In this chapter of Start-Up Stories we spoke to Neil Osborne, the Managing Director of the Northumberland Spirit Company. He covers everything from Supply Chain and culture to competing in the Spirits category…
What’s the Northumberland Spirit Co all about?
It’s all about making the finest spirits we can, providing the best customer service we can and leaving people with the most positive experience we can.
When did you decide you wanted to start a business?
“I started my first business aged 20 selling socks on a market.”
This time round the contract I was working on was coming to an end in September 2016, so in spring of that year I started looking for a new job. I quickly realised that there were few jobs around that appealed to me and I was lacking qualifications to work for the council. As it happened, I’d been making Gin for my wife for around 2 years before that, to great local acclaim, so it wasn’t a massive jump to starting the Northumberland Spirit Co following a chance conversation with a neighbour.
How have you found competing in the Spirits category?
There is no shortage of competition out the in this market so getting a foothold can be challenging. I can’t sell to save my life, so I need people to help me with that. To that end I have a great sales team who are now getting us wider exposure nationwide.
How do you see your supply chain evolving in the future?
Supply chain is key, particularly when you leave your immediate area. It is a real risk taking on a rep you can only manage remotely or an agent/distributor over whom you have little control. We’re trying out different approaches and as of yet this matter is undecided.
What’s the culture like at Northumberland Spirit Co?
The closest I’ve ever come to culture is in a yogurt. In truth we’re a pretty laid-back bunch, mostly the wrong side of fifty but with a wealth of different experiences in both life and work.
What kind of person fits in well at a start-up business?
Anybody who wants to do it badly enough.
“Nobody knows what ideas will work.”
Experts and advisors will tell you that this will work or that won’t, but they haven’t a clue. Only your effort and the market can decide.
If you could give one piece of advice to other start-up founders, what would it be?
Don’t try to do everything yourself. You will only do well the parts you enjoy, so let somebody else do the other stuff. If you don’t enjoy doing the accounts you’ll put it off as long as you can and then do as little as you can get away with. Believe it or not some people get off on that stuff.
Where can people buy your amazing spirits?
If you in the Northumberland/Tyneside area pretty much everywhere sells it. If not check out our new website here
What does the future hold for Northumberland Spirit Co?
We’re aiming for World domination but in the short term a solid national presence will do. We’re also in discussions about export opportunities both in Europe and further afield but we’ll see how that ends up in time.
Can’t wait to try some? You can grab yourself any of their delicious spirits from their online store here.