December 20 2012

 Infinite Change

If there is anything certain in this life, it is that change is inevitable.  In life, as in business, change occurs daily, hourly and even sometimes minute-by-minute.  Not only is change inevitable, it is absolutely essential.

Infinite symbol

In business school, they teach classes on change management. Is it possible to truly manage change?  If you can see the horizon and adapt accordingly; then maybe so.  But, what about evolving change?  The moment of evolution in our lives when we look at our surroundings and we are not exactly sure how we got where we are, how we got there, and where are we headed next?

Our lives involve constant change, so there is the idea of infinite change.  Is it, change, adapt, evolve or die? If that is true, then we are constantly managing change. So our lives and our business are a consistent effort to manage the inevitable and perpetual change that occurs naturally.

So, what do we do when we choose to do more than just manage the inevitable and actually enact force to create change? When we use a calculated effort to change our course, do we follow our instinct, our intellect or do we walk by faith?  As an entrepreneur, its actually is all three.  We must follow our instinct and make decisions that are drawn from past experiences and insight.

However, many times, we walk forward not knowing what the outcome will be because we have a belief that what we are doing is right and if it is right, the foundation will be laid before us.  That is faith.  I’m not saying that we should live life with blind faith without any calculations; I just believe that if one is to manage change, create change or respond to change, it takes all three: Instinct, intellect and faith.

As the 21st looms ahead, we are confronted with the notion that the Mayans believe that the world will end.  If it does, then so be it.  If it doesn’t then how do we react to another apocalyptic misstep?  Well, Zig Zigler always said that ‘tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.’  If that is the case, then maybe the 22nd of Dec will be the first day of a new world.  Maybe, we have the opportunity for a clean slate-a new beginning.  If that is not managing change, well, I don’t know what it.  So look ahead, walk forward and embrace the change that your life offers you everyday!  And, Cuestión everything while you’re at it.

– Jason Fandrich, CEO Cuestión Tequila

November 18 2012

The CEO of CuestionI walk forward. What does that mean? Well, from my childhood
on, I always heard to walk by faith and not by sight. What does
that mean? To an entrepreneur, it means to walk forward into
opportunity whether or not you’re fully prepared so that no
opportunity ever goes without notice.

I know, that sounds lofty and possibly elitist, but it’s true. There
are so many clichés out there such as- ‘luck is where opportunity
meets preparedness’ and so on. But, if you find yourself in a
moment where an extra question of another minute of
conversation can lead to opportunity, then it all starts to make a
little sense.

 

For years, I looked above and asked for the right opportunity for me to achieve success. I asked
for an opportunity to use my skills and talents and in by doing so, maybe I could finally start a
career. Well, a career where I would work for someone else for a change. The previous ten years
of my life had been spent opening restaurants, starting a mobile medical testing company and
starting a construction company in Tennessee, developing property, opening another restaurant,
and finishing my first degree in Tampa and spending quite a few hours in my family business’s
warehouse (they always put me in the back) and managing a couple of artists in Nashville.

Well, nothing happens the way you plan, but I am certain everything happens exactly as it should.
And this is the beginning of my story…

In the spring of 2009, I was visiting with my family in South Carolina and was walking into the
Margaritaville when my phone rang. It was the CFO of Margaritaville Spirits and he called to
inform me that the job in which I had previously been guaranteed was now unavailable. However
poetic it was that I received that call at that particular place, the news was no less painful. I had
been preparing a change in career with Margaritaville Spirits on the advice and encouragement of
a great friend and mentor as well as the recommendation from an executive inside the
corporation. It wasn’t until a few years later that I was told that the reason was that the Spirits
company had been sold and the job wasn’t available anymore anyhow. I’m glad I didn’t know
that then, because the string of events that occurred after may have never taken place.

After the phone call, I looked to my mother and said that the job I was promised was no more.
And, in the style that only my mother has, she said I should take a break and accompany her to
Mexico where she had already reserved the time-share, so I cashed in my Sky Miles, got a ticket
and flew to Mexico to vacation with my mom.

As we arrived in Playa de Carmen, I noticed a group of booths being set up on a side street off 5
th Ave. With not much encouragement needed, my mother and I decided to see what was
happening. What we found was a local tequila tasting. I tasted a few different tequilas before
coming to a booth that had a unique looking bottle on it and a happy fellow by the name of Jose
de Jesus Figuroa Dominguez behind the booth. I tasted his tequila about three to four times over
the afternoon and could not get past the fact that I had never tasted a smoother tequila.

I told Jesus that I thought it was the best tequila I’d ever tasted. I then asked him if it was available for
purchase in the US. He told me it wasn’t so I replied simply by asking him if he’d like it to be.
Of course he said yes so I bought a few bottles, exchanged contact information and went to the beach to
begin my vacation. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that there was some reason that I didn’t
get the job, was in Mexico, and tasted that tequila.

