Richard and Bernard d’Offay started to commercially distill and age rum in their natal land of Seychelles in 2002. They decided to venture unto unknown and turn their ancestors' passion for amateur distilling and experimentation into a business or even – a life project. And they had from whom to learn: first it was their grandfather, a famous local doctor, and then their father who spend a lifetime experimenting with distillation.
Now, Takamaka rum is well known in Czech Republic, Germany or UK. It is made from locally grown sugar cane and matured in American and French oak barrels. It comes in many varieties: premium St André (named after the tropical spice plantation site where the distillery is now located), dark spice, extra noir, white, coconut, pineapple, mango and passion fruit.
But if not a real zeal of the brothers and their mutual reinforcement in difficult moments the project could never fly. Once again, this case proves how much success in business depends on passion and dedication. If only financial gains had been at stake, we would neither have the Takamaka rum, nor a beautiful Takamaka national heritage estate, that the brothers rehabilitated and opened for visitors. This paradisiac place is now a favorite spot for tourist willing to know more about life in Seychelles in the past, a monument of how the history of the country evolved.
The enterprise started as a 2-men show gives now jobs to 40 persons. Working conditions are competitive and the importance that the d'Offray brothers attach to this aspect contributes too to the company good results. In Seychelles, where labor is scarce, the ability to retain workers for over a decade is something almost unheard of.
Richard, who is responsible for financial and promotional side of the business, stresses the holistic, organic approach they have been promoting in the company growth and constant upgrading of their and the team's knowledge and skills.
Exports currently take about 45% of the production which amounts to 10,000 cases annually. The plan is to increase exports to 75% next year. But before the company started to sell abroad they reinforced their position at home.
And this is the second ingredient in Richard's recipe for success: you need to be strong at home first to graduate to export markets.
But the absolute number one is – make your passion your business.