Maker's Mark

Babson Professor Kathleen Seiders, Case Director

Andrea Allyse, Case Writer

Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship

© Babson College, 1999.


Family members of a 50-year-old small Kentucky distillery of fine bourbon try to deal with an inter-generational struggle on how to grow the company. The founder of the company abhors modern marketing and advertising techniques, preferring word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers. His son, knowing the effectiveness of advertising, tries to pull his father into the twentieth century with little success. Unexpectedly, as the generations try to resolve their differences, the Wall Street Journal writes a front-page story about the virtues of the company's bourbon. Sales boom and the father takes a softer line and agrees to advertise in the Wall Street Journal and a few other high-income print publications. The company is eventually sold to a major distributor but keeps the family employed in the production process. The next issue the family confronts is how to preserve the quality of the product as increased sales result in a need for more production facilities.

Location of the company: Kentucky

Years spanned by the case: 1954-1999

Industry segments: alcohol, spirits

Stage of the company: mature

Age of the entrepreneurs: 50's

Key Words: entrepreneurship, alcohol, marketing, international business, family business, advertising


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