Welcome to “Trade Heroes”, a series where we highlight Edmonton region companies who have ‘exportitude’ – the mindset and commitment to think globally when it comes to their business. Exporting is never easy, but the impacts it brings in terms of economic growth and job creation are worth the effort. We’re proud to highlight these business leaders as heroes to acknowledge their hard work and the positive impact they bring to our regional economy.
Founded by Nathan Flim and overseen by Julia Le, Tumbler & Rocks is a local distillery that has successfully expanded outside the Edmonton region and is beginning to go global. Early this year, Tumbler & Rocks Cocktails will enter markets in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island through partnerships with New York Wine & Spirits and Atlantic Beverage Distributors.
Early on, Nathan knew he didn’t want to remain a small craft distillery. He had a strong vision to grow the company by expanding into new markets. He began by exploring expansion into other provinces.
While Nathan’s first brand, The Fort Distillery, sold well locally, the complexities of navigating provincial liquor boards made expanding to other provinces challenging. Nathan’s second brand, Tumbler & Rocks faced similar challenges in growing nationally, but Nathan knew the products had universal appeal, making them suitable for markets beyond Canada.
The Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) experience
To help with Tumbler & Rock’s export journey, Nathan participated in the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP). TAP is a 4-day hands-on program designed to accelerate the strategic development of businesses and to better them for expansion into international markets. The TAP Alberta Cohorts of TAP Canada was created by the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and it is supported by the Mobilizing SMEs to Export initiative to assist in delivering Canada’s Export Diversification Strategy. The program is supported by national partners including Calgary Economic Development, the TAP Alberts stewards in partnership with Edmonton Global.
Participating in the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) provided Nathan with essential tools to navigate the complexities of international trade. TAP also reinforced the mindset that Nathan already had – the awareness that exporting was not only possible but would be essential for the company’s growth. Being immersed in a trade-focused environment helped him build a proactive and well-informed approach to international expansion. He eventually chose the United States for Tumbler & Rocks’ first expansion, due to its proximity, cultural similarity, and favourable liquor laws.
Other benefits of participating in the TAP program came through building valuable connections and securing essential loans through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Even post-program, Nathan says that he actively maintains many of the relationships formed through TAP, including leveraging ongoing support from the same BDC representative.
Although Tumbler & Rocks Cocktails is currently available in just a few US states, the company is actively working to establish a strong presence across North America. Nathan’s goal is to expand into ten states by March 2024, with the ultimate aim of reaching every corner of the US.
Through a global mindset and involvement in trade programs like TAP, Tumbler & Rocks Cocktails is transforming from a small craft distillery into a brand with the potential to have a significant presence in US markets.
Learn more or suggest a Trade Hero feature
If you’re looking to go global, TAP is your key to exploring new markets. To apply for the next cohort, please visit this link. Don’t miss this opportunity to accelerate your business to new heights!
Additionally, if you’d like to suggest a business to be featured in Trade Heros, please use this form.
About Tumbler & Rocks Cocktails
Tumbler & Rocks is a family-owned company located in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada. It was founded on the idea that cocktails should be easy to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.