Business Spotlight: Devils Backbone, Lexington, Va.

DB 1editedThe Devils Backbone Adventure 12 Pack is proving popular with consumers who want to sample several different beers from the Lexington, Virginia,-based brewery, but assembling the variety packs aren’t easy for a growing company. Which is where Vector Industries in Waynesboro comes in.

“There’s literally nothing we’ve thrown at them that they’ve said, no, we can’t do that, and honestly I believe at this point that there’s nothing we could throw at them that they wouldn’t at least take a good stab at figuring out how to do,” said Hayes Humphreys, the chief of operations at Devils Backbone, which contracted Vector Industries in March to assemble its Adventure 12 Packs.

Humpheys wasn’t familiar with Vector Industries, which employs and trains persons with diverse disabilities to enable them to reach their potential as productive community members, until he mentioned to a business colleague he was looking for a solution related to the Adventure 12 Packs.

The variety packs are popular with consumers, Humphreys said, “who like to be able to get their feet wet with a new brewery by being able to sample different products in one package,” but they can also be a “daunting challenge” for a growing company like Devils Backbone to try to assemble on its own.

“We have machinery that works well in packaging one type of beer, putting it into a case, and then it goes into a store, and it’s sold six pack by six pack. But picking three beers from four different styles requires, first of all, running all the beers off separately, putting them into boxes, and then manually repacking them into these other cases. That’s very challenging,” Humphrey said.

“We really wanted to get into that business,” Humphreys said, “but we weren’t sure that we had the capabilities to do it.”

Enter Vector, which has been working in recent years to burnish its credentials in assembly, logistics and operational support for clients throughout Virginia. Humphreys visited Vector to see for himself the work that the company does, to gauge for himself if the fit was a good one, and he came away impressed.

“I wanted to make sure that they were capable of doing the work, that the work conditions in the work environment, which is a sort of nontraditional work environment, that we were all comfortable with it,” Humphreys said.

What Humphreys remembers about that first visit is learning about how Vector has a longstanding relationship with Parker Bows, an Augusta County-based company that produces high-end hunting equipment.

“There was this moment of realization. Well, if they can make weaponry, they can probably handle repacking our beer,” Humphreys said.

“Touring the spot, meeting some of the people, seeing the kind of work that they were doing, it was more than enough to persuade us,” Humphreys said.

The services provided by Vector have exceeded expectations.

“First and foremost, the final product is exactly what we want it to be, which is just an entry-level, basic requirement, but on top of that is the flexibility that they can provide us in terms of how they do things, and their ability to meet our lead times, our turnaround times,” Humphreys said.

“We try to accommodate all of our business partners and work within their budget and time frames,” said David Tanner, Vector’s Director of Operations. “Devil’s Backbone is a first class operation and working with them has been easy.  We have a nice synergy.”

Flexibility on the part of Vector to meet different deadlines has also been key.

“And with that, their ability to understand, from our perspective, the finances of the product, and to say, hey, to make this work, whatever we need to do, we can do that. That is huge for us,” Humphreys said.

Humphreys heartily recommends business and industrial owners and managers in need of assembly, logistics and operational support services to give Vector Industries a close look.

“Go see the work they’re doing, go see where they’re doing it, and see for yourself. They do great work,” Humphreys said.

“The work they’re doing for us is a huge help to us, but they’re meeting a huge need in the community as well. I’d love to see them get more clients, get more business and employ more folks. They’re doing something that’s extremely valuable and at the same time filling an important role in society,” Humphreys said.