The Beverage Industry Navigators

Written by Jen Hocken

The world of beverages can be a complex and confusing one. From product development to production, sourcing to logistics, the question of how to turn ideas into reality is one fraught with challenges. Yet the rewards – seeing a successful product come to fruition and reach an audience of satisfied consumers – can be well worth it. The team at BevSource makes it their mission to help clients reach that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
Providing beverage development, production, sourcing and logistics solutions for new and established beverage visionaries alike, BevSource provides a full spectrum of services to develop and produce client beverage ideas from concept to finished product. The company serves as a critical resource for beverage developers, helping them to navigate the complexities of the industry. With BevSource’s guidance, even the boldest of beverage ideas can be taken from recipe to finished product.

Since its inception in 2002, BevSource has built a keen understanding of all facets of the beverage industry. The team can get involved at any point of the beverage development journey, from the early stages of feasibility to services such as commercial formulation, regulatory compliance, production management, order management, procurement of raw materials, and logistics.

Certainly, many mid-sized companies are capable of running a supply chain operation on their own, but there are always problems that arise, and business owners must decide if it is worth the time and resources to do it alone. “One of the main drivers of using BevSource from a benefit standpoint is the client’s time – the ability for them to reallocate their valuable time towards building their brands,” says BevSource Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dan Macri.

Partnering with BevSource provides consistent support, and rather than having one person dedicated to running the supply chain, it offers an entire team of people with significant experience. Its people have helped to develop thousands of products, assisted entrepreneurs in getting their ideas off the ground, and dealt with a variety of industry pitfalls such as leaking cans, rusty crowns, product recalls, or mold issues. The company brings a breadth of experience and industry knowledge to the table that would be impossible to find in a single individual.

As a result, “clients can do other things with their time and focus on driving those brands and building sales when we have expert industry navigators here ready at the helm. Yes, it is an outsourced solution, but it could provide results in a more economically viable fashion with our vast experience,” says Dan. Whether clients need help in one specific area or are looking to outsource their entire operation, BevSource can deliver the right mix of services and expertise to make their ideas a reality.

Three things set BevSource apart from other beverage consulting firms: its people; its ability to grow with brands; and its specialization in beverage operations. The company hires passionate and dedicated people who can deliver great results and help their clients grow, and seeks the same level of passion from its network of industry partners such as raw material providers, flavor houses, packaging suppliers and contract manufacturers. Ongoing investment in training and development keeps employees engaged and up to date on the latest innovations in the industry, and empowers them to build deep skill sets to better serve clients.

The second point of difference is BevSource’s ability to take a client’s idea from concept to reality and help develop a brand fully, growing alongside them. Rather than just getting a client through their first production, BevSoource can continue to manage their supply chain operations and help them find efficiencies as their brand and business grows. “We have the ability to carry clients from concept right to the end results,” says Dan. “We’re like a Sherpa guiding you up a mountain; we will help you navigate this industry, and help deliver results. We are the beverage industry navigators.”

The third differentiating factor is the company’s core concentration. The BevSource team concentrates on operations and the supply chain, an emphasis that ensures the team is consistently delivering quality results that are undiluted by other services.

These distinguishing aspects grew out of the founders’ original vision for the company. BevSource got its start as Production Services International (PSI) in 2002, operating out of a basement. Originally, the company’s foundation was in the alcoholic beverage sector; owner and CEO Janet Johanson got her start at the Minnesota Brewing Company, then the seventh largest brewery in the country. Today, BevSource works across all alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage categories, from coffees and teas to kombucha to flavored malt beverages to energy and recovery drinks.

Over the past 15+ years, the company has grown to over 45 employees, including more than 20 beverage operations specialists. All employees are encouraged to embody BevSource’s core values, and the leadership plans numerous team building activities and events to support its work hard, play hard mentality. “Our people spend most of their day here, and become good friends with their coworkers, so I want to make sure that BevSource creates a fun environment where we get work done,” says Janet.

To this end, Janet has implemented initiatives to enhance the health and happiness of her employees, creating a unique workplace culture. The team regularly goes on walking meetings, utilizes stand-up and treadmill desks, and can use fitness balls as alternatives to chairs. The company offers flexible options in the workplace and truly looks out for employee health and wellness.

With such a positive and supportive workplace culture, it’s no wonder that BevSource has seen yearly growth in various areas of the organization. The company has increased its client portfolio, diversified the beverage categories it supports, and broadened the services it offers. “As the categories in the beverage arena have evolved, so have we,” explains Dan. “We’ve done work to be innovative and ahead of the curve.”

Indeed, the BevSource team pride themselves on keeping up to date with the latest inventions and most sustainable products in the market. The company supports its clients in choosing BPA-free packaging and organic ingredients in their formulations, and has built relationships with manufacturers and vendors that offer sustainable products so it can assist its clients down the path of environmental consideration.

Another area of innovation is in CBD (cannabidiol)-infused products and beverages. CBD is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid that has been shown to offer a range of health benefits including decreased muscle and joint pain, stress relief, improved sleep, reduced anxiety, nausea relief, and reduced inflammation. These types of products are in fact skyrocketing in popularity due to changing laws and regulations throughout North America, and BevSource is currently engaged in a number of projects helping entrepreneurs explore this emerging category.

Another way BevSource is staying innovative is with the opening of a new pilot facility and tasting room called The Lab. Located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, this seven-barrel system will allow beverage visionaries to experiment with different ingredients and flavors to create new products. The consumer-facing tasting room will serve as “an adventurous tasting hub for consumers to sip and sample a variety of new and exclusive beverages before they are available in the market.” As Janet explains, “We’ll have a small-scale production lab for beverage brand owners to test new beverage ideas or create prototypes, and then we’ll have a tasting lab where the public can come taste the new innovations that are coming to the market. Consumers enjoy being a part of the process and influencing the future of the beverage industry, and we are excited to include them.”

In addition to the pilot facility and tasting room, The Lab will also feature a state-of-the-art laboratory for quality assurance testing. It is often prohibitively expensive for many small craft brewers to build their own on-site laboratory, so rather than spending approximately $250,000 on equipment and hiring a lab technician, breweries can now partner with BevSource for all of their quality testing.

BevSource has also been building a global presence. A little over a year ago, BevSource acquired a company called MyDrink Beverages, originally based in Lithuania, which offers similar services to the global market. The acquisition has widened BevSource’s reach to beverage visionaries and brands around the world. “With that international presence, we get to see what new beverages are coming in [from] different parts of the world and then make global connections for all of our clients,” says Janet.

Alongside this continuing growth has come recognition from the industry and the broader business community. BevSource has been honored with many awards over the years, yet the team is most proud of the awards that aren’t necessarily beverage-specific. “Most of my free time I spend volunteering for Junior Achievements, which is an organization that teaches financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, and the most gratifying awards that I have are their Bronze and Silver Leadership Award,” says Janet. Giving back to the community and teaching children about financial literacy are areas of particular interest for Janet, who was also awarded the Women in Business Award from the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal in 2018.

The company’s original beverage work was in the alcohol and flavored malt beverage sector, but it has adapted and developed a foundation that can support beverages in almost any category. Its ability to navigate the waters of the beverage industry set it apart in its field, and its new pilot facility and tasting room gives BevSource the exciting opportunity to be even more involved in the creation of new products and new beverage categories, which is sure to mean further growth for the company and its clients in the future.

“As we go into the years ahead, we will continue to provide the high level of service and support that our clients have grown to expect of us. We’ll keep expanding our network, continue growing with our clients, and remain innovative and nimble,” says Dan – “everything a good navigator should be.”



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