Simple Times Mixers Expands with Production Facility

All photos by Susan Post

Simple Times Mixers is setting itself up for continued growth with the opening of its own production facility at 750 Cross Pointe Rd. in Gahanna.

Simple Times launched in September 2017 to fill a gap Founder Mark Tinus saw in the alcohol market for quality mixers. Using fresh-squeezed juices and a “just add alcohol” motto, Simple Times makes it easy to consistently create a quality cocktail without having master mixology skills.

The need for not only more space, but a space of their own put Simple Times in the market for a new production facility. The company was a tenant of shared commercial kitchen space 1400 Food Lab, which presented its own set of unique challenges.

“Not owning the space and not being able to invest in equipment that was specific for us was pretty difficult,” Tinus says.

They couldn’t get rid of that piece of equipment or move this one over there because someone else likely needed it. Having to operate as a largely wheel in, wheel out operation, Simple Times adjusted its process and found ways to make it work – until they ran out of space.

What started as a four-hour shift had turned into 60 hours a week of kitchen time. Simple Times wares occupied nearly every open square foot of space. At the beginning, Tinus estimated they could reasonably scale up to 400 gallons a week of production. By the time they moved, Simple Times’ customer list demanded 650 gallons a week. When every hour and every unit of storage had to be paid for, it was an inefficient way to grow.

Tinus knew that, ideally, a move to their own facility would always be in their future, but it became a question of what kind of move?

“Do we make an intermediary step? Where we could get a little bit more space with the growth we were expecting and basically have to move again in another year or two after that?” Tinus asked. “Or do we just get down to it and build our place and take a gigantic leap?”

Leap it was.

The new Gahanna production facility allows Simple Times to consolidate its office, storage, parking, e-commerce and kitchen operations all in one spot (versus 1400 Food Lab, coworking office and whatever happened to be in whoever’s car). It also opens the door for events, tours, tastings and retail.

Simple Times has room to grow within its kitchen space. Tinus says getting to set up their own space in a way that makes sense for their production has been a learning curve. It’s also meant luxuries like a delivery dock and their own reach in coolers and freezers. It opens a whole new world of efficiencies for the production process.

Visitors can watch Simple Times in action from the front portion of the building that features retail and event space with windows peeking into the production facility.

Tinus wanted to include a retail component at the request of customers. During their regular farmers market rotation, Simple Times was receiving questions from customers who wanted to come directly to them to pick up mixers.

The attached event space represents an opportunity for both internal and external events. Simple Times is working on lineup of cocktail courses to encourage imbibers to experiment with the mixers. Accommodating between 25-40, they’ll also make the space available to groups that want to host private events, from team happy hours, to cocktail making fun for bachelor and bachelorette parties, and more.

In a span of just two years, Tinus says several puzzle pieces have come together to contribute to their growth and potential moving forward. They’ve tapped into bars and restaurants, e-commerce, and direct sales through farmers markets and now, over 100 retail locations across the state.

“They have all worked really well in concert with each other,” Tinus says.

They’ll continue to look for growth opportunity with major chain retailers. Simple Times landed a deal with Giant Eagle, but Tinus says they had been holding off in pursuing other chains because of production capacity.

Simple Times also plans to ramp up its advertising around e-commerce and its subscription service.

“We are very underutilized in e-commerce,” Tinus says.

As Simple Times looks to expand its reach beyond the state, Tinus says 95% of sales come from Ohioans, customers will have more variety of mixers to choose from.

What started with about six hand-juiced fruits has expanded to the 20 range, equating to about 13 core products. Flavors like Cucumber Mint Limeade, Grapefruit Basil Limeade and more tea-based flavors have been added to the lineup. Seasonal favorites like Pomegranate will also be on shelves again soon.

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