From the gig when Solon native Mark Tinus was renting kitchen space by the hour and juicing fresh fruit to a thriving business, his goal remained the same – enable people to make craft cocktails at home and share them with friends.
The growth of his business Simple Times Mixers is rooted in that.
Mr. Tinus, a 2000 graduate of Solon High School who now resides in the New Albany area of Columbus, began his craft cocktail mixer company about three years ago, after extensive experience in the spirits industry.
After graduating from the Ohio State University, he took a job with Anheuser-Busch on the brewing side, earning brew master certification before moving to the East Coast, where he ran their brewing operation in Newark, New Jersey.
Mr. Tinus, 38, who earned his MBA at New York University, began consulting with spirit and beer companies on the marketing side and fell in love with all aspects of the business, he said. He eventually became the marketing director for Heineken in New York for their Central America and South America regions.
It was the birth of his first child, though, that led him to leave Brooklyn and corporate life and branch out on his own.
He first began an international fusion brand, unique and crafty called Revolution Experiment, and fell in love with the new age way of looking at spirits, he explained. He eventually put aside his spirit brand and created craft mixers, which was the birth of Simple Times Mixers that allow for cocktails to be created at home, easily and with the most natural ingredients. Those ingredients are juiced by hand so the mixers were of highest quality, he said, and so he can control the process.
“It’s been a fun venture,” he said.
The business began in a collaborative kitchen in the Grandview area of Columbus, but now he has graduated into his own facility in the Gahanna area, complete with a store front product kitchen and 14 employees.
He began by spending his mornings juicing and then the afternoon and evening selling at farmer’s markets.
Simple Times Mixers are now at more than 500 farmer’s markets, holiday and craft shows and found at the Giant Eagle grocery chains, including the Market District in Solon. Plans are to have his brand at Whole Foods moving forward as well as to fully launch by 2021 in Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. Their current sales encompass all of Ohio and most of Dayton, Sandusky, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. The company also has online sales.
The first two years of growth of his company have been explosive, Mr. Tinus said, and people have grown to love and trust the brand, he said.
“We made it accessible to get craft cocktails at home and the ability to make them,” he said. “Our growth has been solid with that.”
In addition to grocery stores throughout the Ohio market, Simple Times Mixers can be found at independent liquor stores and at the Winking Lizard chain.
Currently, their brand is neck-and-neck as the top mixer brand of the year as part of a “USA Today” online voting poll which is open through Sept. 15.
Craft cocktails that are made through his mixers run the gamut and include such drinks as blueberry basil lemonade, pineapple mule, cranberry margarita and the list goes on.
The name Simple Times Mixers pays homage to a simpler time when real ingredients in drinks were the only option.
The mixers are packaged in 32-ounce glass bottles with two recommendations on each bottle on a cocktail recipe. Currently, they have a total of 44 different recipes and swap in seasonal items.
“The list goes on and on,” he said, and they come up with new recipes daily.
“I develop everything in house here and we are constantly making up new items,” he said.
When local farms bring them ingredients such as peaches or blackberries, they come up with a recipe, he said.
“It is important for us to know where our produce is coming from,” he said.
Mr. Tinus said he enjoys living and working as an entrepreneur and has always loved the alcohol industry as a whole.
Three years into his venture and he is having so much fun, he said.
“I just love personally collaboration and community and product aside, that’s what we get to do every day,” he said. “That part gets me energized.”