For immediate release
August 16, 2013
Former business student distils lessons learned at KPU
Metro Vancouver, BC – Mason Kealy is a man of many hats: An entrepreneur, a husband, a father of four, a small business manager with Scotiabank.
He also happens to moonlight as a moonshine maker, and it’s more than just a hobby: Kealy’s quest to craft the finest distilled vodka has led to the creation of a company that’s breaking ground in an industry normally monopolized by big name brands.
After graduating from KPU’s Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurial Leadership program in 2004, Kealy started a computer technology business. While he ran it successfully for several years, it wasn’t quite his passion. So he took a job that was more in line with his interests – helping small business owners through Scotiabank.
Even then, while he enjoys his job, he soon discovered that the work he was truly passionate about was the work he was doing outside the hours of 9-5 – distillation (“legally, of course,” he adds).
“After many years of experimentation, and friends and family saying, ‘There’s Mason making his moonshine again,’ it got me thinking that if I saw a bottle of moonshine in the liquor store, I would buy it just to see what it tasted like,” Kealy explains.
Experimentation, trademarking, deal brokering and a lot of distilling later, the Abbotsford-based Kealy Beverage Company Inc. incorporated in 2010, and launched Kealy’s Moonshine – an ultra-premium mixing vodka that blends immaculately with any drink – earlier this spring.
Sales started in June, and the product is already carried in 40 stores from Vancouver to Prince George. One hundred cases were sold in BC during the first two months on the market, and 200 cases have been shipped for sale in Alberta through Liquor Depot.
“Every small win is a success for our family,” says Kealy, president and founder of the company. “It takes a lot of money to research, develop, test and bring to market an alcohol beverage product in North America. It can be challenging.”
But Kealy and his family don’t let challenges or odds limit his dream: With a diamond dust-distilled product, and established partners in France and China, he has his sights set high with a company goal to provide the best mixing vodka in the world. His product already costs less than other premium vodkas, too.
“Get more; pay less. That’s what they taught us sells in business sales classes on the Surrey campus. We created a niche with our perfectly blending vodka. Drinking should be fun and drinks should taste great, not yucky,” he says. “The best thing I learned at Kwantlen in the Business BBA program was probably how to work effectively in groups. Group work and managing the distinct skills and differences of individuals in that group is very important for the business world and also probably one of the hardest to teach. You have to experience it and develop it: Great lessons."
It wasn’t just the lessons he learned at KPU that have helped him succeed: Kealy cites business instructors Kim Richter and Donald Reddick as major influences, always encouraging and supportive.
“As one of Mason's business professors, I was always very impressed by his enthusiasm, teamwork, and strong entrepreneurial spirit which he demonstrated in every class,” says Richter. “This is such a wonderful achievement.”
Within the next five years, Kealy hopes to expand his family business across the country and from there, move into new markets: “I’d like to maybe get onto Dragon’s Den when we’re ready to move into the US market, but we have to get our sales up first: We don’t want Kevin [O’Leary] calling us a ‘cockroach,’” he jokes.
The next step for Kealy Beverage Company is to continue to grow the brand in BC and Alberta. On November 14, Kealy’s Moonshine plans to have an “awesome” launch party at the Fan Club in Vancouver.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region for 30 years, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, apprenticeships, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 18,000 students annually have a choice from over 200 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations. Learn more at www.kpu.ca.
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