Timothy Pappin and Ryan Mijal didn’t realize it at the time, but when the two of them went out for a drink on Christmas Eve two years ago, a business would eventually be formed.
Pappin, who is Mijal’s uncle, said Mijal had never had an old-fashioned before, so they each ordered one. Mijal liked the taste and the next day they began wondering if a company was currently making a premixed old-fashioned drink.
“To make an old-fashioned you have several ingredients that you have to combine in the right recipe in order for it to taste good,” Pappin said. “We said, ‘Somebody has got to be doing that (making a premixed old-fashioned drink).’ We couldn’t find anyone doing it, so we said, ‘Well, let’s see if we can do it.’ And two years later here we are doing it.”
Pappin and Mijal decided to go into business together, forming Arty’s, with Pappin the president-CEO and Mijal the vice president. The plan was to distribute two premixed old-fashioned drinks – Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweet and Whiskey Old-Fashioned Sour. The drinks are bottled in seven ounce servings.
Pappin said it took around 18 months to get all of the licenses, permits and approvals needed for them to start distributing their premixed old-fashioned drinks.
“We didn’t have anybody to guide us so it was all self-taught,” Pappin said. “We kind of took that venture on our own and learned as we went. It might have gone a little slow because of that.”
They couldn’t manufacture or distribute their product during these 18 months, but Pappin said they did a lot of market research during that time.
“We spent a lot of time self-educating ourselves on how this was going to work, not only the idea of doing it, but how do we take it from concept to a finished product and getting it in consumers’ hands,” Pappin said.
After doing their research, they found that to get their product into the hands of consumers they needed to go through a distributor, who then sells the product to retailers who sell it to consumers.
“This product is one of a kind. This is very Wisconsin,” Pappin said. “If you’ve been outside of Wisconsin and tried to order an old-fashioned you usually get a Manhattan [cocktail] or a variation of it. We met with some liquor distributors and talked to them about it and they didn’t seem to fit what we were looking for. We were looking for more of a distribution model for beer distributors. They cover more area.”
They met with Lee Beverage in Oshkosh and Triangle Distributing in Green Bay who each ordered a pallet of 72 cases of each drink.
“Within a week they were reordering it. I’m guessing it’s at 40 to 60 locations right now,” Pappin said.
Arty’s officially began selling to distributors the first week of July, and Pappin said it currently has back orders that need to be filled.
“We’re elated and we’re nervous,” Pappin said. “When you enter a business like this a lot of it is a roll of the dice as to how much do we need, how much do we think we’re going to sell and we line everything up to be there. I figured we’d be at where we are now, six months from now. We’re six months ahead. Our first month has been astronomical. We had no idea it was going to be like this.”
Neither one has other employment anymore as they are working fulltime to make Arty’s successful.
“We’re all in on this. True entrepreneurs are risk takers,” Pappin said.
The early success was a pleasant surprise, but it is also causing them to already explore expanding the business, which currently employs two other employees besides Pappin and Mijal. Mijal said they can currently produce 72 cases per day, and can do 100 cases a day if needed.
“We are willing to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Pappin said.
The business is currently located in the Cloverleaf Lakes area with a Clintonville address. Pappin said they are looking at two or three different properties in Clintonville for their business expansion. He also said if things keep going the way they are, he anticipates hiring more employees by the end of the year.
“We’re in this location intentionally, meaning Clintonville. I’m from Clintonville, but I’ve lived across the country over the course of my life before coming back to Wisconsin,” Pappin said. “The idea to build something for Clintonville is important to us as well. Our intention is to stay here (Clintonville) and to make this place a really great place to work and to employ local people.”