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Drinkin' Buds with Co-Founder, Matt Swanson, feature #94 of Together Talks

"Together Talks" feature #94: Drinkin' Buds presented by KLS, freight company

Some Background on Drinkin' Buds

Today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the opportunity to interview Drinkin' Buds and Co-Founder, Matt Swanson. Drinkin’ Buds is on a mission to bring THC Cocktails to your favorite bar, liquor store, festival and tailgate!! They want to re-invent what a non-alcoholic drink is. Their classical cocktail flavor and quick onset you can skip the hangover, not the fun!

Two Wisconsin guys had a dream to grow some great hemp. They didn’t set out to be Drinkin' Buds, that’s just what destiny had in mind. When the cannabinoid commodities market forced Justin and Matt to come up with a use for their hemp, opportunity was born. They couldn’t just do what everyone else had been doing, they needed something special. They needed special products as well as a special brand. Over cold beers on a hot summer afternoon tending to their rapidly growing crop, it hit them.


They would make CBD cannabis beverages. They were Drinkin’ Buds.


Now they have continued to evolve on their path, but still have one goal in mind: to create the most exciting, delicious, high quality, hemp derived beverages on the market today.

Starts with an acre

2018 was the beginning of Matt and Justin Hopf's foray into starting a business together. This was the year that Wisconsin passed a farm bill allowing hemp to be produced and sold. The duo watched from the outside for that year to get a feel and understanding of the new industry. Both came from corporate agriculture and in 2019 they purchased and grew hemp on an acre of land.

Their initial intention was to sell something in the commodity stream. CBD crude was the only salvageable option, but Matt shared it would have cost them money to produce it versus what they could sell it for. Both agreed it was more profitable to sit on the crop until they found a better way forward. One day after hand cropping the plot of land they relaxed with a beer. One of them made a joke saying, "Hey look at us, we are drinkin' buds."

With that, their name was born. But they still needed to find their product.

Matt explained that old-fashioned is a popular drink in the state of Wisconsin. They found a way to bring CDB to a dry powder mixed with the bitters to create a replica of an old-fashioned. The product was well received, but Matt said it required a lot of in-person education to convert a sale. Farmer's Markets were a great platform, but getting into retail was going to be much more challenging. Again both agreed, this wasn't the path forward. They considered jumping right into the RTD (Ready to drink) market. They recreated their very popular margarita dry mix flavor in their first RTD formulation. They also shifted the formula to include 5 MG of Hemp derived delta 9 THC, launching in June 2023. In total, the company has 3 SKUS, with a fourth on the way this spring/summer

Challenges and education

Operating in the hemp industry means understanding state's legislation. Matt said that is a hurdle they must overcome as they work on expansion. He also mentioned that misinformation from big cannabis can be a distractor as new companies emerge in this aggressive space. With so many companies entering the non-alc and rtd space, it means consumers can not fully understand what they are consuming. Matt believes that the more that companies enter the space instead of letting large conglomerates dominate the space, the better it will be for consumers in the end.

When asking Matt about the strengths of their company, he circled back to their story. He equated it to The American Dream. Two men who had an idea and are bootstrapping their efforts to build an innovative company to serve millions of consumers. He also mentioned how it was important for them to put an extreme focus on not only taste, but quality as well. When seltzers had all the momentum, everyone started flooding the markets because they can be easily made, whereas their products take time to get it just right, but in the end he believes it is worth it.

The consumer buy in initially was challenging as we already touched on. Even when they pivoted to RTD, there is still the misconception of cbd and thc that Drinkin' Buds has to try and continue to provide the correct and educational facts to consumers. They still have an uphill battle dealing with the stigma behind products in this space, but it is part of who they are. Drinkin' Buds will continue to remain transparent in who they are, what they stand for, and what they hope to give. Matt further explained, "There is nothing about our product to be ashamed of".

Partner with KLS
KLS offers LTL and FTL for both dry and reefer transportation.
Our nationwide coverage provides companies a reliable, consistent, and dependable logistics partner to handle your trucking needs.
For more information on how we can help call our office today 708-980-0920 or reach us via our email quote request here!
Big growth

Interestingly when starting the company, the Co-Founders considered entering the RTD space was a pie in the sky type of goal. While producing the dry mixes, they dreamed of the day they could get into this uber competitive, but growing market. When they decided to pivot it was a huge challenge, but one they ultimately succeeded with. Matt told us they recently partnered with a distributor and finding success with this lofty goal felt incredibly good for the duo.

