Weldon town commissioners are expected Monday to take a vote on selling the former Super Sturdy building to two entrepreneurs wanting to use it for a distillery.
Bruce Tyler and Michael Hinderliter also plan to incorporate the Roanoke River Mill across the way at River Falls Park into their plans.
The town board meets at 6 p.m. in town hall on Washington Avenue.
Tyler said in an interview this week he and Hinderliter plan to use both buildings as a way to market not only their distillery business but the history of the town.
It was the history of the mill and the town which attracted the business partners.
The River Mill, which is now under contract, was the selling point. “This building, this waterfront, when I first saw the building I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Tyler said.
While the pair plan is to use the Super Sturdy building for the distilling, the mill will play into the social and retail functions of the business, Tyler said.
The mill will be used for weddings and retreats, explaining the distilling process, telling the history of the mill and the history of the town.
“It’s welcoming and warm,” Tyler said, explaining other than making minor repairs for preservation, “We want to embrace it the way it is now.”
Said Hinderliter, “We don’t want it to lose its charm.”
“We want to let the building showcase itself,” Tyler said.
The business will be known as Weldon Mills Distillery.
Until the intellectual property rights are obtained, Tyler, a 25-year Army man and attorney, declined to discuss the names of the product lines but he did confirm one product would be aimed at raising funds for Wounded Warriors and families of fallen soldiers.
Another product will be aimed at the preservation of rockfish “as it is such an important resource for the town.”
He said among the products there will be an older bourbon and younger bourbon. “The older bourbon will be more of a premium line like Blanton’s and the younger bourbon will still be a great product competing with bourbons like Maker’s Mark.”
Tyler’s intent is to use corn from farms its farmers brought to the mill in its heyday. “We’re tying the new use to the old use.”
The Super Sturdy building blends perfectly for the plans as a distillery as the mill would have required modifications and would have prevented the public from enjoying the building, Tyler said.
The Super Sturdy building lends itself to the distilling process, storage and room to grow, he said.
If the town board gives a thumbs up to the Super Sturdy building sale, the partners will have to go through a federal licensing process for a distilled spirits production license, Food and Drug Administration licensing, state licensing and zoning compliance.
Tyler and Hinderliter already have a distiller lined up with many years of experience.
Tyler would love to see the facility opened by rockfish season.
If not, Hinderliter said, “We will still have a presence at the mill in support of rockfish season. We will have rockfish products, T-shirts and hats with proceeds going to rockfish preservation efforts. We want to bring back life to something already here. The rockfish spawning grounds are such a big part of the town.”
Tyler said with each line of product, there will be T-shirts, hats, trinkets and glasses, which will be featured in the river mill.
With the tour customers can have a tasting to sample the products and are allowed by law to purchase up to five bottles per person per year.
The partners feed off each other’s business acumen.
“You couldn’t have anybody better,” said Tyler of Hinderliter. “He’s been an entrepreneur since a kid. He’s set up very successful businesses. He’s got a keen eye for business.”
Hinderliter, who is a car parts distributor, said of Tyler, “He spent his career in the military, he’s got his JD and MBA. You really couldn’t ask for a better combination.”
Weldon Mayor Julia Meacham said, “The board is very excited. This is going to help Weldon grow.”
The Super Sturdy building, which the town owns, has been vacant since before Meacham came on as mayor.
Meacham said plans for the distillery fit in with efforts to market the town as a tourist destination. “Everyone plays off each other. He (Tyler) has the passion to make it happen. I feel like he’s already a resident. Part of his vision is to promote the history.”
Elizabeth Conwell Robinson of Heaton Real Estate worked with Tyler and Hinderliter. “I’m very excited for our community,” said Ellen Heaton, owner of the real estate company. “It takes a team to make things happen.”
That team, she said, not only included Robinson, but Lori Medlin of county tourism and Cathy Scott of county economic development. “It’s looking like good things are on the horizon for our community and we are excited to be a part of it.”
Said Tyler of Robinson: “We worked with Elizabeth for months. Her understanding of the real estate market and her understanding of the local area has been invaluable. She definitely has a finger on the pulse of Halifax County without a doubt.”