Ed Belfour achieved great success playing his sport’s most individualized position. But he also knows that standup teammates like Chris Chelios, Richard Matvichuk, and Craig Ludwig did a lot to help him win a Stanley Cup and earn election to the Hockey Hall of Fame. It makes sense, then, that to give an ambitious post-hockey endeavor its best chance of success, he would try to assemble a strong team around him.
The venture entails building a distillery complex called Belfour Spirits. They plan to produce several varieties of liquor, and the project involves more than one Belfour. The principal team consists of Ed and his children, son Dayn, and daughter Reaghan. The core members of Team Belfour have gradually pushed the project forward over the past four years as they have learned the nuances of the business and navigated regulatory and logistical considerations.
To take the next steps, they needed to add to their team. “The team we’ve assembled over the last year and a half is a phenomenal team. They’re first class,” said Ed Belfour of a group whose specialties include architecture, construction, distillery finance and production, branding, event planning, marketing, and more. “(Many of them) are from the Louisville, Kentucky area where Dayn and I went to the Moonshine University last April.”
In the second week of August, they gathered their experts in the heart of bourbon country, Louisville. The gathering created an opportunity for ideas and dialogue to flow around the conference room at the offices of TEG Architects. “He is doing it right,” explained Don Rodgers, an industry veteran handling finance for the project, about bringing all the players to the same place instead of meeting with each individually. “Where you waste money is if he had the architect draw up all these plans and then operations looked at it and accounting or design says, ‘no this isn’t right,’ and then you start redoing.”
As ideas about branding, dining and entertainment spaces coalesced, TEG owner Wayne Estopinal began sketching on long sheets of white paper the basics of what the building(s) might require to achieve the group’s goals. In addition to creating tasty whiskies, vodkas, gins, and more, the Belfour family wanted to look at offering tours, a tasting room, a supper club, and event spaces for rent. Over the course of the two days, the group determined what such features could look like and how they might fit into available space and budget.
“We started off very broad, talking about how various large spaces would relate to one another and we started narrowing down and now we’ve narrowed it down to every single space,” Estopinal said. “Their vision will come to life and it’s fun that we’re kind of the tools of helping them bring that to life.”
The Belfours have a piece of lakefront property in North Texas in mind for their production facility and gathering spot. They are constantly gathering ideas for decor (Ed and Dayn even snapped photos of the Louisville steakhouse where they dined in case it might spark inspiration) and the facility will certainly include memorabilia related to the Hall of Famer’s career.
The Eagle entertained hockey fans with his play for more than a decade. His team now hopes Belfour Spirits will have the same effect on its patrons. “I’m going to be able to connect to our clientele. Who knows, I might have a regular for 25 years,” explained Dayn Belfour of his family’s vision for establishing a lasting enterprise. “It’s something that’s very important to me and I’m excited about it.”
While, they still have lots of work to do before they can service their first customers, their Louisville sessions provided the Belfours the information they need to move forward as a business, a family, and a team.
– by Rush Olson –