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Tequila 88: A Tequila Hero’s Journey

Hari Dhiman, Founder and CEO of Tequila 88.

Hari Dhiman, Founder and CEO of Tequila 88.

Hari Dhiman, dressed in a black tuxedo, stood humbly but firmly at the podium and looked out over the darkened auditorium packed with guests and well-wishers from all over the Inland Empire of Southern California.

A masterful networker and community leader, the Founder and CEO of upstart tequila brand Tequila 88 had formally invited this who’s-who of politics and business to join him and his family on an early February evening in 2013 to celebrate the brand’s first year accomplishments. A true success in both his life and business, it hasn’t always been easy for East Indian born Hari, as he explains here…

 Tequila 88:  A Love Story

Coasters and brochures.

Coasters and brochures.

In an age where trendy tequila monikers abound and many are marketed to appear so exclusive that they are christened after the area code of certain cities where the brand owners reside or hail from, or the steps taken to represent the tequila’s production (901, 512,  1-2-3, Tres, Cuatro, Cinco), Tequila 88 has a sweet and tender reason for its name that began in exotic Singapore:

Why Tequila?

The man and his tequila.

The man and his tequila.

Dhiman acknowledged that getting into the tequila business during the recession of 2009-2010 wasn’t an easy decision.

Having made his fortune in the hotel and hospitality business, an industry which suffered significant economic blows during that era, as well, Hari confessed that it seemed a safer bet than developing his own tequila brand.

Perseverance, Commitment, Passion

By Hari’s own admission, Tequila 88’s journey was long and arduous.  As a “hands-on” kind of guy, he was involved in every aspect and detail of the brand.  Countless hours were spent on the flavor profile alone, which at one point, even led to his chemical engineer/master distiller to give up on the project in frustration.

Hari, however, doggedly insisted that they both press on.

Determined to bring a solid product into the market, and his long term plans for Tequila 88 hanging in the balance, Dhiman refused to cut corners and met every requirement set down by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) as outlined in its rules and regulations (normas).

Superseding Expectations

Not only did Hari Dhiman acquire his desired flavor profiles for Tequila 88 by exceeding the CRT’s standards, he has since successfully exported his first shipment of Tequila 88 to his homeland in India in the spring of 2013.

A Unique Bottle

Tequila 88 blanco and boxes.

Tequila 88 blanco and boxes.

When I first met Hari Dhiman at his offices and warehouse in Ontario, CA in January 2013, he recounted the events that lead to designing his unique tequila bottle, several of which were artistically displayed as centerpieces.  He then pulled out some shaped pieces of paper from his desk drawer.  These were his initial attempts at making a 3-D model of his dream tequila vessel.

He enlisted a mechanical engineer to complete the plans that now hang on his office wall.  Tequila 88’s bottle and packaging have become a sought after trophy by collectors.

Rags To Riches

A self-made millionaire and serial entrepreneur with several thriving businesses to his credit, Hari shares his formula for success…

During the course of the evening, the milestone celebration swayed between a fiesta and a stockholders’ meeting, but with a lighthearted and humorous atmosphere, nevertheless.   And while it may sound like a cliché, Hari Dhiman’s voyage through life is the epitome of the rags to riches story.  The American Dream personified mixed with an intense entrepreneurial spirit.

Exporting Tequila 88 to India.

Exporting Tequila 88 to India.

From mopping floors for minimum wage, to lifting a snifter of tequila to salute his first overseas shipment into a burgeoning new economy and tequila market, one gets the sense that the next phase of Hari Dhiman’s odyssey will take him even further onto his Tequila Hero’s Journey.

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