Building A 100 Million Dollar Business During Covid
- Blue Marble Productions
- PUBLISHED: 03.25.2021
An Interview With Alan Miller & Danyelle Rabine Founders of Blue Marble Productions, Inc. & Blue Marble Cocktails, Inc.
New couples don’t often start new companies shortly after they begin dating, yet that is exactly what Alan Miller and Danyelle Rabine did. Not long after beginning a relationship the new couple founded Blue Marble Cocktails, a ready to drink cocktail brand. And shortly after that Miller founded Blue Marble Productions, Inc. Miller & Rabine have grown Blue Marble Productions and Blue Marble Cocktails into powerhouse companies.
Alan, I want to focus on Blue Marble Productions with you to begin with. After starting Blue Marble Cocktails, what led to expanding into drink production and working with other companies in 2019?
We started with Blue Marble Cocktails and planned on using a co-packer to make the drinks for us. After seeing what was out there, I decided we had to build our own facility.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have made dog food in the facilities I saw. My career had been building high-tech surgical lasers with lots of regulatory and traceability. You can find my lasers in over 100 countries and wanted to build a high-tech, state-of-the-art facility to produce our cocktails.
I never imagined that the biggest alcohol companies in the world would approach me to make their products. We started off small with 20,000 sq. feet, expanded to 32,000 sq. feet and now are in our new facility which is almost 200,000 sq. feet and we are already in the middle of expanding to 300,000 sq. feet.
Companies found out just how good and complicated our drinks are and trust us to make theirs. I could not be prouder of what we have built.
Blue Marble opened a new state-of-the-art facility in late 2020, which completely changed the game. It opened up the company’s business opportunities and has led to working with major beverage brands.
Can you tell us about the growth the company has experienced since adding the production side of the business to its portfolio?
Well what started as “all about Blue Marble cocktails” has completely changed into Blue Marble Productions as the tip of our spear.
Most of our growth is from productions versus cocktails and our year-over-year growth is staggering at an 800%+ increase in revenues. Seems like everyone is fighting to find qualified co-packers.
The amount of business we have brought in has been nothing short of staggering. COVID has shown just how bomb proof our industry is, while others have been shutting down we have been growing.
Blue Marble Productions represents 93% of our revenue income and it continues to grow. At times, it has been challenging for the team to stay on my accelerated entrepreneurial pace of growth and expansion, but we have done it while maintaining quality and producing excellent beverages.
We are considered a premier facility that specializes in some of the most complex alcohol and non-alcohol beverages in the world.
We have added every level of revenue expansion we can including: lab services, private label, small batch test services, can sleeving services, 3 PL services and even regulatory, legal and sales/marketing support. All of which can be found in-house.
In October, Blue Marble opened a new state-of-the-art facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. The new factory is canning drinks for some of the world’s biggest brands. What impact has the new factory had on the company already? How important was it to open the new canning plant for the business’s growth?
The impact has been substantial to our business. It is proof that when you jump on opportunities they can pay off in a big way.
By reinvesting profits from our co-packing side of our business into our beverage business, it is allowing us growth without debt. From the inception, I set Blue Marble to function as a Fortune 500 company. Bringing the right team into the company was imperative.
People that I hired in the beginning were good for our first steps, but weren’t capable to get us to the next level.
Top-grading talent is ongoing daily at Blue Marble. I am a firm believer with some direction and the right people you can move mountains.
It is not easy to work with some of the largest companies in the world without good attorneys, good MRP systems and good QMS/SOPs in place.
Fortunately, we have all 3. We have run things like SAP day 1 to give us the traceability we needed, installed world-class laboratories, and have top talent including PhDs in house to ensure spectacular products.
Can you tell us about the future expansion of Blue Marble into the malt and wine co-packing area?
We have already obtained our federal vintners, malt and spirits licenses, along with non-alcoholic beverages.
We are one of the few companies that can strip RO water properly and have set ourselves up for lots of flexibility with clients including carbonation and nitrogen dosing. By adding wine and malt it allows us to service the huge demand for seltzers.
According to Alan, not only has Blue Marble has been a financial success, but it has enabled his relationship with Danyelle to grow. Working side-by-side to build the company, the couple have found their love to be stronger than ever.
Alan, what was it like to found a company with your girlfriend and build it side by side?
It has been an amazing journey for Danyelle and me. It has had its challenges. Most people probably couldn’t survive working with their significant other, but Danyelle is and continues to be my rock when I need it and vice versa.
I am used to starting companies and building them but it was new for Danyelle. The stress and strains can be overwhelming and trust me when I say we have had our moments with each other.
At the end of the day, I am grateful for what we have built together. Our relationship is stronger than ever and we have enjoyed building a world-class company together.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am an adrenaline junkie and am a multi-national and pro racing champion in jetskiing and race cars. You are likely to find me on a race track, kitesurfing or doing something extreme and challenging.
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would empty the world’s oceans of trash. I love water sports and it sickens me how much we are polluting our world and killing our reefs and ocean life.
Alan, is there anything else you would like to add?
I am grateful to all of the people that have believed in me, supported me through thick and thin.
Blue Marble continues to grow leaps and bounds. From producing ready to drink cocktails to canning products for some of the biggest beverage companies in the world, it has truly been a tale of success for Alan and Danyelle.
The company’s prosperity should hit even greater heights in the coming years as more individuals around the globe are exposed to the great tasting cocktails available from the brand. But it isn’t just the cocktails that will see the company excel. Its manufacturing facility in Indiana provides even more financial benefits, enabling Blue Marble Cocktails to thrive in the ready to drink cocktail sector. The company produces cocktails, seltzers, vodka, and water. While making RTD cocktails and beverages is Blue Marble’s main focus, the company has branched out into canning products for some of the world’s top beverage businesses thanks to its state-of-the-art facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. The environmentally-focused company is thriving and expects even greater things in the near future.
