10.21.2015 - Press Release

Vacationland Distributors Brings Hoof Hearted Brewing To Maine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Portland, Maine:  The team at Vacationland Distributors, LLC. proudly announce the Maine launch of Hoof Hearted Brewing, a craft brewery in Marengo, Ohio. Hoof Hearted cans will make their debut at 5:30pm on Thursday, October 22nd at Portland’s Bier Cellar on Forest Avenue. Hoof Hearted Brewing’s draft products will launch during Portland Beer Week at a Hoof Hearted Brewing tap takeover at 5:00pm on Friday, November 6th at Nosh Kitchen Bar in Portland.

“Hoof Hearted Brewing is precisely the kind of craft brewery we want to work with," says Jim O’Brien, Co-Founder and President of Vacationland Distributors, LLC.  “The Hoof Hearted guys are making truly world-class beer simply for the love of the craft. Their ethos and approach are truly unique in the craft beer world, and while they don’t take themselves too seriously, they are laser-focused on brewing the best beer on the planet.”

"We have been pretty adventurous craft beer drinkers since the mid 90's, and four years ago we thought we could bring some personality to the Central Ohio scene,” said Trevor Williams, one of the founders of Hoof Hearted Brewing. “The three of us have complimentary skill sets and, like Voltron, we came together and somehow built something literally out of nothing in a barn out in rural Marengo, Ohio.”

When asked about his decision to bring his beer to Maine (which until now was only available in Ohio), Williams said: “We jumped on with Vacationland because we had a great relationship with Vacationland Distributors’ Sales and Business Development Manager John Squadrito. He sold us our brewhouse and fermenters. John and Jarrod Bichon (another member of the Hoof Hearted team) stayed in touch after he joined Vacationland, and I had been following the beers they were bringing to Maine. Then I believe John had a creepy dream about selling our beer, and the rest is history.”

Hoof Hearted Brewing has some of the most unique names and label designs in the industry, and the first cans released in Maine will be their “Roller Blabe” – an Imperial IPA.

From the Hoof Hearted Brewing website (www.hoofheartedbrewing.com):

ROLLER BLABE – Imperial IPA, 8% ABV, 103.3 IBU

Slurp up the neon! One sniff and you’ll be painted in animal print spandex and sporting a side pony tail – and that’s just the guys. Ready yourself for the taste of your fanny pack getting sucked into the tape deck. Bodaciously dry-hopped with the Dank n’ Fruity combo of Mosaic, Simcoe, and Galaxy hops. Brewed under the watchful eye of A.C. Slater and Lisa Turtle – I mean John and Cindy from The Daily Growler.”


5.29.2015 - Press Release

John Squadrito Joins Vacationland Team

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Portland, Maine:  The team at Vacationland Distributors, LLC. proudly announce their newest hire: John Squadrito, formerly the Sales Account Manager for TigPro Stainless Fabrication.

"We couldn’t be happier or more excited to have John aboard as our new Sales and Business Development Manager," says Jim O’Brien, Co-Founder and President of Vacationland Distributors, LLC.  "John has proven himself through his work with TigPro, and understands the craft brewing process firsthand as a result."

"I’m looking forward to continuing to support local craft breweries in a different capacity," says John Squadrito.  "Vacationland has established and executed a truly unique vision for craft beer and wine distribution in the state of Maine.  I’m really excited to be a part of it. The branding and sales side of the craft beer industry has always been my passion, and now I have the opportunity to make them my full-time focus."

John will hit the ground running as Vacationland launches two brands in the next two months: Sap House Meadery on June 1st, and a soon-to-be-announced Canadian craft brewery on July 1st.


5.26.2015 - Press Release

Vactionland Distributors Partners With Sap House Meadery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Portland, Maine:  The team at Vacationland Distributors, LLC. proudly announce their first partnership with a meadery: Sap House Meadery, based in Ossippee, New Hampshire.

