Harvard Cider

DIY or Die - Welcome to Appleworks

another tag

This is the first piece in our DIY or Die series, where we use photo journals to take a behind the scenes look at our do-it-yourself approach to starting our business without deep pockets. The journal lies at the bottom of the page, you can skip ahead by clicking here.

Life is a giant DIY project. At least, that’s how the three of us see it. When we walked in to what was to be our first production space in late April, our eyes lit up. Drop ceilings and white walls abound, the aesthetic at the time couldn’t have mattered less. Under the white paint, above the drop ceiling, and inside long forgotten computer chip baking room, lay potential. Admittedly, seeing said potential required a level of naiveté only found in 23-year-old first time business owners.

The space is modest; a 3,500 square foot rectangular booze bunker divided into a production space out back and a smaller “retail” area in the front. This building was originally an apple packaging facility for our neighbor, Doe Orchards, though it was divided into smaller commercial units in the 80’s. We have a rather large apple tree outside our front door; it’s terribly appropriate that we make cider here at Appleworks.

The task of overhauling our new home quickly became as daunting as it was exciting. The first order of business was pulling panels from the ceiling and exploring what we were up against. We found that every tenant of this space had run wiring, in no particular arrangement, through said drop ceiling and left it. There were vents held up by live electrical wires, the insulation that surrounded our HVAC ducting was infested with mice, the original ceiling had beams splitting from structural damage. Sunlight could be seen in numerous locations through the cinderblock walls where framing and drywall had been strategically omitted for maximum frustration. Looking back, it’s striking that none of this fazed us. We pushed on through the renovation, adding each shortfall to a list of things we were excited to improve.

When we jumped in to opening HCC at The Appleworks, we knew we had just enough know how to make the production space renovation happen without hiring anything out aside of electrical. When I say just enough, I mean that we knew how to do 60% of the tasks at hand, learned 20% on the fly, and accomplished the rest with a seemingly outrageous streak of blind luck. The day we proved to ourselves we could build a walk in cooler for 10% of the cost of a new install remains one of the more glorious days in this company’s short history.

All in all, we demoed, framed, dry walled, painted, ground, spackled, sanded, and troubleshot until we were happy with our new home. Instead of giving you a monotonous description of that process; check out the photo journal of the build out below. Cheers, and DIY or Die.