spirits of Old Bennington adds new partners, eyes growth

NORTH BENNINGTON — Over a year after opening a tasting room at the old Vermont Tissue Mill in North Bennington, Spirits of Old Bennington has added two new partners in an attempt to continue growing the business.

Co-founder and distiller Ken Lorenz incorporated the business in 2014, after almost a decade of dreaming of opening a craft distillery of his own. Lorenz, along with his wife, Alexis, moved the budding business into its new 3,000 square foot home in the mill building in June of 2016. What started as a part-time venture has now grown into a full-time enterprise, with a line of products — which currently includes Sedition Gin, Covered Bridge Rum, Fritz's Apple Brandy, and Kilted Wheat Whiskey — that is available in 51 stores and several restaurants and bars across Vermont and New York.

To help with the brand's continuing evolution, Lorenz has brought on board two new partners in professors Jeb Gorham and Stacey Hills of Southern Vermont College's McCormick Division of Business. Gorham and his students worked with Lorenz on forming his original business plan in 2013. This summer, Lorenz reached out to Gorham about internships, but the conversations rapidly developed into something more. Moving forward, Hills will serve as brand marketing strategist and Gorham's title will be business growth strategist.

Lorenz called the partnership, "a no-brainer."

"After years pushing this business forward on my own I have finally found partners that fit my goals and ambitions," he said. "Finding co-founders is tricky. After seeing the work that Jeb and Stacey have done over that last few years I was very excited to have them join me. I am looking forward to fresh ideas and new focus on our brand."

Hills earned a bachelor's degree in economics and international studies from Russell Sage College and a Ph.D. in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She spent ten years teaching at Utah State University before joining SVC as Business Division chair and associate professor in 2013.

Gorham joined SVC in 2011 and holds degrees from Skidmore College and the University of Maryland, College Park in biology and kinesiology and a Ph.D. in sport and exercise science and sport administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

"(Hills') expertise in branding and marketing make her a valuable asset to the team," said Lorenz. "Gorham is the ideas guy and always thinking about how to reframe business directions and create the successful pivot."

Moving forward, Lorenz said he hopes to expand the distillery, which was recently nominated as Vermont Small Business Administration's MicroEnterprise of the Year, into additional space in it's current location. They will also implement "a strategic focus on premium gin and rum product lines, a new product line of canned cocktails, expanded distribution and a full overhaul of the brand and marketing tactics."

To learn more about Spirits of Old Bennington, visit them online at www.spiritsofoldbennington.com.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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