"We are excited to welcome a couple world-class mead makers into the fold," says Jim O’Brien, Co-Founder and President of Vacationland Distributors, LLC.  "Matt Trahan and Ash Fischbein are crafting some of the world’s best mead just 45 minutes from Portland, and we couldn’t be more proud to represent them."

"Our meads are unique in the market in their level of balance and depth of flavor," says Matt Trahan, Sap House co-founder.  "Many meads are either very flavorful but very sweet, or light and dry but lacking in character.  We use a traditional no-boil technique, fresh local ingredients, and significant aging to create meads that are drier and lighter, but have incredible complexity and body."

Sap House produces several award-winning meads soon to be available throughout the state:

  • SUGAR MAPLE – Bronze Medal, 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition; Bronze Medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
  • HOPPED BLUEBERRY MAPLE – Gold Medal, 2012 Mazer Cup International Mead Competition; Silver Medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
  • VANILLA BEAN – Gold Medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition; Bronze Medal, 2012 Florida State Fair International Wine Competition
  • OSSIPIOJA – Gold Medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
  • CHOCOLATE (seasonal)– Silver Medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
  • CRANBERRY SAGE (seasonal) – Silver Medal, 2012 Mazer Cup International Wine Competition; Bronze Medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

Matt Trahan will be touring the state with the Vacationland team June 1st through June 3rd, with free tastings in the evenings at several locations around Maine.

For more information on Sap House Meadery, visit them on the web at www.saphousemeadery.com.


1.29.2015 - Tom Atwell

Vactionland Distributors changing how breweries deliver beer

By Tom Atwell, The Coastal Journal

A new Maine distributor has opened and is seeking to change the relationship between brewers and distributors, letting brewers drop their distributor if the relationship isn’t working.

Laws all over the country allow for an indefinite length of contracts between brewer and distributor, said Jim O’Brien, president and one of the five native Mainers who founded Vacationland Distributors. That means that to break a contract, a brewer would have to pay the distributor a lot of money– as much as three years of the distribution fees it would have paid.

“That made sense in the 1970s, when there were only six to 10 breweries in the whole country” and distributors made investments to cover their trucks with the names of the product they distributed, according to O’Brien.

When Vacationland opened last summer, it offered short-term contracts that provided no penalty at the end of them. This was such a big deal that Beer Advocate – a national magazine and website for beer geeks – wrote a story about it.

Under Maine state law, any brewer that sells more than 50,000 gallons of beer each year must sell through a distributor. Brewers that sell 50,000 gallons or less can distribute by themselves, which is what such high-quality brewers as Marshall Wharf in Belfast and Bis-sell Brothers in Portland have done.

“We are a huge proponent of the self-distribution model,” O’Brien said. “I am a fan of beer and I can sell beer pretty effectively, but no one can sell more beer than the person who brews it.”

But as breweries expand, the brewers end up not having the time for that part of the job.

The first Maine brewer Vacationland has signed up is SoMe Brewing Co., which opened in December 2013 in York. Like many new breweries, it first sold only at its brewery/tasting room and bars, and later started doing some small-scale bottling and self-distributing in York County.

SoMe recently signed on with Vacationland to distribute in the other 15 Maine counties, with the brewer continuing in York County. That model will save the brewer money, because it does not have to pay distributing fees there while expanding its business throughout the state.

Another of Vacationland’s clients doesn’t brew in Maine, but has Maine roots. Newport Storm, based in Newport, R.I., was formed 15 years ago by four people who met at Colby College in Waterville, and its head brewer is Derek Luke, who grew up in Scarborough, where his parents still have their home.

The other two brewers on Vacationland’s list are Element Brewing in Millers Falls, Mass., which contacted O’Brien, because it liked that Vacationland is trying to break the mold of beer distribution, and Blue Hills Brewery in Canton, Mass., because O’Brien contacted the company after falling in love with its beer.

All four of the brewers will be pouring at the Bangor on Tap beer festival Feb. 27 at the Cross Insurance Center and were at Portland on Tap last Saturday (Jan 24.)

