Jim Beam

This past weekend, I toured the Jim Beam distillery with my wife.  It was an amazing experience.  Seeing the process behind the business was eye opening.  The success they have had is almost hard to fathom.  During their 200 year history, they have survived the civil war, two world wars, prohibition, and several other historic and economic events that have crippled or destroyed other companies.  Since the trip, I have been trying to think about what has made them so successful.  Here are a few thoughts to ponder.  First, they found a successful formula and have consistently made that product.  Their process from beginning to end has been updated to take advantage of technology, but their product remains consistent.  A bottle of Jim Beam 50 years ago, will taste the same as a bottle today.  Second, they have looked for ways to expand their market without diluting their brand.  I didn’t realize Knob Creek and Red Stag fell under the Jim Beam portfolio, but they have used these to expand and target other customers.  Even though, they have expanded into other products, they haven’t forgotten what has made them successful.  Bottom line, they have expanded, but not at the expense of their primary product.  Third, they are serious about quality.  They test throughout the process to ensure it meets their specifications and their customers’ expectations.  One thing I saw that surprised me was that on the bottling line they posted metrics (broken down by employee) on productivity and efficiency.  I believe that some of the same principles that have made Jim Beam successful can be applied to other industries to survive and thrive.

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