Jeff Quint is the founder/CEO of Swisher-based Cedar Ridge Distillery. Quint founded the award-winning distillery in 2005 with the notion that “Iowa should be a net exporter of distilled spirits, not a net importer.” Learn about Jeff Quint…
Hometown: Winthrop, Iowa
First job: Carpentry during my school years. CPA in Minneapolis for my first career-related job.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in Iowa: My wife, Laurie, and I like to go to state parks and hike and get on the water when possible. We have a big yard as well and enjoy being outdoors.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Developing a distilled spirits business in Iowa. Prior to Cedar Ridge, we Iowans were importing 100 percent of the $350 million of distilled spirits we were consuming annually. Meanwhile, most distilled spirits are being produced from corn. We were selling $4 worth of corn and buying back $40 worth of finished spirits. We built our business on the premise that Iowa should be a net exporter of distilled spirits, not a net importer.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Surviving the startup process as a pioneer in a new industry for our state. Making whiskey and building a whiskey business is something that takes many, many years to develop. My background in accounting and finance was invaluable during this phase of our growth.
Someone who inspires you and why: Lately, I’ve been pretty interested in Teddy Roosevelt, and how he changed our nation in some very positive ways. Prior to his presidency, some very large corporate trusts really had a chokehold on our nation and our workforce. He successfully beat back these trusts, allowing for a stronger middle class over the last century or so now. Also, he advocated strongly for many of the National Parks that we all enjoy today.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: It may take a lifetime to build your business, so don’t go into it half-heartedly. Building our whiskey business has consumed the bulk of my career, and we still have a lot to accomplish. I tell my children: if you don’t have the energy to start a small business in your spare time (i.e. while keeping your day job), then you may not have the energy to do it at all. It’s a good test because a business venture will consume you entirely during various stages of its development, so it must interest you at a very high level or you’ll find yourself looking for escape routes, which is never good for the business.
Favorite quote: Back to Teddy Roosevelt and his famous “it’s not the critic who counts” speech, where he discounts the views of the media and the critics and gives credit to the person who pursues the worthy cause. “The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly”.
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I enjoy playing poker. It’s a good fit for someone with strong math skills and quick risk assessment, which align with my background. It also makes me forget about everything else for a while, which is relaxing.
What makes someone fabulous: I don’t know. Maybe just anyone who is out of the ordinary in a good way. Life is an adventure. I’ve been fortunate to make my work life my adventure.