O’Brien is excited to be adding a soft drink to its line, S&O’K soda, which used to be bottled in western Maine and is being revived. Vacationland also represents nine wineries.

O’Brien said when the distributorship opened late last summer, it focused on selling to stores and bars in Maine’s population centers, and over the winter to areas near ski areas. He will seek to establish relationships with more stores in the Midcoast in the coming months.

Now, for some of the beers Vacationland distributes.

SoMe Brewing makes a wide range of beers, from low-alcohol session beers to big high alcohol beers. Crystal Persuasion is 8 percent ABV, 100 percent Crystal hops, malty with a good hops balance. Whoopie Pie Stout is a milk stout aged on cocoa nibs and vanilla beans, 6 percent ABV, and it does taste a bit like one of Maine’s favorite snacks.

Newport Storm’s flagship is Hurricane Amber, a good but not great red ale. O’Brien is a big fan of its Blueberry Ale, a kolsch style, made with whole Rhode Island blueberries, and not too sweet. Its Blizzard Porter is good and rich, and it has just come out with its first year-round IPA, India Point Ale, which has received good reviews on websites, but which I haven’t tried.

I enjoyed Element’s Extra Special Oak when I had it over Christmas, but have yet to try anything from Blue Hills.

Tom Atwell is a Coastal Journal contributing writer who has been writing about beer since 2010. He can be contacted at: 767-2297 or tomatwell at me dot com


10.27.2014 - Brewbound.com

SoMe Brewing partners with Vacationland Distributors

Portland, Maine — The team at Vacationland Distributors, LLC., Maine’s newest beer and wine distributor, proudly announce their first partnership with a Maine-based brewery: SoMe Brewing Company, based in York, Maine.

“We started this business with the hope we could serve Maine craft brewers.  With SoMe Brewing on board, we can begin to do just that,” says Jim O’Brien, Co-Founder and President of Vacationland Distributors, LLC.  “The father and son team at SoMe aren’t just making some incredible, high-quality craft beer.  Their family-owned business is very much like our own, and both teams are excited to grow together.”

“We are very excited about partnering with Vacationland,” says David Rowland, Founder and Brewmaster’s Father at SoMe Brewing.  “Their approach to distribution and to the brands they represent is more personal and genuine than the other distributors.  This partnership represents an opportunity to expand our brand and get our beer to areas on the state we simply couldn’t get to.  This is a big step for us, and we couldn’t be happier.”

SoMe Brewing produces many recipes, and the first to get statewide distribution will be:

  • Crystal Persuasion – a dank, citrusy IPA (some go so far as to call it an imperial IPA) that puts the famed Crystal hops front and center
  • Whoopie Pie Stout – a full-bodied milk stout offering chocolate notes for days, and tastes of Maine’s trademark dessert
  • Box The Compass – a big, malty American double named for the exercise new sailors perform to demonstrate their knowledge of all the points on a compass
  • Apostrophe – an American IPA made with 100% Mosaic hops
  • Denthead Hefeweizen – a solid example of the style, with balanced wheat, clove, and citrus notes
  • Cinnamon Toast Ale – here hops take a backseat to balanced malts, cinnamon, and caramel notes

SoMe Brewing creations will be featured at Portland’s Great Lost Bear during the upcoming Beer Week (November 1st through November 10th), and will be available for purchase statewide in bottles and on draft by November 1st..

For more information on SoMe Brewing, visit them on the web at www.somebrewingco.com.


September, 2014 - BeerAdvocate Magazine

Vacationland Introduces Fixed-Length Distribution Agreements in Maine

A newly launched wholesale distributor in Maine is challenging the traditional handling of wholesale agreements between brewers and distributors.  Vacationland Distributors offers craft breweries fixed-length distribution agreements, after which a brewery can choose to dissolve the partnership penalty-free if they wish to work with another wholesaler.

Until recently, a brewery seeking distribution would sign an agreement with a wholesaler and stick with that partner for good.  Breaking free of that contractual agreement is typically an arduous and expensive process, which many breweries simply cannot afford.

