It sometimes happens to us. Like once or twice every quarter. Someone is starting a new distillery and needs equipment. Somewhere along the way they heard about iStill, so they decide to email us and ask for a quotation. We don’t do blind quotations, so we propose a video call for proper introductions, and to make sure we understand what the new distiller needs. It allows us to give sound advise and feedback on if and how we can best be of assistance.
But, as mentioned above, it sometimes happens that the start-up (or their “consultant”) just wants a quote. “We’ll compare the quotes and decide which one is most affordable!” Yeah, right, and that’s exactly the reason we do not quote blindly. Not because we do not think anyone is entitled to the most affordable solution, but quite simply because there is a huge difference between Value and Affordability.
Affordability is about price. It is what the seller asks for his product. Who knows why? Probably to cover his costs and to make some profit along the way, but who really knows? Price is a given and one item can be priced higher or lower than another item.
Similarity of the items is important. Only similar items can be judged on affordability. If I need a gallon of milk, it may cost me 2 bucks in one shop and 3 in another. If the milk is of the same quality and freshness, well, then the cheaper one is clearly more affordable and should be considered.
But how about pasteurized milk vs. fresh milk? How do we go about comparing a gallon of pasteurized milk vs. a gallon of fresh milk? What if the first costs two dollars or Euro’s and the second one three? A comparison on affordability will make everyone choose for the pasteurized version. But is cheaper always better? Asking that question brings Value in play.
Value does not equal price. Or at least it does not equal the price the seller wants for the product. Value is about what the product means to you. Let’s migrate from the dairy oriented example back to the craft distilling industry.
Say you think craft is about tradition and romance and doing everything by yourself manually. You are considering a beautiful copper still from Germany. Your business plan teaches you that you need a 2000 liter capacity still, so you ask for a quote. The quote comes in at 200k. You now ask iStill for a quote for their iStill 2000. That quote comes in at 100k. From an Affordability perspective, your choice is clear: the iStill is the more affordable option and should be purchased. But how much do you value the ideas of copper and tradition and intensive manual labor (cleaning not being the last). Maybe this has a value for you that’s bigger than 100k, in which case you’ll probably convince yourself to go for the traditional German still and spend the extra 100k.
What if you feel that craft distilling is a business, and you want to spend and manage your money intelligently. You do appreciate quality and understand that process control and being able to repeatedly produce consistent flavor profiles are essential. You ask iStill for a quote and it is 100k. You ask a traditional Chinese manufacturer for a quote and it is 60k. What do you choose? It all depends on how much you value the additional value the iStill brings you.
The way we work
We do not blindly quote you. We insist on talking to you so that we can establish what you want, what you “value”. Only if we understand what you need, can we inform you about what we offer.
We might think we offer great value (and we do), but does that equal “value” to you? Only if we can discuss how process control and automation save you time and money, while improving both yield and spirit quality, can you establish if we are the right value proposition for you. Only if we can learn what products you want to make, are we able to advise you on what options suit you. Only if we understand why you might have been attracted to traditional copper stills (is it the myths people told you or is it the look that appeals to you), can we inform you if our technology will serve you to your satisfaction.
Value goes beyond affordability. A company is more than an investment. A still is more than a price tag. If your values correspond with our values, we’ll probably both find our business relationship rewarding or even inspiring. If you reduce your decisions to a price tag, to “affordability”, you do yourself and the creator whom’s products you want to purchase a big injustice. An injustice that usually comes at a hefty price tag. Like you selecting the wrong supplier or us selecting the wrong customer to do business with.
I hope you value our approach. Based on close to a decade of experience, interacting with very different customers and distillers from all over the world, I find our approach adds value to the point of it being priceless! 😉
Regards, Drs. H.E.J. (Odin) van Eijk, MScBA, etc.
Founder, owner, and CEO of iStill.