Archive for August, 2010

Cannon County schedules state’s first distillery referendum for November

August 29th, 2010 No comments

Commissioners Aug. 28, 2010 from CannonWire on Vimeo.

Somewhere around the 6 minute mark you can listen to the Cannon County Commission officially set the date of election for our distillery referendum for the November 2 general election. Video by the Cannon Wire. You can read their story here.

The Cannon Courier posted the full text of the ballot question before voters in November and are also running an online poll of how you’d vote today.

Cannon County Administrator of Elections Stan Dobson certified that enough signatures of registered voters had been obtained by the proponents of the measure.

Nine of the 10 county commissioners voted to place the items on the ballot, with Karen Ashford passing.

The question which voters will see on the ballot will be:

— To permit and legalize the manufacture of intoxicating liquors and other intoxicating drinks within the boundaries of Cannon County.

— Not to permit and legalize the manufacture of intoxicating liquors and other intoxicating drinks within the boundaries of Cannon County.

County Executive Mike Gannon said that if the question was not on the November ballot, the county would have to spend $10,000 to $15,000 in the spring of next year for a special election.

A portrait of community service and conviction

August 26th, 2010 2 comments

Jesse Shwayder

Every step we take to bring jobs and tourism to Cannon County we’re reminded of some very big shoes we have to fill.

The reminders come as fond memories folks share with us of working for Billy Kaufman’s grandfather and great-grandfather at Samsonite in Murfreesboro, TN.

The stories come from local officials, shop owners and farmers. They’re our neighbors, people we know and trust. If you ask around you are bound to know someone who made the daily trip to Murfreesboro to make a living for their family.

One of those neighbors is Harold Stembridge. When he heard Billy wanted to build a distillery on his Short Mountain farm, Harold put the word out through friends that he had something very special to share with Billy.

Harold has lived here all his life. He’s a farmer who now keeps bees, chickens and reindeer. When Harold was younger he worked in a t-shirt factory and wanted something better. His co-workers laughed when he left and told him he’d be back. Harold landed at Samsonite and ended up working for Billy’s grandfather for 34 years.

Harold remembers Samsonite like it was yesterday. For years he tried get the Cracker Barrel in Murfreesboro to hang a portrait of Samsonite founder Jesse Shwayder telling them this was the man who made Murfreesboro. The portrait hung in the lobby of the Samsonite factory greeting employees and visitors for years.

Harold told Billy when his great-grandfather would visit that he’d ask folks if they had their Golden Rule marble on them. If they did, he let them take a paid hour off work. Harold still has his Golden Rule marble to this day among some of his valuable treasures, a blue one with the Golden Rule inscribed on a golden band.

But Harold had one more treasured item he wanted to give to Billy. It’s the portrait of his great-grandfather Jesse, conservatively dressed with the Holy Bible firmly griped in his right hand.

An engraved brass plate at the bottom reads: “Jesse Shwayder, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Shwayder Bros., Inc., Taken on his 80th birthday March 26, 1962.” It’s a portrait of conviction, service and respect that reminds us what good people can do when we expect the very best from each other.

Billy Kaufman talks jobs and tourism with the Smithville Review

August 25th, 2010 No comments

Angie Meadows from the Smithville Review came out and interviewed Billy Kaufman on his Short Mountain farm about bringing jobs and tourism to Cannon County. The article above was clipped from today’s front page.

Voters will ultimately decide in November whether they want to allow a distillery to be built here under a new state law legalizing distilleries. Cannon County was once home to as many as 18 legal distilleries as reported by United States Census data prior to Prohibition.

There’s no rushing good flavor

August 21st, 2010 No comments

Lewis McEacharn at George Dickel

When Lewis McEacharn saw Billy Kaufman on the news this morning, he told his wife he wished he could meet these fellas trying to start that Short Mountain Distillery. You can imagine his surprise when we showed up at his place of work this morning.

McEacharn works at the George Dickel Distillery in Normandy, TN giving tours. We ended up getting a very nice private tour by Brandy (who reminded us she’s perfectly aware of the irony), but back in the gift shop, McEacharn thought he recognized Billy. He was right.

