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If there was anyone with any doubt about where the American dream was still alive or not, then I would send them to go and have a beer (or tequila) with Dano Veal.
Louisiana born, raised in Kansas City, and now a proud Silicon Valley resident his life story cannot be summed in one article.
In 2005, single custodial father of two, Veal was working a full-time job, but he had a number of potential business ideas which he was planning for during his spare time. He wanted to run a business that would allow him to become his own boss, whilst also aiming to turn his creations into reality. He realised that he had the potential to do so much more that his current station allowed.
“Single parenting, no child support, working a regular hourly job was a challenge. Single Fathers aren’t treated the same as single mothers. Example my boss granted schedule changes for mothers at their verbal request, but I had to have my kid’s day-care explain I was a single custodial father in writing and show a copy of my lease. Today my companies have zero discrimination and even grants paternity leave to fathers.” Veal recalls
During that year, Veal started an event planning business called ‘The Slap Event Promotions’. He was still working the same job, but this was a step in the right direction. It was also a step into the unknown. Starting any business venture carries great risks and there is a steep learning curve to get over.
“My first successful event took 9 months to plan and I made $30,000. I came across documents showing the local Denny’s made $80,000 slinging eggs & bacon for each month I planned my event. That’s when I realized I was a pebble compared to corporate giants and I wanted to grow as big as them in my lifetime. None of my peers at the time understood me so I went on my own path” The Entreprenuer recalls
In 2006, the company evolved from event planning to alcohol imports. With a year of experience under his belt, Veal decided that this would be a more profitable line of business to be in. He also made the business more official in that year, changing the company to an LLC which gave it the extra gravitas that it needed in order to keep growing and expanding its clientele.
Elastico Tequila was also born in 2006. This was Veal’s private label tequila and would become a central pillar on which his business would rely upon in the years that followed.
Ever since the business was started, Veal wanted to maintain control of his company and his products. He’s never taken on loans or gifts because he doesn’t want to ever be in debt to someone, or to lose any creative control of the business or its operations. This is something he is extremely proud of, and to which he dedicates a large portion of the success of the company to.
“I experience just about every downfall a person could. My technique is to focus on the solution instead of crying about the problem. The difference between us resilient people and others is that we don’t stop, never give up, and we keep going like time.” He explains
This company was never about being an overnight sensation. Slow and steady growth was the recipe for success here. It takes years to build up a good brand and an image with loyal customers. But you can lose this reputation overnight, so it has always been a focus of Veal to make sure this doesn’t happen. In his own words, he “didn’t want this to be a fly-by-night brand”.
What’s more, one hundred percent of the profits that the company has made have been reinvested back in the company. This is not your typical CEO who will take expensive trips and generally abuse the budget of his company in order to enrich his own lifestyle.
“I don’t have any business partners; I don’t need them. Being self-made does come with a bit of arrogance & need to prove ourselves. If you need partners & loans to be successful, then you’re not ready to carry your company on your shoulders when things get tough. Good business Partners do make things move faster though.” The CEO calmly sips his tea.
Veal is a self-professed typical working man. He hasn’t let the fact that he is the founder and CEO of a successful business change the type of person who he is, or the life that he leads. Rather than taking lavish vacations all over the world, Veal is happy to be hanging out with his family or playing video games during his down time. It hasn’t always been easy, but his resilience and down-to-earth character have been hugely important in ensuring that the company has continued to grow and succeed.
Fast forward to 2018 and a new plan that was years in the making came to life. Veal is now a Master Distiller of Elastico Tequila. In December of last year, Veal executed plans to open several craft distilleries across the US. Now instead of people waiting for Elastico Tequila to come to a store near them, people can go directly to Elastico Tequila and enjoy fresh from the barrel.
“I created a spirit that is virtually odorless, 100-proof, and doesn’t burn on the way down when you drink it. I removed everything that people dislike about tequila and even converted non-tequila drinkers to Elastico Tequila drinkers.” he recalls.
The reasons for this change in the business operations were multi-faceted. For one, Veal wanted more control over the quality of the product. He understood that the quality was what kept customers coming back and when production was overseas this wasn’t something that could be relied upon forever. With this part of the process in-house, the brand’s reputation was in his own hands.
The other reason for this move was that Veal is a pure-blooded patriot. While it wasn’t financially feasible to begin with to have their own distilleries, as the company has grown, he has always wanted to be able to bring these jobs back home to the US. Made in the USA, by Americans, can now be proudly included in the company’s branding.
“Anything that comes easy leaves even easier. My advice is knowing your basic math and be discipline. The difference between a $150 pair of tennis shoes and my pair of $40 Chucks’, is about 9-cases of glass bottles with corks that get flipped into $39 to $79 per bottle. So, the little $110 I saved by not trying to fit in, contributed to $4,200 – $8,500 worth of product. This way of thinking is second nature to me because I’m a hustler.” Said Veal
Launching your own beverage label has its difficulties. It’s a saturated market in the US and there is a lot of competition. How do you break through the crowd and let customers know that your tequila really is the best? It’s a challenge that Veal will continue to tackle in the coming years.
One answer has come in the form of product diversification. In order to ensure the future success of his business, he has launched some additional products so that he is not so heavily concentrated on just the alcohol industry. The new products are Elastico Tequila’s all-natural handmade agave candles and non-alcoholic agave sweetened beverages that are sold online through numerous platforms and have so far been performing well.
When asked about what the short-term future looks like for Elastico Tequila, Veal simply responded: “resilient people always move forward; we’ll take the punches and keep getting up to complete our missions.”
Let’s hope this patriot keeps rolling with the punches.
by Mike Lindsay-Bayley