One of the joys of this job is working with people. I have had the opportunity to spend time with different types of people who make different types of drink, from the Devon farmer making cider, the craft brewery with a lot following, to the guys making amazing soft drinks from a London railway arch. These people all have one thing in common. It may sound like a cliche, but they are all supremely passionate about the product they make, and whether they want to make something which is innovative or traditional, they all want a product with integrity, and of the highest quality.
I work with people all around the world, who may be starting up, wanting to increase production, or want to introduce a new product or packaging format. It's always in my mind that these people are starting or expanding their business, and whatever we do means a huge amount to my clients. It's important to me that I can be a partner for them, and be there whenever needed, to provide support. From my point of view, things have changed, and I am now the person who had started up, and I have been very fortunate to have support from many people; family, friends, advisors, suppliers and my accountant!
Amongst many things, I have recently been doing some consultancy work with drinks producers from other parts of the world. I am working with cider makers, breweries, distilleries and soft drinks makers in Africa, Asia and the USA. I've recently had the pleasure of spending a few days with some clients from Africa, who are planning their own cider business. They came to me to get some advice on the equipment they need to not just start up, but grow their production as the business progresses. They chose to visit the UK, partly to discuss their requirements with me, but also to visit cider makers of different scales, to learn about their processes, and just to sit down and chat about what's going on in the industry. Before long, the cider came out, tastings were enjoyed, and advice was freely given. Something I admire about the drinks industry at the 'craft', level is the spirit of openness and collaboration. It is natural to think that human nature suggests that we should close the door to 'competition', but these people open their doors, welcome the opportunity to share information, advice, even equipment and ingredients, and just look after each other. As I wished my clients a safe journey home, we all knew that they had learnt a huge amount due to this spirit of openness. It's a big part of what makes the craft drinks industry a joy to work in, and I am looking forward to working with anybody who wants to join in. They are in for a lot of fun.