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SipCraft Beverage with Wes Sitser feature #128 of Together Talks

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"Together Talks" feature #128: SipCraft Beverage presented by KLS, freight company

Some Background on SipCraft Beverage

Today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the opportunity to interview SipCraft Beverage and Co-Founder, Wes Sitser.


How they are different - The Entire Supply Chain:

Other companies only offer a portion of supply chains solutions. Such as manufacturing, cans, or ingredients. SipCraft can provide them all, and more.

 

Points of Contact:

They are a small team. Your direct contact will be with one of the owner's of SipCraft. AKA other beverage entrepreneurs.

 

Low Volumes and Cost

It can be really expensive to start a beverage company. They are 1/3 of the traditional start-up costs.


When did the company begin?

Middle of 2023.


Story of how it was created?

My business partner and I, we've been in the beverage industry. We started off by importing a coconut water from Australia, that taught us the business especially the marketing distribution. We didn't know much about manufacturing, but were working with a copacker in Vietnam. When we went to go make our own product, after working with them for about a year and a half, we pivoted to creating a brand called Mela Watermelon Water, my business partner and I created that.


Working with the copackers we started to understand and analyze price points and flexibility. Their business model was unique to what was being offered by copackers here in the US. Often, you're responsible for supply chain and procurement. But the company we were using did everything in house as sort of a turnkey solution. The biggest selling point for us was the ability to create a product with relatively low costs, but not sacrificing the flexibility for minimums.


They were offering lower costs, lower minimums, and ultimately that led to lower total costs of a project. This was eye opening and we saw an opportunity in the space for young, start up companies. We also understood that generally speaking, working with international companies can produce hurdles mainly with communication. We had to figure out how to navigate those challenges, but it afforded us such a great opportunity to get started and keep costs low.


We then sold our brand and decided we wanted to create another brand. We were in the process of finding another manufacturer and discovered a company in Sri Lanka. We made countless visits and started developing this brand. As we got more introduced to the company and the people, we thought they would be a great partner. We paused on our brand and transitioned to developing a manufacturing company with them.


We pitched him the idea because he had the expertise in manufacturing and we understood the market in the United States. We upgraded his manufacturing facility and started pitching this concept of lower cost, more flexibility, with lower minimums. We are able to provide all this while removing any concerns with language barriers. And we also believed in this pitch so much that we continued creating our new brand, REPEAK - energy seltzer.

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!
What separates your company from competition?

Procurement: We'll do all that for the customer. But also, we have access to really unique things that you can get in the US, but it's not as high quality. For example, our own product, we use a lot of ingredients like passion fruit, pineapple, mango, and we are getting those right at the source. They aren't diluted or shipped in concentrate, losing a lot of quality.


Sourcing:

We're close to India and China where a lot of different things are produced like cans, for example, are much cheaper. The supply chain, we have access to the unique things, but also at lower cost.


Creating a beverage:

We assist with beverage formulation, graphic design, packaging, anything that allows your business to be more streamlined we bring value to.


Importing costs?

There are other costs than just freight. While we do have to ship it internationally, if you still break it out on a per-can or per-case basis and compare your cost of goods, our model is still significantly lower.


Not only from a cost perspective on a per-unit basis, but from a logistics perspective of not having to ship all these ingredients is another huge benefit. Because we're handling a lot of the procurement or we have it already in our warehouse, it is one less thing a client has to manage.


Reflect on a goal you set and how it made you feel to accomplish it?

Systems implementation. Procurement has so many moving parts. This was a larger undertaking than I had imagined. Coming from our experience of creating the brand and product to handling the manufacturing we learned what was required. As we developed this company we learned how important systems were, especially to scale. Going through that trial and error and correcting any systems that weren't fully functional was necessary. I believe it has positioned us to make a strong, aggressive push in the second half of this year.

Goals for upcoming year + Next phase of the company?

I believe we're in a position to scale. We will continue to focus on our processes and the customers that we have. Although our systems have been implemented and are producing very well, we will continue to evaluate if we can be even more efficient. By keeping that focus and trajectory that will allow us to focus on sales and customer acquisition. Onboarding new customers will be the first step of our scaling process. Our goal is one customer per month, which doesn't sound like a lot. However, when the process is as in-depth as ours it is a little longer sales cycle. Ultimately one new account per month would be a great start for us.

