The Family Behind Apple Beer

SUU held the final Entrepreneurship Speaker Series on the 2018-2019 school year on April 23 with Larry Stillman, founder of the first Apple Beer production company in the United States.

The Speaker Series focused on three speakers: Stillman, Ashley Simmons and Shany Cornell and their perspective of being a part of a family-run business.

Stillman began the lecture by discussing his personal philosophy of “Just Do It” as well as the history of his product. He encouraged students to pursue risks saying, “Regardless of whether you could fail or not, just do it.”

Apple beer has been around in Germany since 1925, but Stillman was the first to bring it to America. Stillman was first introduced to apple beer while serving a service mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint in Germany. He then brought apple beer to America in 1964 and began selling his product.

Simmons, the president of Apple Beer, then continued the lecture by telling about her focus on rebranding. Not only rebranding her company, but also how to rebrand yourself as a person.

Originally a landscape architecture, Simmon decided to follow her passion for graphic design start her own company, Stillman Design. It wasn’t long before she ended up working alongside her family as a part of Apple Beer, where she has been for the past sixteen years.

She reflected on her path saying, “There were many curves that I did not anticipate and I could not always anticipate where it would take me.”

This led to discussing how difficult expanding the product line was with their original name of Apple Beer. They went onto rebrand as SodaBeer. This new name allowed them to introduce new products as well as maintain the idea that they are a gourmet soda company.

Finally, Cornell, the vice president of finance for Apple Beer, discussed the rebranding from the finance and trademark perspective.

The re-branding allowed the company to better meet customer demands and adapt to the current market.

This was the final Entrepreneur Series talk of the year, but the Entrepreneur Club will host a Real Estate Seminar in room 120 of the Business Building on April 24 at 5 to 7 p.m.

Story by: Alex Schilling
Photo Credit: Christopher Dimond