Nurturing An Evergreen Business And An Evergreen Family
Carrie Van Winkle Greener, Pappy & Co.
February 27, 2017
Most days, I work in my office in downtown Ketchum, Idaho. It’s quiet and has plenty of room for me to spread out merchandise samples that I’m considering for my Pappy & Company website. But today, my son’s sitter called in sick, so I am handling a few calls from home and tending to his 2-year-old needs.
And I’m not panicking about it. Work-life balance is one of my greatest joys as an Evergreen owner. I work less in the summer months to enjoy vacations with my family, and then I pick up the pace during the school year and the crazy holiday season. As the kids get older and gain their independence, I will put my additional free time into my work.
But Pappy & Co. is not a lifestyle business. It’s something that will keep growing. We’ve doubled our revenue every year since my two sisters and I launched this company three years ago. We’re adding new product lines every month. I am determined to make our merchandise as high-quality, popular and profitable as my family’s famous bourbon.
I’m building a 100-year company just like my ancestors did. Long-term growth is in my blood. My great-grandfather, Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, started a distillery in 1910 and named one of his pre-prohibition whiskeys Old Rip Van Winkle. Years later, my grandfather took over the company, and sold the distillery and every brand except for one: Old Rip Van Winkle.” Our bourbon has been recognized as one of the most popular in the world.
We didn’t get here through fancy or expensive marketing. We’ve been successful because our Paced Growth meant that customers could discover our bourbon, share it with their friends and become our best ambassadors. Without outside investors, we’ve been able to grow organically and not try to force the business into someone else’s idea of growth.
That is truly the Evergreen spirit — which we’re also embracing at Pappy & Co. We started as a merchandise company for a famous bourbon brand, but our company is really a natural extension of our family. We sell barware that reminds us of our grandfather, maple syrup that our children spoon up at breakfast and hot sauce our husbands are obsessed with. We plan to add a men’s clothing line inspired by Pappy, leather and canvas goods and a female-centric corner to our home items section. Our long-term goal is to extend our lifestyle brand beyond our core bourbon fans.
I am doing all this with a strong appreciation for the Evergreen principle of Paced Growth. Striking a work-life balance is honestly hard work itself sometimes. Every morning, I make sure I have a list of big things that need to get done. But I don’t beat myself up if one item goes unchecked. Since my days are often divided between the job and family, I tend to eat lunch at my desk and work straight through the busiest part of the day. I include my family, even my children, in as much of the business as possible. They see me hauling boxes, they help me sort the samples, and they test out the products.
I’m raising my Evergreen company the same way I’m raising my kids — both with strength and values. Pappy & Co. will be a part of our lives forever and will be a business I hope my children will continue to value and feel proud of. That’s something worth nurturing.
Carrie Van Winkle Greener is the CEO of Pappy & Company.