George Dickel DistilleryLike many folks we bump into, McEacharn is excited about the potential craft distillers have to share the rich history and vast recipes of legal moonshine. There’s a deep cultural connection people have with moonshine and other traditional American spirits.

McEacharn shared some old moonshine stories of his own, then took us aside to share some wisdom he gained distilling his own spirits as a younger man traveling the world.

McEarcharn took us to a display showing the basic distillation process and added something about flavor he learned through his own experience. You could see him tasting and smelling the mash by the look in his eyes and the movement of his hands as he described a critical process.

We’re definitely seeing a growing need to return the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people by providing a few private tours. Without giving away all of McEacharn’s advice, the bottom line is this. You can’t rush good flavor, and that’s good advice any way you look at it.

The Golden Rule: the foundational strength of an American brand

August 19th, 2010 5 comments

the Golden Rule marble100 years ago in 1910, Billy Kaufman’s great grandfather, Jesse Shwayder, founded an iconic American brand called Samsonite. Billy’s grandfather, Louis Degan, later brought Samsonite to Murfreesboro employing several Middle Tennesseans.

The quality of Samsonite’s products served a bustling nation on the move, and Jesse proudly built that company around an important core value: The Golden Rule.

Jesse shared this value by giving employees, vendors and even customers a marble made with the Golden Rule inscribed on a band encircling the marble. Jesse asked folks who received this special gift to consider the rule when making tough decisions.

On a small double-sided sheet of paper that came with each marble Jesse handed out was the following message.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." - New Testament, Matthew VII, 12 "We have found, for practical as well as moral reasons, the Golden Rule is the finest program we could adopt. The Golden Rule has more power than the atomic bomb. With its help, men still can work wonders." Jesse Shwayder Founder, Shwayder Tunk Mfg. Co. (Samsonite Corporation)

The Meaning of the Golden Rule Marble The Golden Rule marble, encircled with a band bearing the Golden Rule, was created by Jesse Shwayder as a symbol of the philosophy upon which he founded the Shwayder Trunk Mfg. Co. (Samsonite Corporation). Traditionally every new Samsonite employee receives a Golden Rule marble. Over the years this delicately inscribed sphere has served as a reminder not only to employees, but to customers and friends around the world of the universal doctrine, the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is the basic religious concept of all the earth's great religions. Moses handed it down to the children of Israel. Christ proclaimed it to his followers throughout the world. Buddha, Confucius, and Aristotle have their basic teachings in the Golden Rule. If the Golden Rule ideal were adopted by the nations of the world, perhaps the one great hope of mankind would be realized: Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Men.

To this day, businesses and church groups like the United Methodist Men continue this tradition. This 1965 TIME Magazine article described how applying the Golden Rule in business paid off for Samsonite.

The world’s largest manufacturer of luggage is named after the Bible’s powerful Samson. Its president has a name to match: King David. The firm’s official corporate philosophy is the Bible’s Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”* All company officers and salesmen carry a marble encircled by a gold band on which the Golden Rule is printed, take it out for inspiration when they have a business decision to make.

This philosophical approach — wedded to some pragmatic business practices—has paid off handsomely for Denver’s Samsonite Corp. The firm now accounts for more than a quarter of all U.S. luggage sold, and its sales last year reached a record $55.9 million. Last week, as orders from vacation-bound Americans flooded into Denver, Samsonite raised its 1965 sales estimate from $60 million to $64 million.

100 years later, Jesse’s great-grandchildren keep these marbles as a reminder of the values that helped their family build an iconic global brand in pursuit of the American dream.

The Golden Rule helps good neighbors build strong communities and is a prominent family value of the Kaufman brothers and the Short Mountain Distillery.

From water to shine on Short Mountain

August 18th, 2010 No comments

John Whittemore on FOX17Local farmers Billy Kaufman and John Whittemore spoke earlier today with WZTV Fox 17’s John Dunn. Skooter FarmDog even makes a cameo in this news clip.

In November, Cannon County voters will decide whether or not to allow a distillery to be built in the county. To Billy and John, it’s about honoring and preserving our way of life.

Up in the hills of Cannon County, Billy Kaufman hopes to turn water into shine.

“This water here is pure,” says Kaufman next to his mountain spring.

The organic farmer wants to open the Short Mountain Distillery here using old fashioned recipes for moonshine.