What were your concerns about making this transition?

it is always what you don't know. When it comes to actually the functions and what needs to be done I think that's the biggest concern. The beverage brand we created was different than our manufacturing company. There are some things that still apply or overlap which has been helpful. But the biggest thing we have learned is what it takes to build from scratch and implement systems to properly scale.


How did the beverage brand help during the transition?

We understand the pain points of a beverage brand very well. We were there, we experienced it. In the beginning, every dollar matters. When we pitch to a customer that our low minimums and costs allows them to control their inventory and still allow them to be profitable it is so impactful. A lot of companies are running at a negative trying to scale and get their company big enough where the volume they order makes them profitable. But if you can't sustain operations to reach that level, your company can't succeed.


This is a huge issue and we know our structure will allow many more companies to not only enter the market, but be more sustainable. Our experience is pretty invaluable and understanding the customer's thought process has been very pivotal.


How have you grown as a leader?

When you've done something once and then you do it again, you realize that there's just so much you don't know. There's not one silver magic bullet that's going to solve all your problems. Instead it is a constant challenge to learn, evolve, and adapt. We talked about efficiencies of our systems, but that also applies to me as a Co-Founder and leader.

Describe the journey of being an entrepreneur?

Figuring what it means to be the CEO. Even if you're the only employee, still invest the time to learn what that entails. I believe that is one of the biggest ways to unlock a way to scale your company. It isn't just making decisions, but understanding what is required to execute and having a plan to actually implement and follow. Understanding where to invest not only resources, but time is arguably the best way to track ROI and make your business operate as optimally as possible.


When was the first moment you felt like you could breathe?

We haven't put a dime into paid digital marketing. When we started having requests come in through our website that was the moment we took notice that we have some traction. People went out of their way to say they found our concept interesting or were referred to us.


Do you have a moment that brings you the most joy?

Definitely the first production runs we do,. We go through all the quality control steps and at the end the products taste amazing. That is the biggest win because we know how much goes into it to get the product to the finish line. Having all of our systems and processes firing on all cylinders and complete a production run without any issues is the best feeling for us.

REPEAK - Energy Seltzer?

There was a company and their idea was a sparkling water with caffeine. Often times drinks in this space can be unhealthy, we did some market research and felt like there was an opening in the market. There are tons of energy drinks that claim they are healthy but end up tasting like candy. Even though they claim zero calories or zero sugar or whatever, in order to get there usually it includes some unhealthy ingredients. We decided to create a product that taste good, uses only real fruit juice, under 100 calories, never any added sugar or sweeteners, and has caffeine.


We believed it would appeal to consumers who go after energy drinks because ours still offers sweetness, but it isn't so sweet like traditional energy drinks. The fact that in the space it has only natural ingredients also makes it very unique. Anyone who wants a healthier choice, we are providing that.


Piece of Advice

Building systems and understanding what it takes to be a CEO.

That doesn't necessarily mean you have to build automations or anything, but just going through and really understanding what a CEO is and requires. Even if you're an employee, understanding all the parts of your role and breaking it out. Identifying which are most important and being clear on the highest objective. When you can highlight the objectives with the highest ROI, you can maximize your output and efficiency.


It took me way too long scrambling around doing different things. Sure I was working, but it wasn't structured or with a plan. When I started understanding where my time was best spent and how to maximize my efficiency it was night and day. I think it will make a huge difference for a lot of people because you're really clear on what needs to be done from a high level.


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 SipCraft Beverage and Co-Founder, Wes Sitser for today's "Together Talks" feature. Follow along for their journey with their social handles below!


Together Talks with SipCraft Beverage feature #128 - presented by KLS, Klimson Logistics Solutions, freight company

Business Resources!

Look at our new page HERE designed to provide excellent opportunities that may be of interest to you. These are a compilation from our chats within our "Together Talks". If you have any suggestions please let us know as we would love to provide more valuable insight to our community!

Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with SipCraft Beverage feature #128

*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.

Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.

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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