Drew is a Millennial that is pushing the craft soda movement forward, Texas-style. As owner and President of Barton Springs Soda Company, he is bringing delicious handcrafted root beer and orange cream to the thirsty citizens of Austin. With a big focus on community, Fisher has even become a steward of his company’s namesake landmark, the Barton Springs Pool, by setting up the Barton Springs Foundation. We caught up with him to find out about his experiences working in the beverage industry.
Why did you want to work in the soda industry?
I got in the soda industry by accident. The idea came out of left field, we were waiting for our TTB permits [operator license] so we could start brewing beer, and that is a long process. We had already signed a lease and were looking for something to pick up the revenue and splash us in the market. I remembered about a great local soda company in Durango, Colorado called Zuberfizz, and soon began perfecting the recipes, and next thing we knew, we were in business.
What was the best moment you’ve had while working at Barton Springs?
My best moment at Barton Springs Soda Company so far has been interacting with our customers and retailers. I love to give retailers everything they need to succeed, and I would take the shirt off my back for them. They were the ones who took a chance on me, a 23-year-old kid. To take a chance on something like that is huge, everyone said it was a one and done. Now all the retailers and customers I meet are considered friends.
Once I was eating lunch at a restaurant called Miltos in Austin, Texas, and I saw a couple kids drinking our soda with their parents across the table. I ran to my car and grabbed a couple shirts and stickers and gave them to the kids. They were amazed by my age and as the kids were walking out they thanked me and told me they wanted to have my job when they grow up. I laughed as told them anything is possible and to follow your dreams as the dad patted me on the back and said “thank you.”
What is your favorite thing about working in the beverage industry?
My favorite thing about working in the beverage industry is interacting with everyone involved, there are micro-brewerys and craft soda makers popping up all over the country. To me they are not competition, they are friends, and I enjoy meeting every single one of them. It is a great sight to see someone drink a craft soda instead of the traditional Coke or Pepsi. We all acknowledge that, and know that we are doing our job.
What do you think a college student should know about the beverage industry before choosing a major?
College is crazy; I just graduated 2 years ago. You will bring maybe 1% of what you learn in college into the beverage industry, as crazy as it sounds. It is all about hands on, going out and selling your product. If I were to re-do my college experience I would have chosen to be a marketing major. To promote your brand will make it strong, and as a small grass-roots company it is hard to get funding for advertising in your first couple years. They can teach you how to make a formula, but you still have to make a product. Get an internship at a local brewery or soda company that is the hands on experience you need. Anyone can graduate college, but to run a business is a different story. It’s a measure of will and your determination to make it succeed. That can’t be taught, it’s already inside of you.
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