AMAZING TAP HANDLES!!!

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Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

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Photos or tap descriptions used in this blog may not be misrepresented as your own. Photos may not be used for financial gain whatsoever, as the uniqueness of the photo would unfairly associate a seller's product and reputation with this site. Tap descriptions may be used word for word as long as this blog is cited as the source, and a link is provided to this site.

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Failure to follow the guidelines above is a violation of Copyright Law, which protects original works of ownership.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tap Manufacturer Profile: An Interview With East Coast Taps



In the first entry of a new blog feature, I've reached out to tap manufacturer East Coast Taps (ECT), whose tap designs are generating a lot of buzz right now. I struck a deal with ECT and will be giving away one of their mancave taps in a contest that will start on Wednesday - look for an official announcement regarding the contest on Tuesday.

Audra Quintin of ECT was gracious enough to agree to an interview and I hope you find it an enjoyable read. Providing ample amounts of savvy, passion and humor, she is a pleasure to talk to and makes for a great interview.

I'll be talking more about ECT during the rest of this week. You can visit their website here (which will be getting a major update in a couple of weeks) and their Facebook page here.

Click through to read the interview...


Question are posed by myself (Amazing Tap Handles, ATH), and answered by Audra Quintin of East Coast Taps (ECT).


ATH: How did East Coast Taps come into being? Can you tell us about the company’s history so far?

ECT: The being of East Coast Taps is quite a unique story. After wrapping up my undergrad at Seton Hall University I moved home to Wilbraham, MA. The job search was dismal and I needed a summer job in the interim. I stumbled upon Paddy’s Irish Pub as a bartender and at the time it felt like a defeated move, however it was the best thing I’ve ever done. While I was working at the bar I decided to go back to school for my MBA in October. During the fall season we had a beer on tap that was hot to our patrons, it was Honkers Ale from Goose Island. Where is this story going you ask? Let me tell you...we had a group of girls come in on a Saturday evening and all of them ordered Goose Island, I went over to my manager Blake Bryan (current business partner) and said “Blake, of all the beer we have on draft why is Honkers killing it?!” He responded with…”I think I can make those taps…but better…” From there the rest is history. I then went into my MBA with East Coast Taps and spent the duration networking, researching and collecting data strictly on the industry. Once we realized the beer tap market was in demand and the key players were nearly saturated we geared up and got moving.


ATH: East Coast Taps is obviously geographically located on the East Coast. Do you have the capability to support other parts of the country or are you primarily focused locally?

ECT: When we started the business our focus was to start local then expand, our cards were drawn opposite. Our first clients were from outside our small radius, it created a learning curve for us that we embraced. In this business any problem is a good problem, it leaves room to educate ourselves and grow, we never make the same mistake twice. We put a huge emphasis on the local vibe, but we’ve managed to measure ourselves with intake appropriately and market to what we can handle. If we have a client approach us outside of our scalability, we will deliver and find a way to make it work.


ATH: Who do you see as your core customers?

ECT: To us, this question is vague. Our customers vary from an array of people. Our target ranges anywhere from microbreweries, craft brews or home brews on a local, regional or national scale. The other portion of core customers targets man caves (or woman caves!), one-offs, bars and restaurants and everything in between. Beer does not discriminate, it is a welcoming industry with an overabundance of participants...the craft beer market has grown over 19% since 2009 and to us, that is a beautiful thing. This is giving opportunity across the country for people to share their passion while the rest of us call it “work.”


ATH: You’ve told me that ECT is in it for the long haul with your customers. How do you go about building those relationships?

ECT: Three in five businesses fail within the first five years - what a sad statistic - but the reason is because of this: start-up companies that have money as the end goal will fail. Start-up companies that have solving a market need as the end goal will succeed. At the end of every single product is a person, an individual and that requires a relationship. Some of our clients we haven’t done work with in a full year, but we can tell you every move they’ve made, every beer they’ve launched and every detail of their brewery. Why? We maintain relationships, it’s our thing. We keep in contact with every single client we’ve had, most of which we form a partnership with and continue working together. Social media is free - we utilize it. If you’re a past client and we see something awesome, you bet we’re going to share it, send you an email or give you a shout out because that is great!


ATH: Why is Point of Sale (defined as the tap on draft at a bar, brewpub or restaurant) so important to a brewery?