Inspiration to remedy this issue struck Vacationland co-founder and president Jim O'Brien during a college internship at Banded Horn Brewery, where he learned the ins and outs of Maine's franchise laws.  This led O'Brien to start questioning the establishment.

O'Brien compares it to his previous experience working in universities.  "I saw many instances where professors would work really hard to get tenure, but when they got it, they perhaps didn't work as hard as they used to," he says.  "So the idea of this 'job for life' seems to us part of the problem."

Rather than pointing fingers, O'Brien explains that Vacationland is looking to provide breweries with an alternative.  "[Our] business model won't be a good fit for every brewery, [but if] we can help move the ball toward a more fair and ethical treatment of the craft brewery, I'll feel pretty proud."


8.31.2014 - WCSH6.com

Portland BrewFest grows with craft beer industry

VIDEO LINK


8.31.2014 - CentralMaine.com

Colby graduates bring RI craft brew to Maine

Four Colby College graduates who 15 years ago started the Newport Storm Brewery in Rhode Island are now “bringing it back to the place it all began,” according to a press release from the company.

Rhode Island’s first microbrewery, Newport Storm, will now be distributing its craft beer in Maine in a partnership with Vacation Land Distributors of Portland. The brewery produces more than 50 distinctive brews based on the winning recipe of keeping things small, local, unique and sustainable, according to the release. Their brews include a variety of year-round and limited release offerings, according to the release.

Brewery co-founder and brewmaster Derek Luke said in the release that “After 15 years, it is really exciting to have my beer available in the state I spent the first 22 years of my life in. My parents are still in Scarborough in the same house I grew up in and I’m looking forward to bringing Newport Storm to Maine where I first learned to brew.”

Distribution throughout Maine is set for the beginning of September.


8.22.2014 - Bangor Daily News, Lewiston Sun Journal

Startup craft brew distributor touts unprecedented model in taking on Big Beer

By Darren Fishell, BDN Staff

Portland, Maine — Maine’s craft beer surge is changing more than tastes.

Maine distributors that have for years carried only the big names in beer are hoping to tap into the upswing in small breweries. And one Yarmouth-based startup is building a niche business on that market alone.

“All we’re trying to do is offer an alternative,” said Jim O’Brien, president of the Yarmouth-based Vacationland Distributors. “It’s not going to be the best fit for everyone.”

His company has so far signed deals to bring beer from two Massachusetts breweries — Blue Hills and Element Brewing — and the Rhode Island brewery Newport Storm to retail customers from Kennebunk to Orono.

The now one-van distributor claims to be the first in the country to offer fixed-length distribution contracts to brewers, pushing an issue that’s been lurking in the background of the growing craft beer industry: franchise law. And it could pop up in the next legislative session.

Maine is one of many states that allow breweries to distribute their own products, if they produce less than 50,000 gallons per year. That allowance has helped small breweries grow. But at a certain point, self-distribution can be impractical for a small brewer. Beyond 50,000 gallons, there’s a hard stop, where the law requires breweries to partner with distributors to truck their beer to bars and retailers.

Those partnerships are governed ultimately by a state’s franchise law, which leaders in the craft beer industry say can sometimes put small brewers at a disadvantage.

Paul Gatza, president of the national craft beer trade group the Brewers Association, said Maine’s franchise law makes it “very difficult” for a brewer to get out of a contract with a distributor, which requires showing good cause that the distributor failed to meet the terms of the contract.

Those franchise laws were created to protect small distributors that invest in building a local market from abuses by large brewers. Those in the craft industry say the laws are better suited to the beer industry of the late 1970s, when the country had fewer than 50 brewing companies. There’s closer to 4,500 breweries with active permits today.

“It’s a huge concern because a lot of the brewers who are out there now are entrepreneurs but they don’t have control of their destinies and they are locked into these relationships,” Gatza said.

Those smaller brewers could decide it’s not working out for a number of reasons: not enough attention to their brand, inability to change quickly with the needs of a young craft brewery, etc.

