NAME: Chris Lawson
HOMETOWN: Signal Mountain (now resides in Los Angeles)
TITLE: President and COO of High Liquors
After successfully launching his own liquor company, High Liquors, with best friend Brad Wright in 2011, Chris Lawson is living a dorm-days dream that normally doesn't last post college graduation. The Signal Mountain native met his best friend turned business partner at the University of Kentucky in 1999 and began his career working in management consulting for large companies such as Coca-Cola and Home Depot. Ten years later, Lawson's career choice would give him and Wright an edge on the competition when they decided to start High Liquors. The company, which gives customers a one-stop shop for a full bar featuring vodka, tequila, rum and whiskey, boasts being the "new ultra premium standard - the spirits against which all others will be judged."
? This industry is very unique. I feel like I'm drinking from a fire hose because I'm just constantly learning.
? For me, the best part of doing this is that I get to do something I love with my best friend. Those relationships can be really risky. We've been through a lot together and we have a mutual respect for one another. If we disagree on something, at the end of the day it's like it never happened. The spirits themselves were difficult. We wanted to source from the finest distilleries in the world, but there was no way we could find one master distillery. We spent two years tasting and we tasted some horrible ones in the process. There were 5-10 horrible ones for every good one.
? I live in Los Angeles and Brad lives in Kentucky so without the technical advantages of Skype and instant messaging, there's no way we could have gotten through product development. We would sit down in front of Skype and taste them together. The key is what's inside the bottles.
? We have a vodka, tequila, rum and whiskey but we don't have a gin yet that we feel is worthy for our lineup. We aren't going to sacrifice quality just because we want to have a full bar. We want to be one of the most recognizable in the industry. No matter what, we are bringing consumers the highest quality.
? We chose High Liquors as the name because we wanted to make sure we had a name that was simple to remember, easy to pronounce and representative of our brand. Keep it simple. That was the key.
? Chattanooga was one of the first markets we soft launched in around April 2011. It was important for me to do that in an environment I'm comfortable in. It provided a great ground to enter in the product. I live in L.A. now, but Chattanooga is home. People give you honest feedback for better or for worse.
? I grew up on Signal Mountain and went to Red Bank High School, along with my dad, sister and uncle who also went to Red Bank. My whole family is here.