How Bill Creelman Built Spindrift

How I Built This


In two thousand nineteen the World Health Organization revised its guidelines for sugar intake. SUGAR IT turns out. It's actually worse for us than we thought. Too much can be deadly now. I say this by the way as I finish this delicious sugar cookie. My kids made last night anyway. The new guidelines now suggest adults should not consume more than twenty five grams of added sugar a day. Now think about this for a moment. A single twelve ounce can of Coca Cola has thirty nine grams of added sugar. That is a day and a half of sugar. A can of coke and if you go to the movies and get thirty two ounce cup you will burn through nearly five days if you're sugar allotment before you get to the credits so what to do. Well the obvious answer is drink less sugar which clearly is advice. Lots of people are taking because the last year the sparkling water industry hit an all all time high and sales nearly two and a half billion dollars according to Nielsen. And it's why the beverage out if your local supermarket is now jam packed with with Lacroix and Topa Chico bobbly Poland Springs and Waterloo in several other brands. And it's also big players like Coca Cola Pepsi and Nestle Sleet are all pushing into the sector. One of the fastest growing independent brands and sparkling water is called spin drift and unlike virtually every other bubbly water brand out. There spend drips. Water is as basic as it gets literally just a mixture of sparkling water and fresh squeezed juice which may may not sound all that innovative. But it's actually an incredibly challenging thing to make because fresh squeezed juice does not stay fresh forever and Spitzer's founder founder. Bill crewmen took years to figure out how to make it all work and along the way he struggled to find bottlers and distributors. Who would work with them but the story story of how he was inspired to create spin drift probably begins much much earlier back in his childhood bills? Parents chose to raise the family on a farm in in western Massachusetts. His Dad worked for the sporting goods company spalding. His mom wasn't home with the family and pretty much. All the food they ate was local. The fresh thing I remember most is just all of the food seem to come from our farmer or the farms around us. So you know we had. I just sugarhouse up the street from us. We had you know milked it was delivered with a huge head of cream on the top. You know unbiased tries we would make other from that. Ah I think key learning for me was just a very clear idea of where our food is coming from because it seemed to always be delivered from our neighbors abors or or just off of our own farm You know there was local unavailable and just to be clear. I mean we're talking about like the nineteen thirties or forties. I I believe at the time of this recording. You're forty five years old so this is like the eighties. This is not that long ago it really wasn't and that's what I mean. It was really a choice. And you know. I'm not sure what the message message was. We're supposed to take away from it. I would say my mom. She love this idea of being out in the woods and being on a farm and and surviving and off of nature and she was surrounded by friends felt the same way and we had almost no rules honestly we she had this philosophy. Severe that you know have fun. Do Your own thing in be adventurous. I think she's sort of thought of the farm is our playground are self expression and and I think the thing I remember that the farm land just kind of continued in all directions and farmers to the left and right in around us and even to this stay. This neighborhood and in Western mass is really still the same way it's virtually unchanged today. Do you remember how quiet it was at night. From like December to. Let's say the end of March because I'm imagining there was so much snow. It was absorbing all of the sound at night it was just silent. Maybe a little wind I I remember that really keenly and I actually think of that often because now you know in the suburbs herbs of Boston you that level of silence that type of silence. It was really hard to find. We would keep by firewood for the most part. We had a big woodstove when that fire would burn down nothing there was really no sound left in the house. Save your breathing or the shuffling of you. You know of a sibling was it. An old house would like old wooden floorboards. Yeah it was an old redman just where you imagine a Red Farmhouse Big Red Barn creaking floorboards floorboards for sure. So I guess you knew of someone got up during the night but other than that it was. It was completely silent so So that eventually your family moved off of that farm to the town of deerfield which is also in guessing western Massachusetts and you went to high school there and then to college in Washington. DC at Georgetown. When you when you got to college like when you're eighteen years old did you have any idea? What you you want to do with your life? Now I was kind of out of the sort of grasps of western Massachusetts and I was really starting to for the first time. I What I wanted to do professionally and I should mention that kind of in high school and then as I started college I was starting to work on the fishing boats off the Cape and islands of Cape Cod or or like nantucket? Martha's Vineyard is. Is that right. That's right and you know it was just it was just magical you know you're on abode all day. You're fishing for whatever you could catch. Stripe Pass in Blue Fish And so when I got to Georgetown I really really. I was working in the summers and then going to school during the year and I started to really solidify crystallize. You know what I thought I wanted to do. which was kind of try to figure out you know business? That would be interesting to me so as I was finishing up. Georgetown I took my coast card test. And then eventually I got my captains license right after graduation and Butleigh why you were Georgetown. You met somebody who became presumably became a girlfriend today. Your Wife Life Bray is is right. That's right yeah very lucky. I'm to meet my wife Harley while we are Georgetown and we started dating when we were nineteen uh-huh and so we've been together ever ever since I'm not sure she quite knew what she was getting into way back then but while I was at Georgetown. I took an entrepreneurship class in my senior year. She she got to see me Present my first business plan so I guess she had some sense devoid. She was getting into even in the nineties. And what was your business. Plan that you pitch to the class. It was called nantucket smoke house so the idea was taking smoke fish and striped bass and other things in creating a smoke house out on island we were then offer the products from all over the US turned out to luckily not an idea. We ended up pursuing Tom. But you know the Sivas planted for sure all right so so you you graduate From Georgetown in Nineteen ninety-six. And and what did you do. Where'd you go work? So the first thing I did was go back out to an antiquated and actually continue now with my captain's license in hand continue working on the on the fishing boats. You know I was probably my fifth year and so I went out there with an idea of kind of finishing that summer and then and then ultimately going out to the Pacific northwest to pursue the smoked food world or at least learn more about it and so my wife Harley was living in her girlfriend that time living in Seattle and we piled into her sir VW and drove up the coast and basically just started hitting smoke houses and asking them. You know what the industry was like today. Play kit today. Not like it would they recommend going into it and I'll never I'll never forget finishing a tour and the guy who is leading me on the tour pulled me aside and said I mean do you favor never get into this business fish. It's fire you know. It is a shrinking industry. You know it's nothing we would recommend and was that enough to convince you it was at least enough for me to second guess it and so I am incredibly grateful for that person's advice for sure and the the business idea that ended up kind of coming out of it was company called Nantucket Harvest and untuckit harvest offered smoked food items That were already being produced. Even though it ultimately long-term not terribly successful. It was much better than where we would land right okay. So you're so you decide I'm going to go back to Massachusetts. I'm going to start a business where I basically. What like source food food from nantucket and create like a mail order business? That's right who is mid mid nineties Nantucket at all these really interesting producers serves that had gotten to know some of them over the years What were they making or what? What did they produce? Yes so they had you know it's thirty miles off shore so it kind of has some. I'm really interesting. Unique products only only really only available out there. There was already a a smoke. Bluefish Pate Really Beach Palm Jelly really interesting Zhang Jellies Bay scallops. You know lobsters ice cream so our thesis was will people love these in the summer. I bet they would love to buy him. mm-hmm the other nine months of the year and we wanted to provide them with a solution to do

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