Find out how the company is encouraging inclusive hiring at its North Charleston distillery
Clockwise from top left: Co-owners Tyler LaCorata, Ryan Sadis, and Kerianne Krause
When Beyond Distilling opened its doors in North Charleston in December offering Coconut Rum, Tropical Gin, and Bourbon Whiskey, its staff included two people who have a disability. It’s a deliberate hiring strategy that the three founding business partners hope will become a model in the liquor industry and beyond. “It’s the way it should be,” says co-owner Kerianne Krause, pointing out that a caring management style is good business. “With the labor shortage, everyone is looking for good people. They’re here, we just have to let people know to hire them,” she says.
As the founder of Building Independence Together, Krause works with children with autism and other developmental delays to help them improve their communication skills and foster autonomy. She recognized that when her clients “aged out” of social services, they often had difficulty finding jobs. Those who did find work faced a loophole in labor laws that allows some employers to pay people with disabilities a sub-minimum wage.
“With the labor shortage, everyone is looking for good people.They’re here, we just have to let people know to hire them.” —Kerianne Krause, co-owner
Wondering whether there was an opportunity for her 21-year-old clients to work in the liquor industry and be paid an equitable wage, Krause reached out to her high school classmate, Tyler LaCorata, who was working in the business in New York.
Fortuitously, LaCorata and his best friend, Ryan Sadis, were planning to launch their own venture. The men partnered with Krause to open Beyond Distilling, merging their dreams with Krause’s vision of hiring workers with disabilities. When the two told Krause what they would pay someone for the type of work, she responded, ‘That’s not enough. We are going to do things differently.’”
So far, the owners have hired three team members and plan to soon scale up to 10 part-time employees to help bottle, label, and package the spirits. LaCorata says that working with the employees with disabilities has helped him establish the kind of culture he wants to encourage. Movies are projected on a large wall for workers to watch, and the lounge includes a kitchen where LaCorata, who has a culinary background, whips up vegan dishes from the garden behind the distillery. “To us, it’s just how we run our business,” he says. “If someone needs help, you ask how you can help them.”
The business partners spoke about the distillery’s inclusive hiring in December at the American Craft Spirit Awards in Kentucky. “Our logo is an open door,” Sadis says. “There’s a reason for that.”
(Left) The North Charleston distillery has a small tiki-themed garden for tastings and parties and eventually plans to add an restaurant and larger event space; (Right) Beyond Distilling introduced its Coconut Rum, Tropical Gin, and Bourbon Whiskey in November 2021.