Danyelle, how did you (and Alan) begin Blue Marble Cocktails? How did the company go from a simple ready-to-mix cocktail brand into a major company with multiple drinks and flavors?
We both enjoy cocktails and love to entertain but we were frustrated with the limited options of ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages or organic, gluten free mixers which many contained artificial dyes and sweeteners and honestly tasted terrible.
We really enjoy a bartender quality cocktail wherever we are and have been known to be the bartenders at our own gatherings because most people just don’t know how to make a well-balanced drink.
We wanted to take the guess work out of making premium cocktails that you know and love and put them in a recyclable package that doesn’t change the flavor, make them ready to enjoy when you desire a great cocktail. We always knew that we would expand the line to other products and still have recipes that we have yet to launch.
The “seltzer” trend has been growing in the United States for well over the last four years. While countries in Europe are yet to experience the popularity of hard seltzer drinks, Blue Marble Cocktails aims to bring the rest of the world the thriving American trend. Since 2016, hard seltzer drinks sales have grown “on a triple-digit basis” in the US alone and Blue Marble Cocktails has been a part of that incredible growth.
The “seltzer” trend seems to be driving a lot of interest in pre-made cocktails. This trend seems to be very much a North American one at the moment. Why is the seltzer trend so popular right now? Does Blue Marble have plans to expand into other parts of the world in the coming year(s)?
The seltzer craze here in the U.S. reminds us of the craft beer industry a decade ago being driven by the younger consumers. The premiumization of spirits, wine and beer has influenced consumers to be more willing to spend more on higher-quality beverages and appreciate when brands care for the environment and give back to communities.
Seltzers are a bubbly beverage that have less calories, sugar and alcohol which appeals to many who are looking for those qualities in a cocktail.
Since we already had our canned water and have carbonated cocktails like our Vodka Soda and Moscow Mule, it made sense for us to add the seltzer line to our portfolio. Currently, we are engaged in other foreign market discussions and have our cocktails placed on major cruise lines, in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda.
In 2020, two of Blue Marble’s beverages, Mojito and Lightly Spiked Seltzer, won awards. How important is winning awards in the beverage industry? In 2020, two of Blue Marble’s beverages, Mojito and Lightly Spiked Seltzer, won awards. How important is winning awards in the beverage industry? Do awards like these often end in increased growth or is it more about the industry recognizing your success?
The company’s top selling cocktail flavor is Cosmo, with a close second being Mojito. Across the nation, we have found that there are favorites, and some flavors sell more than others so it’s advantageous that we can offer what the people want.
Flavor development has been done inhouse with Alan and I, and our food scientist(s). We have so many ideas and flavor profiles but ultimately, our goal is to always be true to making a drink that we would proudly offer to our family and friends and would drink ourselves. The consumers are the real judges.
Blue Marble is a family company. Can you tell us how its family values contribute to the company’s success and ability to deliver high-quality cocktails to customers?
Family values like love, loyalty and respect are important. For many family businesses, it is not the easiest to work together as the dynamics can be tricky to navigate between family and business life.
I would say that within Blue Marble, we all have our different roles that we excel in and therefore can celebrate each other’s successes and support each other when we need it. I wanted to know that I left a legacy to pass on to generations to come and a family memory that we did this together; whether that is in hard work, the hustle, being a mentor, creating jobs for others, or just the simpleness of working together to build something remarkable and having some fun during the journey.
The world has been gripped by COVID-19 since early 2020. Some sectors have been hit hard financially. Has the cocktail/alcohol industry been hit as hard as others by the virus?
COVID-19 has been life changing for many, including Blue Marble and the alcohol industry. Overall, the alcohol industry was negatively impacted as liquor stores, venues, cruise lines, amusement parks, hotels, restaurants and more were shut down.
Most of our brand was available at these on-premise locations and our sales reflected the shutdown.
Direct to consumer delivery platforms, however, saw a rocket increase in alcohol sales as people were able to buy booze, including Blue Marble. While businesses are doing everything they can to safely reopen, there is a substantial interest in our single-serve cocktail offerings and we experienced a 25% increase in the Blue Marble beverage brand year over year. Additionally, Blue Marble Productions, as planned, grew and moved locations last year.
We were able to grow in our canning capabilities exponentially as a wave of beverage brands knocked on our doors to make canned beverages. Gratefully, we were one of the companies considered essential to keep our business open.
Blue Marble is a company with a conscience and that is why it donates time and money to various causes. One cause that the company is focused on is the cleaning up of beaches to keep them usable for future generations.
Danyelle, Blue Marble has focused on giving back and helping various causes. The company supports causes like 4-Ocean. Can you tell us about the causes the company supports and why you selected these?
Blue Marble name is also the term used to describe the planet earth. We couldn’t start a company without having a give back component, so we implemented the “Keep The Blue Marble Blue®” program with the intention to give back to organizations that align with protecting and preserving the Blue Marble. This is also why we use all-natural ingredients and source environmentally conscious materials and packaging. It’s the least we can do the planet we love and for the future generations.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am from a small town, with a city-girl, boss-lady ambitions. I was the first one in my family to go to college and fund it myself. I am a very resilient and strong woman and have overcome many challenging life obstacles.
Thankfully, it is with my positive nature and constant desire to learn that keeps me focused on a healthy and prosperous life. For fun, I love baking, cooking, driving race cars and spending time with my friends and family.
Can you share your favorite quote with us?
“If you want to fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” ~ Toni Morrison
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