Ferndale distillery announces 10-year, $500K sustainability initiative

Rifino Valentine wants to know when companies stopped putting their products before their profits.

It’s what inspired him to start Valentine Distilling Co. in 2007. Though the Ferndale-based spirits-maker has benefited from the relatively recent trend of local craft distillers and brewers, Valentine says that what has always motivated him is quality.

Valentine has since garnered an additional motivator: Sustainability.

It all started about five years ago when the company opened its 20,000 sq. ft. production facility.

It takes a lot of resources to make spirits like vodka and gin. When the company significantly increased production, Valentine saw just how many more resources his company was using.

He’s since announced a 10-Year Climate Sustainability Initiative that will result in Valentine investing approximately $500,000 in their sustainability efforts.

"Let’s make things the right way and let’s be responsible in manufacturing. Let’s prove we can do this responsibly," Valentine says.

"Some of these things that we’re doing will benefit us in the longer run and some might not. But that doesn’t mean we can’t invest in it and make it a priority."

Valentine has purchased a cooling tower for the spirits still, an approximately $50,000 piece of equipment. As the still uses about 2,000 gallons of processed water per day, the cooling tower allows the company to recirculate that water, rather than waste it.

The company is also working on installing LED lights and a more energy efficient boiler. A farm-to-bottle-to-farm policy has Valentine purchasing grains from Midwestern farmers, using what they need, and returning the remnants to farmers for cattle feed.

Future plans include harnessing wind and solar power to offset energy usage, with the goal of becoming as close to a net-zero energy building as possible.

"Maybe we’re not going to be as profitable as other companies--we are still profitable, but we’re not going to engorge ourselves on our profits," Valentine says.

"I don’t need a 150 ft. yacht. Let’s get back to what’s really important."

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.