David Dafoe - CEO and Founder of Distilled Spirits Epicenter in the Lab

The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet has announced the 2016 Small Business Person of the Year winners from all 50 states and territories. One of this year’s winner’s falls smack dab in the heart of the distilled craft spirits movement, that’s David Dafoe, Founder and CEO of Flavorman and Distilled Spirits Epicenter in Louisville, KY. The complete 2016 Small Business Administration list of winners is below.

The Distilled Spirits Epicenter
Distilled Spirits Epicenter

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Dafoe founded Pro-Liquitech International in 1992 after being employed at the Brown-Forman, where he developed many new products. Pro-Liquitech evolved into Flavorman, an international custom beverage production company. Its client list includes internationally known brands and some of the world’s largest distilleries. Flavorman secured three SBA loans to grow the business and relocate near downtown Louisville, kick-starting a revitalization of the area.

In 2012, he founded Flavorman’s sister company, the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, on the Flavorman campus. The Distilled Spirits Epicenter is actually made up of three businesses under one roof.

  1. Moonshine University offers technical training and business management education for start-ups, industry professionals, and those looking for careers in the distilling industry.
  2. Grease Monkey Distillery is a used in conjunction with Moonshine University, providing hands-on learning for students of the craft. It’s designed for use by everyone, from entrepreneurs to industry experts, and is equipped to distill spirits of all kinds.
  3. Challenge Bottling is a custom built bottling line to service producers with low volume needs. Its bottling line is designed to handle both alcohol and non-alcohol products.

Grease Monkey Distillery and Moonshine University
Moonshine University Pot Still

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Moonshine Flavor Testing in Flavorman Lab

Though developing drinks behind major brands for global companies is a gateway to notoriety, client confidentiality is integral to Flavorman’s excellent reputation in the industry. Flavorman makes custom beverages for clients. Many of those clients prefer not to disclose who does their beverage development work, and that is a decision Dafoe respects and supports. “So even though I can’t tell you most of the drinks we’ve developed, I can guarantee you’ve enjoyed something we’ve made.”

“Flavorman and Distilled Spirits Epicenter is a wonderful example of a small business using different SBA programs to grow profitably and create jobs. We admire Mr. Dafoe’s vision, tenacity and leadership,” said Ralph Ross, SBA Kentucky District Director. He continued, “I am amazed each year at the accomplishments of all of our small business award winners.”

In making the announcement, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said: “It is my distinct pleasure and honor to announce the 54 winners from across the U.S. and her territories.  These small business owners represent the best of the best and showcase daily their entrepreneurial spirit and what it takes to be successful in today’s evolving and competitive business environment.”

All of the winners have been invited to attend ceremonies in Washington, D.C on May 1-2 where they will be awarded their individual awards along with recognition of the runners-up and the naming of the 2016 National Small Business Person of the Year.

Flavorman and the Distilled Spirits Epicenter have 30 full time and four part time employees.

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2016 Small Business Person of the Year Winners (Sort-able)

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