By Eric Dehm
It had been well over a decade since Travis McVey had left the Marine Corps when he found himself sitting in a VFW, thinking about his Marine brother that had recently been killed in Afghanistan. As he reflected on that loss, he reflected on what was doing with his life–namely, selling tires, which he’d done since a short time after leaving the Corps.
“I had been at the job a long time… and then my friend was killed in Afghanistan and I was sitting in the VFW, thinking of my friend around Memorial Day 2009 or 2010. I kept seeing these commercials from these big companies, especially liquor companies and beer companies, giving lip service like they cared about us, but it was only on Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day.”
That didn’t sit right with McVey. And as we all know, when something doesn’t sit right with a Marine, they do something about it. So what do you do when the issue you have is with the big liquor companies? Start your own liquor company? Who does that? Travis McVey does.
McVey left his job in the tire industry and founded Heroes Vodka in 2009, shortly after that trip to the VFW. In the 8 years since, his company has seen continued growth and is now available in 16 states as well as Washington D.C.
While McVey is proud of his product, and the growth of the company, he says he takes even more pride in the fact that Heroes Vodka gives back to the veteran community whenever it can– whether that means using distilleries that have veterans on staff, making donations to national organizations like AMVETS, or doing it on a more local level using a percentage of the profit from each bottle sold.
“We give back with every purchase, and that goes back to the state where it’s sold,” McVey says. “What we sell in Tennessee, goes back to Tennessee, what we sell in New York goes back to New York and so on. that’s important to us.”
While his product is not yet as well known as some others, it’s getting there, receiving accolades including 6 gold medals and 4 silver medals in both national, and international tasting contests. Still, while notoriety is a goal for McVey and his team at Heroes Vodka, the main goals are things McVey makes very clear.
“We need to raise a glass to our heroes,” McVey says. “That’s what my friends who died for our country were. I’m not a hero, they were, but I hope I can be an inspiration to others to show that if I can do it they can do it.”