My name is Kevin Hough. I am 25 years old. I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating, I spent some time in sales and as a field service engineer in the electro-mechanical world. My family and I (parents: Jim and Ellen and brother (27 years old) Robbie) decided to start a family business, making whiskey.
City where you’re from: Pittsburgh, PA Hobbies: Ice hockey, golfing, rock climbing,
Favorite quote: “Think like men of action, And to act like men of thought! Live life with intensity, And a passion for excellence.” -Gen. James Mattis
Facebook: Liberty Pole Spirits
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Kevin Hough: As a family, we wanted to capitalize on the opportunity to do something that was rewarding personally and professionally. Our business, Liberty Pole Spirits, is rooted in the history of the Whiskey Rebellion and the farmers of Western Pennsylvania. Like these farmers, we felt a strong passion about paving our own way.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
Kevin Hough: Aside from my family, who I feel are some of the best team members on the planet and each have such a unique set of skills, there are a few influences in my life. In my former career, I had a mentor who had created a successful business. He inspired me to reach for something I am passionate about. There was a moment while I was working in corporate America, that I decided the entrepreneurial route was much more fulfilling. I was chatting with some older gentlemen who seemed unhappy with the current state of the company. Compensation programs were being decreased and 401ks were being slashed. I listened for 5 minutes or so, when suddenly, like a lightbulb, hit me that I did not want to end up like this. What better way to control your destiny than to do it yourself?
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
Kevin Hough: Currently, we are in the process of growing a craft whiskey business. We operate a 300 gallon still and make a line of 5 award-winning whiskies. We were amateur home-brewers and after studying the trends of craft distilleries, decided that it would be a good time to open.
How is your product/service different and unique? What’s the vision?
Kevin Hough: Our whiskies are unique in flavor and attention to quality. Our flagship product, Peated Bourbon, is a cross between a bourbon and a scotch, and recently won a gold medal at the American Craft Spirits competition, one of only 9 gold medals awarded this year. The vision of our company is to create a whiskey brand associated with quality and excellent flavor. Our goal is to create the best possible experience for every single person to walk through our doors or try our whiskey.
Who are your customers? How do you find them?
Kevin Hough: Our customers range across all age groups. They are typically interested in ‘craft’ beverages and have a passion for quality. We find most of our customers by word of mouth and social media marketing.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
Kevin Hough: Yes, there have been countless roadblocks and hiccups. The best thing you can do when you fail is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep on going. Value-add questions Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have. Staying motivated on difficult days is one of the biggest challenges. Before embarking down the entrepreneurial path, make sure you find your reason for truly wanting to own your business. The Navy Seals describe this as finding your reason to “keep your feet in the sand.” During BUD/S training to become a Seal, you can quit at any time by walking off the beach and ringing a bell. Only those who truly want to be a Seal will have the motivation to keep their feet in the sand. When you have a rock-solid intrinsic desire to be an entrepreneur, you will be able to ‘keep your feet in the sand’ when others would quit!
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Kevin Hough: An entrepreneur should focus on the positive ways your business can make in impact in the world. Avoid getting lost in time-consuming minutia. There are only so many hours in a day!
What are some of your favorite books?
Thank you for letting us feature you on Future Sharks today, Kevin! Best of luck to you with the brewery!