ECT: Point of sale is extremely important to a brewery because POS is when the consumer comes into contact with your product. Unfortunately the brewer's intangible passion for their beer cannot sell directly to the consumer...the harsh reality of being on draft is that your POS is the leverage for retention in terms of competition. Once your POS has locked in the consumer, your passion can then be shared. A few key reasons to explore the creativity and opportunity of POS are these:

First: For most beer enthusiasts, visiting a bar with 30, 40 or even 100 craft beers on draft is a qualifier for a diverse and exciting experience. For average beer drinkers, the options are actually quite intimidating. An enthusiast selects a unique one-of-a-kind brew carefully by their ‘seemingly insider’ knowledge, while the average beer consumer goes with either what’s familiar to them OR what stands out.

Second: Weak point of sale marketing and a lack of strong brand equity for the brewer is actually limiting sales, stunting momentum and forcing local-only distribution based on weak demand as a result of a closed landscape. We have recognized the massive opportunity in serving the gap between where a brewery’s expertise ends, and where marketing and branding experts need to take over.

Third: 86% of the largest population of beer drinkers (between the ages of 21-35) said they chose their brew for two reasons. 1) The style brew. 2) The branding (your tap)!

Fourth: Studies have shown there is a direct correlation between the consumer’s eye and the brewery’s tap handle, which means that the further away a brewery goes from a standard “wooden stick with a label” tap, the more inviting the beer will be and become selected by the average drinker. Just like any marketing, the more attractive something is, the more attention it gets - in our case, more beer sales. 

The most important key feature is that an engaging tap handle that draws bar patron's attention will sell more beer. Period. Since custom taps aren’t readily available in the market, most brewers opt for standard taps which causes a trickle effect that stunts sales growth.


ATH: How does ECT provide branding for a company?

ECT: On the exterior East Coast Taps is a custom design beer tap and manufacturing company, right? Well, kind of. On the interior we are a full blown branding company, other than your typical forms of inbound and outbound marketing this is an exciting opportunity for a brewery to be visually recognized. If we do not carry out a client’s brand the best we can, no one wins. ECT’s pit is made up of innovation, branding, passion and, well, beer. We have tools for branding which include things like coasters, glassware and out-of-the-box promotional items. Because we dig into a partnership with our clients our branding does not stop at the tap, it continues onto our social media platforms, website blogs and any ECT marketing where we utilize our client’s product. Basically, we like to take a load off your back because you provide us with a product that alleviates the load on ours. 


ATH: We’ve talked about companies - but you also do one-offs and man-cave taps, how does that work?

A custom mancave tap
ECT: This sector of our business is unique because the opportunities are limitless. For example, we’ll have a potential client reach out to us to create a custom beer tap for their mancave. On our end we say, “so what do you like, what are your interests, tell us a bit about yourself.” From there the brainstorming happens, once we get some concrete ideas down we will make your hobby, passion or interests come to life. One-offs are super fun for our artists because there is wiggle room for creativity, most one-offs want to go full speed ahead and integrate all the neat tricks we can do. 


ATH: What kind of materials and features can you incorporate into a tap?

ECT: East Coast Taps is a young company made up of innovators, artists, designers and talent. We try to integrate new-era tap technology into our beer taps such as LED lighting, mechanical movement or sound - while obviously keeping it classy. The material we use for our beer taps is super light, super durable and very inexpensive. There is no beer tap we can’t make and there are no limits, it’s 2014, being up with technology and up to date tools is key.


ATH: What do you believe is ECT’s biggest strength? Biggest accomplishment?

ECT: To ask ‘what our biggest strength is’ is vague. If we had to narrow it down we would say our overall strength is the value we put on being personable. Our clients put their brand in our hands, they need to feel comfortable and secure if we don’t build an honest personal relationship, how can they gain those feelings?!

Our biggest accomplishment is within the past few months. We’ve recently moved into a bigger facility, we’ve hired employees, we have five interns and we’ve been recognized all along the coast through clients, business inquiries and marketing!


ATH: East Coast Tap’s production of Stark taps is white hot right now and getting a lot of attention. Do you have any other clients on the pipeline?

ECT: We owe a lot to Stark Brewing, they were the first large brewery to give East Coast Taps a chance, they put their taps in our hands completely and every time we turn a product around each one gets better and more creative. They are wonderful clients to have!

We have a handful of clients! A brew to watch out for would be Swing Oil, these guys have a killer beer and have gained numerous accounts since the fall. They are super dedicated to their beer and market themselves right for sure. Some killer brews to watch out for would be Iron Duke (Ludlow, MA) and Independent Fermentations (Plymouth, MA).


ATH: Your turnaround time on an order is definitely a strength. Can you explain what makes it special?