“A lot of state brewers guilds are interested in the ability for a company to leave a wholesaler for fair market value and I would think that that’s something that the Maine brewers guild would want to look at,” Gatza said.

As brewers in Maine continue to grow, more are approaching or hitting the production limit requiring distribution deals.

Eight Maine breweries produced more than 50,000 gallons last year, according to state figures. That’s out of a pool of about 59 breweries. Another eight brewers put out more than 20,000 gallons last year and the 35 breweries in operation for most of 2013 projected in a Maine Brewers’ Guild survey that they would triple their collective production in five years.

O’Brien’s company is seeking a niche, based mostly on small brewers seeking distribution deals with fixed terms that could end up being a long-term arrangement or a bridge to bigger things for a brewery entering the 50,000-and-up club.

“We’ve got small breweries that are not growing because they don’t want to exceed that 50,000-gallon cap,” O’Brien said.

While the same franchise law applies to agreements with his company, O’Brien said the company’s reputation depends on abiding by that contract.

“If we chose to take the agreement that we have and throw that out the window and hide behind the current state law… I’d have to take these people that I met and I’d have to basically throw all of that trust out the window,” O’Brien said.

Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, said it’s difficult to make a broad statement about how franchise law affects the industry in Maine, as each new brewery has different goals for just how big they want to get. Some don’t plan on going past 50,000 gallons.

Sullivan, hired as the Maine guild’s first full-time director last fall, declined to comment on whether franchise law will be a focus of lobbying from his organization this year.

“We’re happy new distributors are opening and we’re happy there are new businesses that are able to start and grow around craft beer,” Sullivan said.

Gatza, with the national Brewers’ Association, said he’s seen some interest in a similar distribution approach in other parts of the country, but “it’s hard to find specific examples.”

O’Brien said he and his partners in Vacationland couldn’t find any.

In competing for the attention of craft breweries, Vacationland is up against the state’s larger distributors, who are also turning more attention to that market.

Scott Solman, owner of Maine Distributors in Bangor, said he and the seven other members of the Maine Beer and Wine Distributors Association are all “actively pursuing craft beers.” The trend is changing his business, too.

“When you try to place Bud Light, nobody says, ‘tell me the attributes of this beer,’ — it’s not about flavor profile,” Solman said. “With craft beer, it’s like fine wine. You need a different selling approach.”

His company recently signed a deal with Geaghan Brothers Brewing and previously signed a deal with Black Bear Brewing in Orono.

Just like O’Brien’s business, out-of-state craft beers are also coming onto the scene for distributors in Maine. Solman’s company and others delivering Anheuser-Busch InBev beers across the state recently brought on the California brewery, 21st Amendment.

“It helps us fill a void in our portfolio,” said Solman, whose company distributes Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch InBev beers to the state’s five northernmost counties. “The consumer is rapidly changing. They want a variety of different flavor profiles and they want a variety of products.”

Just like the changing beer industry, competition among distributors is relatively new. The L. Knife & Son Companies, a national distributor of Anheuser-Busch InBev beers, in 2012 started the distributor Craft Beer Guild of Maine, to focus on that segment of the industry.

In the last two decades, the general trend in the industry in Maine has been consolidation, according to Cheryl Timberlake, executive vice president of the Maine Beer and Wine Distributors Association. There were more than 24 distributors about 20 years ago, she said. There are about 18 now, according to state records.

Both Solman and O’Brien said they think as the beer market becomes more diverse, there’s room for distributors to follow suit.

“Our advantage depends on the brewer that you’re talking to,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think we’d have a competitive advantage for AB-InBev or even Sebago, Gritty’s or Geary’s — we don’t have the scale.”

He maintains the distribution options for craft beer are lacking.

“It’s high time for more craft beer and for someone who’s willing to distribute on more even terms,” O’Brien said.

Solman, too, acknowledges that with growth in the craft beer industry, “there’s definitely some pressure on franchise laws.”

