In our last post, we considered the problems faced by Brandywine as they set about trying to get off the ground as a new alcohol producer in California. The licenses allowing them to do all that they wanted to do were challenging to obtain, because the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (the ABC) was concerned that they were trying to get around certain restrictions on serving brandy in a distillery tasting room. However, even convincing the ABC that Brandywine would meet the requirements for serving brandy in their tasting room was not the end of the issue for the ABC. In addition to doing all the right things, Brandywine had to show that it was going to do them in the right places – an interesting challenge when the facility is not even fully designed yet.

To understand why this matters, we’ll have to return to the previous post, where we talked about the different types of licenses the ABC issues: some for serving, some for selling, some for producing, and others besides. A licensee needs to be able to show the ABC not only that they are doing all the things required by each license, but also that certain things are physically separated from one another: tasting and sales is one instance; storage is another. When applying for a new license, the ABC will want to be able to see that your facility is set up in such a way that, once operations start, you will be able to comply with these physical constraints.

When Brandywine submitted their application, their facility was little more than a gleam in an architect’s eye. The ABC recognized that it was a new business with a new building, but was not content with Brandywine’s assurances that they would be able to adapt the space once it was completed. But where the agency and the client saw an impasse, we found an opportunity. By facilitating communication between our client and the ABC, a process emerged allowing the ABC to make suggestions which would design regulatory compliance right into the plans for the new building.

Working with regulatory agencies can be an enormous challenge for some businesses. By recognizing and taking advantage of the opportunity to make one a partner rather than an adversary means goodwill now, and long-term savings throughout the life of the business.


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