Success Story: Remarkable Liquids
Remarkable Liquids Pours Persistence, Quality, and a Strong Sense of Self into its Business
“I discovered I was bored sick with the traditional corporate/cubicle life… it wasn’t in my nature to blindly follow.” – Spencer Noakes, co-founder, Remarkable Liquids
Many entrepreneurs and aspiring small business owners echo these thoughts iterated by Spencer Noakes, co-founder of craft-distribution and importing company Remarkable Liquids, based out of Altamont, NY.
Before he started this business, Spencer obtained his master’s degree in taxation and worked in the field for five years. He came to the conclusion that he needed a change in his work life and decided to channel his passion of craft beers into one of the earliest craft-only beer distribution companies, Premier Beverage, which he co-founded in 1999. The company grew quickly and was ultimately sold to the largest craft beer distribution company in the country. Spencer became the NYS Craft Sales Director for them and led their territory expansion into 42 new counties. Over the span of six years, Spencer’s role evolved away from creating and nurturing sincere partnerships with producers of the highest quality liquids and he decided to return to his entrepreneurial roots, leading to the genesis of Remarkable Liquids.
Growing Fast but Keeping Values in Tact
Remarkable Liquids currently has 42 suppliers and represents over 60 brands worldwide. In 2014, the company distributed 100,000 case equivalents of beer. Just three years later in 2017, the number grew to nearly 400,000 and Remarkable Liquids experienced 695.21% growth in that year. Despite how quickly the business is growing, quality has never wavered in Spencer’s approach, making his company even more attractive to world-class suppliers.
Evolution has become firmly embedded into the culture of Remarkable Liquids after such extreme expansion in a relatively short period of time. A lot of this change is seen in the workforce, as the business started with four employees and is expected to reach 100 by the end of the year. Their current space is also ten times the size of the 5,000 square foot warehouse in which they started, and Remarkable Liquids has upgraded delivery vehicles and its inventory and operations tracking system.
Seeing how far his company has come has been a motivator for Spencer and Remarkable Liquids. Building success on a larger scale has resulted in the company becoming a top distribution option for brands that are seeking to enter the New York or New Jersey markets. It’s also helped them achieve a ranking on the Inc. 5000 lists of the fastest growing companies in the U.S for the past three years.
Quality in Both Product and Team
Spencer and his business partner Matt Hartman were driven by a personal philosophy that ultimately became the foundation of the company and remains so today: “The item that became the non-negotiable tenant of Remarkable Liquids is that we would represent only those brands that we felt were truly world-class, that could be sold solely on the quality of the liquid in the bottle, can, or keg.”
While Remarkable Liquids has continuous goals for growth and profitability, one of Spencer’s main priorities is properly compensating his dedicated employees. Despite many unknowns and uncontrollables in the early years of a small business, Spencer believes that one thing you can control is who you are surrounded by.
“We committed to sharing these 18 hour days with people we enjoyed being around, to people that understood and shared our vision and were looking for more than a job,” he said. Spencer’s team has grown to 80 members and he makes it a priority to show his appreciation of their dedication. Remarkable Liquids has introduced a 401K pension plan this year for the first time, and will also increase its medical, dental, and vision contributions for the third year in a row. “It’s really become paramount for us to give back to all of the people who have contributed blood, sweat, and tears to our success,” Spencer said.
Taking Advantage of Opportunities
As a craft-distribution and importing company, Remarkable Liquids has a large amount of overhead. They eventually reached a point where they would have to forgo some attractive opportunities without an infusion of cash, but wanted to maintain their equity in the company.
Despite their early success, getting a small business loan became a challenge. Spencer’s accounting firm, UHY Advisors, referred him to Kevin Harrigan of Capital Bank. Recognizing the potential fit for an NYBDC loan, Harrigan teamed up with Steve Willard, a senior loan officer at NYBDC, to bring the loan to fruition. “They arrived with an attitude that they were going to get it done for us, and never gave us any reason to doubt it,” said Spencer. “We would not have made the Inc. 5000 list the last three years without their help.”
We look forward to seeing Spencer's continued success with Remarkable Liquids as they grow and expand their operations.