ECT: What makes our turnaround special is this: most beer is seasonal...if you come out with a beer and have to wait four months for an order of tap handles, you’ve missed the season and missed the opportunity to gain profit on that product. Our turnaround is also so rapid because our supplies do not exceed an 80 mile radius of our office in Westfield MA, everything we do is in house and we know on most occasion these taps are needed ASAP. 


ATH: Do you attend beer festivals and events? Which ones?

ECT: Beer festivals are one of our greatest forms of networking. You’ll get 20, 30 or even 100+ breweries in the same spot all at once with one thing on their mind - beer. We’ve gone all over the place for beer fests from Buffalo to Boston, Philly to Rhode Island, it is one of the best ways for us to reach out to our target market. We always bring leave-behinds, beer tap business cards and we chose a handful of the breweries to provide designs to! It is a great experience. 


ATH: How can you be contacted?

ECT: Audra is the partnership master, you can contact her at audra@eastcoasttaps.com or reach out at 413.250.4320. You can also give us a shout at hello@eastcoasttaps.com!


ATH: Who makes up ECT? What do they bring to the table?

ECT: The East Coast Taps team is special, allow me to introduce...

Audra Quintin: “The beer connoisseur and mother hen entrepreneur”
Audra is a 24 year old female entrepreneur in a male dominated industry (hence the mother hen). After studying four years of business at Seton Hall University she moved home to live with her parents (exciting-we know). The struggle was real and her bills were stacked so she picked up a bartending job while receiving her MBA. Along the way she met...

Blake Bryan: “I’m just the art guy”
Blake is a professional artist and also a beer connoisseur. His art is breathtaking and has been showcased all around the area from street murals to schools, businesses to organizations. Blake graduated from Westfield State and went on to become an art teacher, but also hosted many community art classes. He maintains his edgy art style and ranges from so many different types of art from sculpting to painting, canvas work to innovative creations. This is where our next businesses partner fell into place...

Chandler Quintin and Audra Quintin
Chandler Quintin: “Mr. Wonderful”
Chandler is Audra’s older brother and is considered the Massachusetts young version of Mr. Wonderful (shark tank). Chandler was born a full blown entrepreneur and Innovationist, at any point Chandler will capitalize on an idea that he knows will succeed. He is our brand director and holds the title well. Chandler takes every form of innovation and brings it to the next level, he is currently up for “40 under 40 in businesses” located in Providence, RI. His Drexel Entrepreneurship MBA degree has served him well. You know what else has served him well?...

Matthew Lawlor: “Half comedian, half art guy” 
Matt was our first added on full time employee at East Coast Taps, what sealed the deal was Matt is classically trained in art, he studied at the Hartford School of Fine Art and the Yukon School of Fine Art, Matt also has a degree in graphic design and studio painting. It’s more than obvious art is one of Matt’s best qualities, but five days a week we we get to see his other best quality which is his in office stand up. The interns enjoy it the most….

We have 5 interns from Westfield State University, they have grown with the business and work well with the business and we sure do love them!


ATH: What does the future hold for ECT, what goals are you striving for?

ECT: The future holds a lot for ECT, to put things simply the craft brew, microbrew and home-brew market are saturated. A lot of people get nervous entering a saturated market because the barriers to entry are difficult to overcome - however this industry might be an exception to the rule because the craft beer industry has grown 19% in the past 5 years which is astonishing. This so called “saturation” works in our favor because the demand for our product is only increasing, and the suppliers out there are currently very dismal when discussing competitors. What we are striving for is finding a solution to solve the market need. This particular market is in dire need of branding, POS and marketing to keep up with the handful of competitors (other breweries) it faces. Enough said. We want to continue to innovate and produce kick ass beer taps for the breweries that deserve kick ass branding. We want to become the authority in a new era of tap technology production and continue to educate ourselves on how we can save our clients money, how we can approach new situations and how we can integrate an overabundance of creativity and innovation into our company as a whole.


ATH: What’s your favorite style of beer?

ECT: IPAs all the way! The rest of the team would agree with me, but we do have some pumpkin lovers!


ATH: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about your company?

ECT: I’d like people to know one thing about East Coast Taps. We’ve built the foundation of our company on passion, the walls from experience and education and the roof from innovation. We are just a couple of kids trying to solve the market need. If we could live life feasibly without money we would do this job all day everyday and then some. We intertwine the beauty of art, the love of business and the value of people everyday and will not stop, we can’t, we love it too much!


ATH: A big thank you to Audra for taking the time to answer my questions and provide insight into the industry and her company's operations. Here's to East Coast Taps' bright future!

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