Long & Co Westpac Event The Earp family is synonymous with entrepreneurship. Their latest venture became our backdrop, hosting some special guests on behalf of one of our leading banks. Join us in our talk about gin, business and the importance of reinvention.

Why did you go from a tile company to a distilling company?  

Reinvention is paramount. Our family started in imports in 1883. We imported spirits, locomotives and the first Ford automobiles. More recently we have been importing tiles from Spain. The tile business is a good business but our heritage is to look around corners to see what is coming next. Distilling caught our eye. It is easy to think that the grass is greener, and we have certainly experienced this is a lot harder than what we initially expected.

Tell us what it is like to work with your family:  

Working with your family is very personal. Sometimes you don’t really want to share the challenges with others outside of the family because they are so personal. 

Respect is incredibly important. Within our business, there are 3 brothers involved in the family owned business. One of my brothers, Richard, and I would have board meetings going back 20 years ago where we would have massive arguments in front of our team. Time and feedback taught us such conduct didn’t do anyone any good.

In business you need partnership and trust. Family gives you that. Where others might leave you questioning their intent, family will have eachothers backs.

Talk to us about your approach to branding in this new business?  

The Earp tile business is well known in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle for mid to premium range tiles. We had an existing brand name and a heritage to draw on.  This became our foundation to enter the distilling market under our family name, positioning our products in that more premium segment. We also use ceramic bottles, which is a nod to our tile business while helping the product stand out on the shelf.

What has the journey been like so far?

The first 12 months was the planning stage. It seemed like a lot of hard work at the time, but it has been the past 12 months actually building this that has been the back breaking work. We won an award for a top 10 tasting gin only 5 weeks after launch and are ahead of budget. So while we have a lot of ground to cover yet, we are very happy with where things are at.

Michael Earp talks with Cat Long. Photos by Zuela Photography

Where to next? 

We see a lot of blue sky ahead. We are in an oligopoly, but we can see this changing over time. The change that’s happened in craft beer is happening in distilling, where more and smaller players are coming into the market. One of our benefits is our agility in our production line. We can make a change literally overnight. It is our agility and adaptability which will see this next chapter of our Earp family flourish.

A special thank you to Westpac for initiating this event.

Earp Distilling

Established in 1883 in Newcastle on Australia’s East Coast, the Earp family company has grown and adapted to the needs of many generations of Australians. Now open in the port-side suburb of Carrington, Earp Distilling Co. offers spirits to connoisseurs, the curious and everyone in between.

Long & Co

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