New PA Law to Loosen Shipping Rules for Small Distillers-Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, February 21, 2014

New PA Law to Loosen Shipping Rules for Small Distillers

HARRISBURG — While studying entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University nearly four years ago, Casey Parzych and two classmates hit on an idea to start a small distilling company.

As a mechanical engineering student, Parzych would build the stills and bottling equipment for the spirits they would produce. The financial side of the plan would be handled by economics and statistics major Douglas Heckmann, and by Anthony Lorubbio, who was studying business and information systems.

The trio's concept won an award, and they were offered $50,000 in startup funds from the university's Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund if they could scratch together a matching amount.

Suddenly the class project had the potential to be become a reality.

They took a chance and decided to start Midnight Madness Distilling on the outskirts of Quakertown, Parzych's hometown.

In business, timing the market correctly can be half the battle for success.

Their timing appears perfect.

On Dec. 22, 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a bill that would make it easier for small distillers to operate in Pennsylvania's highly regulated liquor industry. Act 113 would allow distillers, which annually produce up to 100,000 gallons of spirits, to sell directly to consumers if the Liquor Control Board's regulations pass muster with the state's Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the attorney general's office.

The commission's final public meeting on the LCB rules will be Thursday and, if the attorney general's review goes smoothly, the regulation could be in place by mid-June, LCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said.

After spending two years raising the needed capital to get the university grant, finalize the business model, secure a location and build machinery, Midnight Madness Distilling is shopping for customers.

"We have been at it six months now," said Parzych, 22, a Quakertown native and Moravian Academy graduate who took a hiatus from Carnegie Mellon to help start the business. "We produce vodka and gin. If we could ship directly to consumers, that would be nice...Read more»

By: Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau