Since I’ve known Carlos for most of my booze business days, I thought I would chime in.
At Seagram, Carlos and I suffered through the foibles of our Latin American boss and managed to survive the adventures of Patron in the early days. Carlos went on to run the Asia-Pacific whiskey business.
Next came an 8-year stint with the Beckmann family running the tequila business with impressive results and literally put Jose Cuervo on the global map. He managed to double sales and triple profits and increased market share by five percentage points. Not shabby.
A brief tour of duty as President of the Arnell Group was enough to convince him that doing your own thing is far more rewarding than working in a corporate setting.
So, enter Broadway and Hiro Sake.
Carlos, for as long as I’ve known him, has wanted to be a producer and already has a string of credits. He was co-producer for the Cage Aux Folles revival (won a Tony); co-producer of The Scottsboro Boys; ‘above the title’ producer credit for On a Clear Day and The King’s Speech. He also owns the Latin America rights to The Boy From Oz, which he will open in Lima next year and expects to take on tour thereafter. As a wannabe playwright who is learning about the theatre business, all I can say is, this is most impressive for someone who has been at it for a short period of time.
While turning on lights on Broadway, Carlos and his partners launched Hiro Sake, a premium product brewed in Niigata, the prime sake-producing region of Japan. There is a Hiro Red (Junmai) and a Hiro Blue (Junmai Ginjo). What’s particularly interesting to me is how they are marketing Hiro – an easily pronounced brand call with all the tradition and heritage of Sake, yet appropriate as a cocktail. In fact, their focus is on both Asian as well as mainstream accounts. Kind of reminds me of how Patron was built.
The recent news on Hiro is impressive. Two weeks ago, they announced a distribution agreement with Monsieur Touton Selection as exclusive distributor for the brand in the northeast. Last week, they won a boatload of medals including gold, double gold and best sake in the show at the NY Wine and Spirits Competition and a number of medals at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
I asked Carlos about the common denominator for Broadway ventures and launching a new booze product. He told me, “They have a lot in common…they each require unique ideas and development with innovation and passion.”
Let’s not forget sponsorship opportunities. For example, next week, Hiro Sake will welcome the debut of Japanese superstar Ryoko Yonekura as Roxy Hart in Chicago. The signature drink will be the funny, honey Hiro.
Sounds like they’re on a roll.