Creative ways to reach your goal.
Not only applying the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” methodology but see where else you can apply a proven process.
The best businesses know that adaptability is vital. If COVID-19 taught the restaurant industry anything, it’s that altering the approach – such as changing how food is served, where it’s served, and even what was on the menu – can be the key component to growth.
For Mark Ray at Stowe Cider in Vermont, adaptability doesn’t necessarily mean altering the approach but instead using the same process to solve a different problem. Mark’s take on change is less mainstream and a method that others might call resourcefulness.
It started with their flagship product, a hard cider, initially produced in 2013.
“We adapted a winemakers approach to making cider,” Mark said. “We use full cold fermentation and a blend of natural sugars and apples to make a base cider that’s unique to anybody in this area.”
Ray has taken that same style and applied it to his new spiked seltzer line. The cold fermentation process is also used here, which is a twist on conventional methods. Most spiked seltzers use a brewing method that involves heating and cooking the ingredients, sort of like how beer is made.
Remarkably, Stowe Cider is also applying this successful approach to a new line of hard teas that’s about to hit retail shelves.
“I guess the lesson we learned is if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Mark says. “If I was to give one piece of business advice, it would be to see if you’re able to grow and diversify your portfolio using the processes you’re used to. Stick to what you know.”
One thing Mark also knows and sticks to is looking to North Star Leasing to fund the critical equipment needed to grow his business. Like Stowe Cider, North Star Leasing can take fresh, creative approaches and offer financing solutions in ways some people might not think possible. Since 2019, North Star Leasing has worked with Stowe to finance: a can carrier, a labeling machine, and a chilled water piping system at the facility in Vermont’s quintessential ski town. And they’re not done yet.
“North Star Leasing has been a huge partner for us,” said Mark, “they’ve helped us in finding financing to expand our production capabilities. They also get what we’re doing and are willing to go to bat for us with decision-makers.”
Ray’s unique problem-solving tactics never cease to impress North Star Leasing’s Kit Antinozzi, who has worked with Stowe Cider to provide the funding that fueled their growth. “What he’s done as a businessperson has meant taking a lot of calculated risks,” said Antinozzi. “When we started working with Mark, cider wasn’t big a thing, and he had to adapt his equipment to make it all work. He’s been an active participant in the growth of the brewing and distilling industry that has really put Vermont on the map.”
In many ways, North Star Leasing’s approach mirrors Stowe Cider’s, which is one of the reasons we’re highlighting Stowe Cider as a “North Star All-Star.”
“There are multiple ways to get to the same goal,” said Ray. “That applies to our business, but plenty of others, too.”