I returned to the US a week later with three bottles and a sales sheet that was in Spanish. I called
an acquaintance of mine who is a wine distributor and we met. He sampled the tequila and gave
me advice about the label and the conformity of the bottle and agreed that this may be the best
tasting tequila he had had and he even offered distribution. Excited, of course, I began calling
Jesus and telling him of my successes. Jesus explained his company’s position and the fact that
they would be interested in partnering. I said that I wasn’t sure just yet, but needed to investigate
further.

I called a friend who called a friend who in turn is a lawyer in Birmingham who happened to be
the Executive Director of the Birmingham Angel Network. We agreed to meet and began
discussing this opportunity. He gave me advice on the compliance issue, federal license, etc. I
came back to him with a business plan, all the paperwork and an increased knowledge about the
business. We agreed to work together.

In the course of working up the plan and I met the former CFO of CAO Cigars (via his wife) and
he agreed to come on board in the same capacity. I then reached out to my friend Pinky Gonzales,
who was the former owner of Nashville’s Echo Music, Belmont University instructor and
marketing guru. We worked together to build a more comprehensive plan and then I presented
that back to my attorney. It was then that I needed to gain my knowledge about the tequila, why
it is what it is and what make it different. So, I booked my flight and flew to Guadalajara, MX.
There I spent countless hours discussing everything about tequila.

Jason with an agave plant

I met with the CRT (Regulatory Commission of Tequila),
a few jimadors (farmers who grow and harvestagave)
the master distiller, my future partners as well as
a host of other people. We worked on plansto gain
control over all our agave fields and instituted
quality controlmechanisms with bottle production
and barrel aging. All in all, I spent about a month
leaningeverything I could in the distillery, the
agave fields and in the market. I also came back to
the US with a partnership in the brand and the Sole
Importer rights to distribute CuestionTequila
domestically and abroad.

This is ultimately how Cuestión Tequila landed in the U.S. first hitting the shelves in Nashville
TN in February 2011. We built a business, relationships and a plan to bring the world Cuestion.
Cuestion Tequila is an Ultra Premium Tequila grown, distilled, aged and bottled in the Highland s
of Jalisco, MX. In 2011 alone, we won 20 awards including Best of the Best- Best Highlands
Tequila of 2011 from Tequila.net, Triple Gold Medals from MicroLiquor Awards, Gold Medals,
Exceptional Ratings and Ratings of 92pts.-Blanco, 93pts.-Reposado and 94pts.- Anejo by the
Beverage Tasting Institute (BTI), Gold and Bronze Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits
Competition, Silver at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition and Gold medal at
theFiftyBest.com.

We feel great about our accomplishments and look for many more in 2012. I
will spend most my efforts this year in gaining more distribution. Currently, we are available in
Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Chicago now and will be available in Texas soon.
We hope to grow throughout the Eastern US by years end and possibly even a few countries.

The name Cuestión comes creator Jesus Dominguez who, when starting to make the tequila, he
cuestion’ed everything about the process, and the name just stuck. The bottles, upside down
question marks just certainly go with the theme, and they certainly stick out from the crowd.

Bottle of blanco, reposado, and anejo

 

We have three expressions of Cuestion; Blanco,
which is not aged, Reposado is aged for six and
a half months in barrels and Anejo, that is aged
18 months in barrels. Hopefully, we will have an
Extra Anejo by summer. It will be aged for four
and a half years in barrels.

 

While Cuestión Tequila is distilled and bottled in Mexico, we try and grow some roots here in
Tennessee. Our headquarters are in Nashville and we age our tequila in once used American Oak
barrels that have been used once in Lynchburg, TN to age Jack Daniels. Heck, I grew up only 15
minutes from Lynchburg, so I could think of a better option for aging our tequila.

We are lucky to have had such a warm reception into the market place. While we are a small
company with a great brand, we battle the billon dollar giants everyday. But, we’ve got great
distributors that give us as much attention as they give the big guys. So, I think Cuestion Tequila
will continue to be a strong competitor on the shelf and we will push for nationwide distribution.
However, it just may take us a little longer to get there.

In between meeting and travel, I sometimes think as to how I got here. I had set on a change in
career but thought that I would be working inside a company on a brand, but the world had
different plans and I am much more suited to be where I am. I assured my partners and investors
that I would seek every opportunity; I would walk through every open door. I will not look back,
other than to learn. I will walk forward and that is how Cuestion will be built.

Albert Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important
thing is not to stop questioning. ” I would add to that by saying to always walk forward.

– Jason Fandrich CEO Cuestión tequila

Cuestión Tequila Logo

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