The former leaders of Saint Archer Brewing Company are back in the booze business after raising nearly $4 million and launching three separate beer, wine and distribution ventures.
Anchored under Ocotillo Holdings LLC, the first of the three businesses — Scout Distribution, a craft-focused beer and wine wholesaler — officially launched Wednesday in San Diego.
Led by Saint Archer co-founder Josh Landan, ex-VP Jeff Hansson and ex-market manager Anthony Levas, Scout Distribution will act as both a boutique wholesaler and a marketing consultancy.
“Having owned a startup brewery, we’re extremely familiar with every aspect of a craft breweries business,” Landan, who will serve as Scout’s CEO, said via a press release. “We will assist our brands in all facets, whether it’s traditional brand building, market planning or raising capital.”
Landan stepped away from Saint Archer in February 2017, 18 months after selling the San Diego craft brewery to MillerCoors, in order to focus on Villager Goods, a non-alcoholic food and beverage company that he and Hansson had launched in mid-2016.
Speaking to Brewbound, Hansson called Scout his “passion project,” citing his long-held desire to start a distributorship and the need for more independent wholesalers focused on helping smaller brands get to market in San Diego.
“There are so many brands that are looking for a home,” he said.
As an increasing number of larger distribution companies have consolidated, Scout joins a growing number of startups focused on selling craft beers from smaller brands that have emerged in recent years, following in the footsteps of San Diego’s Stone Distributing, the wholesale arm of Stone Brewing.
Scout’s initial portfolio of brands will include primarily San Diego-based alcoholic beverage companies, including 32 North Brewing, JuneShine Hard Kombucha, Bivouac Cider, and Abnormal Beer Company, as well as Ventura-based Topa Topa Brewing.
“These are awesome, high-potential brands,” Hansson said. “A lot of them, they just don’t know what they don’t know. But they make awesome products and that’s where we’re going to come in.”
Hansson, an 18-year industry veteran, said Scout will advise these brands on business planning and capital raises and help give them exposure to a pool of potential investors. He also stressed the importance of brand building via social media marketing, and said Scout would invest in paid social media posts to promote new releases.
“Distributors just don’t do things like that,” Hansson said.
“We want to grow with them and build their brands with them,” he added. “We’re capitalized. We have a ton of knowhow and experience on our side.”
According to an SEC filing, Scout Distribution LLC’s parent company, Ocotillo Holdings LLC, raised about $3.9 million from 47 investors during an equity raise earlier this year. Hansson told Brewbound that the company’s group of investors is nearly “totally different” than those who backed Saint Archer and Villager.
In addition to Scout’s three majority owners, Scout’s director of key accounts, Lisa Govenar, holds a minority stake in the business, Hansson said. He declined to share additional details of the company’s ownership structure.
Hansson said Govenar, who last worked as a key account manager for Stone Distribution, was a key hire for Scout.
“She’s a huge deal in San Diego,” he said. “She’s been calling on all the major restaurant groups, hotels, bars, restaurants, craft beer bars for the last 11 years.”
The company is also counting the relationships Levas and former Saint Archer sales rep Olympia Anton have built to win over retailers who may be reluctant to take on additional invoices, Hansson said.
“These are people who have years, and years, and years of relationships with the best accounts,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to, if you have those relationships, you will get to the front of the line, in front of other suppliers and distributors.”
In early 2019, Scout’s portfolio of offerings will expand to include Hansson, Landan and Levas’ new beer company, Harland Brewing, as well as their wine brand, Claxton Cellars.
Beyond those brands, Hansson said there are no plans to add to Scout’s book, and the company will not be distributing offerings from Villager Goods.
“We just want to give those [existing] brands a ton of focus,” he said. “We definitely have brands that we have our eye on for sure that we would love to talk to; we just haven’t yet.”
Scout currently has nine employees, and Hansson said the company will hire more workers over the next three months. He added that the company recently placed an order for a third refrigerated delivery truck.
A press release with additional details on Scout Distribution’s launch is included below.
Born from the Idea of Putting Brands First; San Diego’s Scout Distribution to Break the Distributor/Brand Model with New Integrated Distribution Concept
San Diego, CA (October 17, 2018) – In a market where brand proliferation continues to surge, and too few distributor options are available, Scout Distribution, a new craft beer and wine distributor has been formed. Launching Mid-October, Scout Distribution will redefine the way brands, and distributors interact. With a new distributor/brand model, Scout will work directly with the brands on the development of their local, regional and national market plans with an emphasis on providing marketing guidance and collaboration on the brands social and traditional marketing platforms, and special events.
Leading Scout is a team of industry veterans with over 35 years of combined beverage experience. Josh Landan, former CEO and Co-Founder of Saint Archer Brewing in San Diego will lead as CEO of the newly formed distribution company. Jeff Hansson, former Vice President of Saint Archer, will serve as COO and, Anthony Levas, a well-known name in the San Diego craft beer community having served as the San Diego and Orange County Market Manager for Saint Archer, will lead as Vice President. Longtime craft veteran Lisa Govenar, most recently the Key Account Manager at Stone Distribution in San Diego, will serve as Director of Key Accounts.
“Our goal is to create a distribution company that will redefine the way brands and distributors interact. Having owned a start-up brewery, we’re extremely familiar with every aspect of a craft breweries business. We will assist our brands in all facets, whether it’s traditional brand building, market planning or raising capital”, said Josh Landan, CEO. “Owning a brewery is an extremely high risk, capital intensive business and we plan to truly partner with our brands to help them achieve their overarching goals and accelerate their growth.”
Focusing San Diego County exclusively, Scout Distribution is assembling a strong portfolio of local and regional brands launching with San Diego favorite 32 North Brewing, Topa Topa Brewing from Ventura and up-and-coming local brands, JuneShine Hard Kombucha, Bivouac Cider and Abnormal Beer Company.
“We’re not just another distribution company. We’re doing business with these small breweries and wineries in mind. I have been building brands through the three-tiered distribution system for 18 years, and I am passionate about sharing the knowledge I have accumulated with the brands within our portfolio” says Jeff Hansson, COO.
Aiming for a Mid-October launch, Scout Distribution will initially focus on the San Diego market, with plans to expand their portfolio in early 2019 distributing the newly formed Harland Brewing Company and Claxton Cellars.
About Scout Distribution
Created by a group of individuals who are committed to building brands in an unconventional way, Scout Distribution is leading with innovation and customer service. With the goal to work with each of their brands individually to achieve their goals; Scout Distribution, where brands come first.