“One of the famous quotes for this area is without whiskey and baskets we all would have starved to death,” says Kaufman.

This November, Cannon County voters will have a referendum to decide if a distillery should be built here.

Kaufman promises at least a small number of jobs, and an increase in tourism.

“To me it’s about jobs and preserving our rural lifestyle,” says Billy Kaufman.

Short Mountain Distillery done right

August 18th, 2010 No comments

Billy Kaufman in the newsOne thing the new state law allowing distilleries won’t do is allow just anybody to set up a moonshine still in their backyard.

The Cannon Courier gave readers just a taste of the regulatory red tape Short Mountain Distillery and anyone else must go through before opening our doors to the public.

You can read the full list and links to other state laws that will govern how we will operate as a business at the Cannon Courier. Here’s an excerpt:

1. $300 Application Fee (Non refundable – Must Accompany Application)
2. $1,000.00 Annual License Fee
3. Distillery Application. Downloadable Form AB-0034
4. Questionnaire (Form AB-0009) (each owner, partner or officer)
5. Approval by the local government for the location.
6. Copy of Lease and/or Deed, or other document evidencing possession or right to possess the physical premises or real property for the proposed location.
7. Federal Special Tax Stamp Registration.
8. Copy of all loan contracts.
9. Financial background check of applicant.
10. Credit check from banking/lending institution.

Billy Kaufman talks distillery jobs and tourism for Cannon County

August 17th, 2010 2 comments

Billy Kaufman and Distillery Organization Group’s Jim Massey talk with News Channel 5’s Kim Gebbia about distillery jobs and tourism on the November ballot in Cannon County. You can read the full story at WTVF-TV CBS Nashville.

Billy Kaufman’s property hasn’t seen a drop of grain liquor since a distillery ran here before prohibition. He wants to see it flowing again at his own craft distillery within the next few years.

“My dream is that we employ hundreds if not thousands someday,” said Kaufman.

Supporters say a craft distillery could also bring in tax dollars and tourism to the county. They add it’s a way to keep small farmers afloat.

“Historically distilleries are the most efficient way to turn crops to cash,” says Jim Massey, an advocate for craft distilleries across the state.

Jobs and tourism are on the November ballot in Cannon County

August 11th, 2010 3 comments

We just got word from Cannon County Administrator of Elections Stanley Dobson that our distillery petition has enough signatures and will qualify for the November 2, 2010 ballot. The certified petition will be presented to a special session of the county commission Aug. 28.

This will be Tennessee’s first distillery referendum under a new state law making it legal for distilleries to operate across the state. The new law requires a referendum process in counties where there is no liquor by the drink or package stores.

The referendum process has been a wonderful opportunity for us to meet voters and to hear their stories and their pride in our history. It’s also been an eye-opener to what we need to preserve our way of life and that’s jobs and tourism.

In November’s general election, Cannon County voters can now vote YES for jobs and tourism.

Over the next couple of months we hope you can help us give voters a reason to be proud of our agricultural heritage and what a new American brand of distilled spirits can do for community and our state.

Also read:

Special session called to address distillery referendum

August 9th, 2010 3 comments

Today’s Cannon Courier reports that County Executive Mike Gannon has called a special session of the County Commission for August 28th to address the state’s first distillery referendum. The election commission is currently in the process of validating and certifying the petition signatures we turned in last week.

Cannon County Administrator of Elections Stan Dobson was in the process Monday morning of certifying the signatures on the petition for the referendum, which was presented to him Friday by a group of citizens hoping to start Short Mountain Distillery.

The election office must certify that the petition contains the names of 10 percent or more of the qualified voters of Cannon County, based upon the number of votes cast in the 2008 presidential election, according to state law.

The group turned in over 800 signatures Friday. According to the election office, 554 were needed to hold a referendum.

However, before a referendum can be held, the petition must be received by the Cannon County Commission. Commissioners will not vote on whether the referendum will take place, only that they have received a petition for one which contains the required number of signatures from registered county voters.

If certified, this will be the state’s first distillery referendum under a new law and will allow voters to decide whether they want jobs, tourism and revenue that will come with a new American brand of distilled spirits started right here in Cannon County.