And companies at both levels are trying to negotiate that shift.

“What we’re trying to do is figure out where the market is going to go, head up the road a couple miles and wait for it to come to us,” O’Brien said. “Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t.”


7.24.2014 - Beerpulse.com

Vacationland Distributors, LLC offers fixed-length agreements, supports franchise reform

Portland, Maine – The owners of Vacationland Distributors, LLC., Maine’s newest beer and wine distributor, have set their sights squarely on the craft beer industry – but not for the reason you might think. The Vacationland team started the company in direct response to the imbalance of power between breweries and their distributors. Their answer: offering breweries fixed-length distribution agreements. They are the first distributor in the nation to offer this model, and they are already making waves in the craft beer scene.

“We…need state franchise laws that allow a small brewer to pay fair market value and move out of unsatisfactory wholesaler relationships,” says Jim Koch, the “elder statesman of craft brewing”. The average person on the street doesn’t realize that brewers have to sign permanent distribution agreements with their distributors. The distributors can cancel the agreements with as little as 60 days’ notice, but the brewers often can never get out of the agreements, as doing so requires more money than these brewers will ever have on hand.

Vacationland Distributors is trying to turn the craft beer distribution model on its head. After looking at the industry during their studies at the University of Southern Maine’s MBA program, two of the owners felt there was a serious flaw in the current model. “Imagine if you could only work for one company for your entire life. Many people choose to, but that’s the point – it’s their choice,” says Jim O’Brien, Vacationland Distributors’ co-owner and president. “Imagine another place wanted to hire you for more money, better benefits, and a friendlier environment. Now imagine that in order for you to be allowed to quit your job, you had to pay your employer the equivalent of three years’ worth of your salary. That’s precisely what craft breweries are facing, and we don’t think it has to be that way.”

At least in Maine, craft brewers have a new option. Vacationland Distributors is proud to offer craft breweries from Maine and around the world an opportunity to partner with a distributor who is committed to doing the right thing for the craft beer community.


7.23.2014 - Brewbound.com

Newly Launched Maine Wholesaler Challenges State Franchise Laws

By Chris Furnari

A new beer and wine wholesaler based in Portland, Me. is hoping to attract small craft brands with an unconventional approach to beer distribution.

Vacationland Distributors, LLC., launched its first craft beer brand, Massachusetts’ Blue Hills Brewery, into the Maine marketplace three weeks ago. Vacationland’s co-founder, Jim O’Brien, said he believes it is the first wholesaler in the country to directly challenge state franchise laws by offering beverage manufacturers fixed-length contracts capable of being nullified at any time.

“As beer fans, some of our favorite small craft and nano-breweries should have a distribution option that doesn’t involve an arranged marriage with no opportunity for divorce,” O’Brien said.

After studying the craft beer industry as part of a recently-completed MBA program at the University of Southern Maine, O’Brien and four other business partners set out to give craft brewers a route to market that was free of termination clauses.

The plan, O’Brien said, is to offer small brewers and winemakers 3-5 year wholesale contracts that can be terminated for any reason, at any time.

“The agreement we have right now is that if a brewery doesn’t want to re-sign with us after three years, the contract is nullified and we aren’t owed anything,” he said.

That is a different way of doing business from many wholesalers in the U.S., who only sometimes allow craft brewers to end a relationship for cause, and for fair-market value. Vacationland, O’Brien explained, will allow its suppliers to leave without any buyback process.

“We are hoping that our enthusiasm comes through in the business practice itself,” he said. “Our job, once we sign the agreement, is to kill ourselves, every day, on behalf of these brands. At the end of our three or five year shot, we want to make sure that we have behaved in ways that make our partners want to re-sign with us.”

If the brewery isn’t happy before the contract is up, “We part ways,” O’Brien said. “We give them a handshake and help them find someone who [would] be a better fit.”

But the consensus from industry experts and other craft brewers is that state franchise laws would be likely to trump even a written contract. In theory, Vacationland, despite its stated attempt to “turn the craft beer distribution model on its head,” could break its written agreement with a brewer and still be protected by state franchise laws.

