How A Texas Oil Guy Built A World-Class Vodka Company Worth $2.5 Billion
When you think of vodka, the first brands that may come to your mind are Smirnoff from Russia, Absolut from Sweden, Grey Goose from France, Finlandia from Finland, Ketel One from the Netherlands or Belvedere from Poland. However, one of the most popular vodkas in recent years is Tito’s Vodka. There are many reasons that Tito’s Vodka popularity is rather shocking, for one, it is not made in Europe, but rather Texas, which is not exactly known for being a vodka hotspot. Another surprising fact about Tito’s Vodka is that it doesn’t have a centuries-old history. Tito’s Vodka only began commercial production in 1997 under the company Fifth Generation, and only 20 years later this spirits company has an extraordinary worth of $2.5 billion. The guy who made it all happen is actually not named Tito, but instead, his name is Bert Beveridge, a guy who spent a good amount of his life in the oil business.
You would think with a last name like “Beveridge,” that Bert would have been born to be in the spirits industry. However, Bert enrolled at Vanderbilt for a year and then attended the University of Texas at Austin where he majored in geology and geophysics. After he graduated, he began a career in the oil and gas industry. Soon after, he left Texas to work in oil-rich Venezuela and Colombia. He came back home and started a drilling company in Houston. In the early 1990s, he ditched the drilling rigs for a mortgage business.
With his free time during his mortgage work, Bert started making flavored vodkas and he gave his boozy concoctions to his friends as Christmas gifts. Bert explains the first time that he ever considered selling his vodka.
“That was in about I guess ’92, ’93. I was at a party one time and a stranger came up to me and said ‘Hey you’re the vodka guy’ and I was like no, contraire, I am the mortgage guy. And that’s when I kinda started thinking that this guy’s telling me I need to go sell my flavored vodkas and this was the first time I really started thinking seriously about it.”