The Company You Keep

Husk Distillers

Paul Messenger, Owner of rum manufacturer Husk Distillers never thought he'd get free promotion from one of Hollywood's biggest stars. But what started out as an innocent social media post has led to big business.

Tune in to hear from Paul about the challenges of learning the ropes when you're starting out, how to take a chance with innovation and the importance of diversifying your business.

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Husk Distillers

Starting a business is always a leap of faith, but how do you start a business from scratch? It isn’t easy, but as Paul Messenger and Husk Distillers show: it can be done. 

Inspired by the sugarcane industry in his local state of Queensland, Paul investigated what it would take to make rum – and ended up buying a farm with six tonnes of sugarcane to cut. 

In this episode of The Company You Keep, Paul details why starting a business from scratch takes hard work, and research. Paul had to get approval from the local council, and state and federal government, which took 18 months. Soil studies, ecological studies, the works. 

His secret to starting a business from scratch? When you’re starting out: seek advice from the experts, don’t go in blind. “We've been fortunate in the Tweed Valley here that we've got access to a lot of really skilled and talented people who are very good with machinery.” 

The company got a shock one day when actress Margot Robbie published a photo of herself on Instagram drinking their product, Ink Gin. “You couldn’t buy that sort of thing,” says Paul.

There are technical challenges to farming. The company nearly got wiped out in 2017 due to a flood – losing $100,00 worth of stock and equipment. But it bounced back, thanks to some key relationships with suppliers built up over those years.

Another key part of the company’s success, Paul says, is tapping into local government and membership resources. Paul uses My Business to stay on top of HR, recruiting and workplace legislation.

“Just helping guide us through the regulations and legislation to ensure that we're doing everything by the book and not making any mistakes,” he says. As Paul shows, starting a business from scratch is difficult – but if you build relationships and do your research, you’ll succeed. 

Disclaimer: Our guests are real business owners and their experiences are their true stories. The guests express views and opinions that are from their own learnings and insights.

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