May 17, 2020
In this episode, I interview Darren Lange, the founder and managing director of the Tasmanian Cask Co., one of the leading suppliers of casks to the Australian whisky industry. His entrepreneurial journey started in 2010 after 20 years in the wine industry and aged 41. He decided to go out on his own and form a company called Master Cask, which was on-selling casks coopered overseas solely to the wine industry in Australia. A cooperage manufactures the wooden casks or barrels that wines or spirits are aged in. A 3000+ year craft, it is still a very manual process to date.
Starting out with one full-time employee, his mum soon joined him to help with the business administration and now his three businesses have a team of around 30, with just over 20 of those being expert coopers. In 2014, he formed the Tasmania Cask Company and a few years later acquired a customary competitor in South Australia now named Australian Coopers. He got money to fund his business from the 3Fs (Friends, Family, and Fools) until an investor bought into the business in 2015. That investment helped propel sales from 80 casks in 2012 to more than 20,000 in 2019, with 90% of those sold in the spirits industry.
Darren admits that excellent communication, a kick-ass team, and an investment in R&D and innovation are at the heart of managing the three businesses’ success. He believes the hardest thing in growing a small business is cashing in on people, and the advice he would give himself on day one is, “Not to be hard on yourself. Take the time to celebrate the wins and celebrate them with the people around you. Remember when starting out, the bigger opportunity, the harder it will be.”
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Music from https://filmmusic.io "Cold Funk" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/