Q 1. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans: Mile Hi Distilling manufactures and resells distilling equipment and supplies. Mile Hi Distilling was started in 2003. We are located in beautiful Wheat Ridge Colorado. The distilling equipment that Mile Hi Distilling manufactures is built from 304 stainless and copper materials all tig welded. High quality stills for commercial distilling and home distilling. Sizes range from 2” diameter towers with 3 gallon boilers up to 8” diameter towers with 200 plus gallon boilers. The stills we build and resell will produce moonshine, whiskey, bourbon, brandy, vodka, schnapps and many other spirits. Our equipment is found in many distilleries producing award winning spirits. Mile Hi also builds essential oil distillers for extracting plant oils and hydrosols. Distilleries and home distillers source supplies at Mile Hi Distilling. We have the largest selection of supplies for distillers. Turbo and distilleries yeast, fermentation vessels, grains, books, essence flavoring, adjuncts, hardware, parts, and much more.
Q 2. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: My name is Mike Warn and I am the owner of Mile Hi Distilling. I started Mile Hi Distilling in 2003 in my garage. Started building test stills for distilleries and home distillers. I was a precision tig welder in a large company located in Boulder Colorado. My job was being outsourced to Mexico so I put my skills to use for on my product line. I developed and designed distilling equipment that I could also build. My products had started a name for themselves being high quality. After only a few years the demand forced me to move to an industrial location to where we could implement more equipment and employees. To this day the quality and service is our highest priority to win our customers.
Q 3. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: I was pretty much forced by my precision welding job that was being outsourced to Mexico. It was a blessing in disguise, sometimes it is funny how that works. Don’t get me wrong I worked my tail off to produce these products and stressful at times without the weekly income that I was used to getting.
I enjoyed vodka martinis and at first I had a goal to build a distiller that could make a perfect vodka. After a several designs and the whole trial and error thing I had it nailed. I would have my friends do blind taste tests up against the top brand vodkas on the liquor store shelf and my end product would win every time. This was the inspiration to move forward. The reward of making something great.
Q 4. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: Be passionate about what you do. Don’t be afraid to put in the hours. It takes long days and short nights to make things happen. Starting a business takes dedication and commitment. Work hard but it is important that you love what you do. The passionate part will make your business great.
Q 5. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: a good idea, the commitment, and the passion
Q 6. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: Not as many hours now because I have built a chain of command sort of speak to relieve me from the day to day work. I have hired a manager that helps keep my sanity. For many years I put in 75 plus hours a week.
Q 7. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: The willing to work hard and take the leap of faith. Me being forced out of my comfortable job made me stronger. At first I was sweating bullets to say the least
Q 8. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: I worked hard on SEO to improve Google organic search results. I did this on my own at first then I hired help. We also went to industry shows and have inside sales people that help close orders.
Q 9. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: My wife and I are very frugal and we paid off our house before I started this business. We have always been good at not spending money. I had some money in my savings and started small in my garage with no overhead.
Q 10. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: Never stop learning and always getting better.
Q 11. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: Tesla is probably the business I admire the most.
Q 12. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: Without good employees whom truly care we would be out of business.
Q 13. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: As long as I know I can get the end goal I don’t give up. If it something I am not sure about then prioritize it differently.
Q 14. What motivates you?
Ans: I enjoy to Kiteboard and working hard allows be to play hard
Q 15. What are your ideals?
Ans: A balanced life of work and play after the initial start of the business
Q 16. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: Read, watch educational material, learn
Q 17. How do you define success?
Ans: I feel I have been fortunate enough to have a successful business since 2003 and I am on my way to my financial and life goals. There has been many bumps in this road but I am still moving forward.
Q 18. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Customer service and word of mouth
Q 19. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: The freedom when I want it and not having to worry about my job being outsourced
Q 20. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: When I reached my sales goals
Q 21. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: You have to have thick skin and guts.
Q 22. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this
Ans: tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Customer service driven and work hard mentality. Without a solid team we can’t and won’t win
Q 24. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q 25. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: I would have started my own business many years before.
Q 26. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: At first it takes time and a ton of effort. My wife and I were understanding with each other and communication is key. Don’t forget there is life work balance
Q 27. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: There a lot of fears in life. I try to think and stay positive.
Q 28. How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: I wanted to be close to my home and in a good area where if I was an employee I would want to work.
Q 29. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: There are many different personalities / people that are entrepreneurs. Most common you must be able to work hard and commit to your business.
Q 30. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans: My father
Q 31. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans: The complete distiller
Q 32. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: Hired an accountant that commited fraud. Iley and associates took a lot of money from my company and I did not see it happening.
Q 33. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: Learn from the mistakes and put process in place to prevent in the future
Q 34. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: Kiteboarding and distilling, Kiteboarding and motorcycle tours
Q 35. What makes you happy?
Ans: Warm weather and kiteboarding, Kiteboarding and spending time with my wife and dog
Q 37. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
You have asked a lot of good questions. You have covered all basis so I don’t know off hand