Nathan Sanborn, the co-founder of Portland’s Rising Tide Brewing, said he hadn’t heard much about the new wholesaler.

“It is an interesting model and I will be interested in seeing how it all develops,” he told Brewbound.

Vacationland is currently selling comedian Adam Carrolla’s ready-to-drink cocktail, “Mangria,” as well as offerings from Blue HIlls Brewery, and as soon the company inks a deal with a third supplier, it will need to invest in a refrigerated box truck and additional warehouse capacity, O’Brien said.

That’s why Vacationland, in an effort to mitigate the risk of taking on suppliers without a long-term agreement, is initially offering three-to-five year contracts.

But Sanborn said he still sees some challenges for both Vacationland and its potential partners.

“The biggest risk for Vacationland is that they might be investing a lot of money into a brand that does well for them and the brewery decides to take the brand somewhere else,” he said. “If they choose to honor their own contract, they won’t have any protection.”

The risk for any brewer opting to sign with a new wholesaler is lack of experience, Sanborn said

“You are always taking the risk with a small wholesaler because they don’t have much penetration,” he said. “But you might also be a big brand in a small book, which can work to your advantage as well.”

Vacationland has the ability to sell statewide but plans to focus its attention on more populated areas like Portland, Biddeford and Bangor. It will be competing against much more resourced and well-financed wholesalers like Pine State Beverage, Nappi and National for many of the same brands.

Much like the craft brands it hopes to represent, the company was launched for less than $1 million. It is currently operating out of a small warehouse in Southern Maine and deploys a single sprinter van for deliveries to on and off-premise accounts.

But that hasn’t deterred the company from getting crafty with its approach to operations. To create its initial account list, Vacationland culled Maine’s public list of active liquor licenses to create a database and then used software to plot the most efficient delivery routes.

“Initially we are going to focus on small and independent chains,” said O’Brien.

The company said it hopes to represent upwards of 12 beer companies within the next 18 months.


7.23.2014 - Press Release

Craft Beer Distributor Creates New Distribution Model

Vacationland Distributors, LLC. Offers Fixed-Length Distribution Agreements, Supports Franchise Law Reform

July 23, 2014

Portland, Maine - The owners of Vacationland Distributors, LLC., Maine’s newest beer and wine distributor, have set their sights squarely on the craft beer industry – but not for the reason you might think.  The Vacationland team started the company in direct response to the imbalance of power between breweries and their distributors.  Their answer: offering breweries fixed-length distribution agreements.  They are the first distributor in the nation to offer this model, and they are already making waves in the craft beer scene.

We...need state franchise laws that allow a small brewer to pay fair market value and move out of unsatisfactory wholesaler relationships," says Jim Koch, the “elder statesman of craft brewing”.  The average person on the street doesn’t realize that brewers have to sign permanent distribution agreements with their distributors.  The distributors can cancel the agreements with as little as 60 days’ notice, but the brewers often can never get out of the agreements, as doing so requires more money than these brewers will ever have on hand.

Vacationland Distributors is trying to turn the craft beer distribution model on its head.  After looking at the industry during their studies at the University of Southern Maine’s MBA program, two of the owners felt there was a serious flaw in the current model.  “Imagine if you could only work for one company for your entire life.  Many people choose to, but that’s the point – it’s their choice,” says Jim O’Brien, Vacationland Distributors’ co-owner and president.  “Imagine another place wanted to hire you for more money, better benefits, and a friendlier environment.  Now imagine that in order for you to be allowed to quit your job, you had to pay your employer the equivalent of three years’ worth of your salary.  That’s precisely what craft breweries are facing, and we don’t think it has to be that way.”

At least in Maine, craft brewers have a new option.  Vacationland Distributors is proud to offer craft breweries from Maine and around the world an opportunity to partner with a distributor who is committed to doing the right thing for the craft beer community.


Copyright ©2014 Vacationland Distributors, LLC