fbpx

This Way to Success

Kate Shapira Latts grew Heaven Hill Brand’s marketing team from five to 55

 

By Elizabeth Scinta
Photo provided by Heaven Hill Distillery

 

“I always knew I wanted to be in the business world. When I was a kid, I always played store when other kids were playing teacher or house,” Kate Shapira Latts, Chief Marketing Officer at Heaven Hill Brands, explained. Although she knew she wanted to be in the business world, Latts was never pushed towards the family business, Heaven Hill Brands. As a little girl, her world revolved around Heaven Hill Brands. Their milk glasses were Heaven Hill Brand’s rock glasses. Her days consisted of going to the distillery with her father to check in on the business. And family vacations were spent visiting liquor stores to see if consumers picked Heaven Hill off the shelves. “I have these memories of going to Bardstown to the Heaven Hill Distilleries and remembering how the company could physically see that the warehouse was getting bigger. I thought seeing that tangible growth was really cool,” Latts explained. “One of my dad’s favorite things in the world to do is see a consumer pick one of our brands up off the shelf. That sort of consumer behavior inspired me.”

Looking back on it now, it seems evident that Latts should have entered the marketing world immediately, but initially, it wasn’t that simple. Latts went to Duke University intending to become a banker post-graduation; however, during her senior year, she realized it wasn’t for her. So, she re-enrolled in Duke’s business school to earn a degree in consulting, and that’s where she found her passion in product management, brand management and marketing. Latts was determined not to return to Louisville, her hometown, after graduation, so she moved to Cincinnati, where she and her husband, Allan Latts, worked at Procter and Gamble. After five years in The Queen City and a new addition to the family, the Latts decided it was time to move home and join the family business. 

With her young children being her main focus, Latts started working three days a week in a staff role to spend time with her kids. A few years later, she became the leader of the marketing organization and ultimately became the Chief Marketing Officer in 2001. When Latts first started at Heaven Hill Brands, the marketing team consisted of five individuals; now, the group comprises 55 people. As Chief Marketing Officer, Latts jokes she doesn’t get to do much marketing today, but that’s what the team is for, right? So, together they work to answer the question that makes up Heaven Hill Brand’s mission: how can we enhance the enjoyment of life with consumers around the world? “To achieve that mission, we must have the products that deliver on that, create that success and work across the value stream to be successful. So we try to understand what the consumer wants and work internally with our production team to say, ‘how do we make a package, label, bottle and liquid’ that represents a product we want to sell,” explained Latts.

As the country’s largest independent family-owned and operated distilled spirits supplier, improvement and growth are crucial to keeping up with the consumer’s demands. So, on June 6, Heaven Hill Brands broke ground on its new distillery in Bardstown named “Heaven Hill Springs Distillery” – a nod to the original distillery that burned down in 1996. “Bardstown is where the company started, so it means so much to the community of Bardstown and the company. I know my grandfather and his brother would be smiling knowing this,” said Latts. “It continues to signal that we’re in this business for the long term as we are long-term focused and optimistic about the bourbon industry and the growth and opportunity there. But, our goals still remain in a diversified company.” As Kentuckians, we might think that bourbon is the most significant percentage of Heaven Hill Brands’ portfolio, but it only accounts for 30%. The rest of the portfolio comprises tequila, vodka and liqueurs. 

Latts path to Chief Marketing Officer wasn’t linear, but she landed at the top through her hard work and dedication. She wore many different hats as a working mom and believes she wouldn’t be where she was without overinvesting in child care. “People don’t talk about work-life balance and integration, but the saying ‘it takes a village” is not wrong,” explained Latts. “It’s important for your kids, significant other and the work you’re doing without relying on resources and supplementing those too; otherwise, you’ll burn out.”

Heaven Hill Brands
4500 Bowling Blvd.
Louisville, KY 40207
heavenhill.com
502.348.3921