While they were incredibly proud of that accomplishment, Matt admitted he could do a better job of celebrating the victories as they occur. Their equity partners at their annual meeting last year brought up the importance of acknowledging the milestones. Matt and Justin admitted something has been missing and plan to start to implement new procedures to embrace the growth and success of their company. The Co-Founders anticipate that the next tier of growth is national distribution. They are excited to see how they can scale the brand. In addition to more expansion of brand and accessibility, and hopefully products as well. Matt shared they hope to introduce a 4th flavor to their product line in 2024.

Commitment to building

The aspect Matt enjoys most about being part of Drinkin' Buds is the uniqueness and constant change that accompanies the daily tasks of running a business. Being a Co-Founder in a smaller company includes wearing many hats. Matt enjoys the new roles required to keep the company operating smoothly. But as he mentioned, always looking forward, he is eager to focus on finding talent to develop and ultimately delegate. As they grow their company he is beginning to value the ability of specialization, as they grow the complexity intertwined with specializing talents and duties of each employee.

We inquired if Matt or the company encountered any fear from growing the crop, to pivoting to dry powder, to chasing their dream of RTD. He explained that all decisions can either be a point of fear or a point of seeking opportunity. Matt enlightened us, "Things that push away can be fear based, but if you look in the other direction it can be an opening, an opportunity, light at the end of the tunnel." His perspective overlapped with telling us that it is never a straight line journey. Being able to embrace the unexpected and prepared to steer the proverbial ship when it is called for. He commended that their destiny is becoming more controlled in a sense that the industry is receiving more and more clarity and acceptance as time goes on.

Matt explained a memorable moment to us that depicted the importance of balance amongst Co-Founders, "If I write a book there will be a chapter called, 'coffee shop girl'. We pitched in WI for a grant and we felt we crushed it. Ultimately we lost to a woman who proposed to convert a gas station to a coffee shop. Initially we were so deflated, we thought we crushed it. Justin I think even was ready to go after the decision. I ringed him in a bit, which is our strengths we never are riding the same wave, it keeps us balanced. We networked after the event with the judges and they told us not only was our pitch great, but we really are on to something. We just had to change our perspective and there was validation available."


The Drinkin' Buds sales pitch direct from Matt:

"It is a better way to drink, better way to relax. Thc is less intrusive on inflammation and how you feel the next day. TI truly believe this, as a 44 year old national level power lifter. Switching to THC, sleep and training for me have both gotten better. Drinkin' buds will be a wonderful fit in this emerging category."

Piece of Advice

The conversation with Matt ended with him sharing his piece of advice.

"I was in the Marines for 6 years and there was a term we used, "Semper Gumby", which means stay flexible. If you can adapt and stay flexible, you are never out of the fight."

Drinkin' Buds recently released their spiked lemonade which is only 35 calories. Try it today by using the promo code below!

KLS10 - 10% off

Interested in being featured with "Together Talks"?
KLS is booking our upcoming schedule now!
Contact us as we would love to learn your story and share it amongst our audience.
Weekly we provide 2 companies our platform to expand their reach courtesy of our campaign. Let's collaborate!!!
In Closing

KLS wants to thank Matt Swanson, Co-Founder, of Drinkin' Buds for today's "Together Talks" feature. Follow along for the Drinkin' Buds journey with their social handles below!

Together Talks with Drinkin' Buds feature #94 - presented by KLS, Klimson Logistics Solutions, freight company

Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with Drinkin' Buds feature #94

*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST customer service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS, freight company, is a 3PL providing nationwide logistics solutions. KLS shipping services include: LTL freight, FTL freight, Reefer LTL freight, Reefer FTL freight, and Drayage. Klimson Logistics Solutions thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign, "Together Talks". If you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!

Why KLS?

Our precise and reliable effort.

We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.

Our Process?

Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.

Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.

The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.

Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.


You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.

For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.

This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.

Services offered?

Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.

Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth

LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).

Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.

FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.

Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution

What makes KLS different?

There are thousands of freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.

Our company also runs a year long charity promotion. Book your first shipment through KLS and we donate to the charity of your choice in your name. Our way of thanking you for giving us an opportunity to show you the KLS way and what makes us one of a kind. This entire package is what we offer to every prospect and every client. Our goal is to help provide answers that customers may have when it comes to shipping. We want to always be available as a resource and will always offer a lending hand whenever we can.

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