Buster’s Beverage Company is a family run business located in Beit Shemesh, a region situated around 30km west of Jerusalem. Husband and wife duo Pam and Denny Neilson, who emigrated from the US to Israel in 2003, run the company alongside their son Matt, one of their four children, who handles sales and Hebrew logistics, in addition to a fourth employee who handles customer services. “We’re a small team, but then again we’re a young business and we are working on growing our services in the right increments,” says Pam.
Soon after arriving in Israel, Denny opened a store called “Winemaker,” selling beer and wine making supplies, whilst Pam worked until recently as Director of incoming Tourism at Promised Land Tours, a company which she co-founded. “When my son finished the army, he wanted to embark on a family venture and so we decided to enter into the cider market – popular in the States but not yet widespread in Israel,” explains Pam.
The venture began from their home, where the family spent a few years producing Buster’s cider, named in honor of their golden retriever. Buster’s moved to its current facility in 2013, a space currently shared with Shapiro Beer, where they built a cider factory and visitor’s center. “My husband has taught many Israeli microbreweries the art of making beer and so it seemed a natural step to introduce the option into our portfolio, alongside our apple cider, hard lemonade and spirits.” The factory’s line of “Pioneer Spirits” includes arak, brandy and moonshine, which are only available to purchase on site.
“Building a visitor’s center was a conscious decision as we wanted to create an inviting space, designed in an old west American style, where people can explore our entire range and enjoy a drink alongside some pizza on our outdoor deck,” outlines Pam.
Tours & Marketing
The factory offers free walk-in tours in English on Fridays, and pre-arranged tours during the week for a small fee. Tours provide tastings (all products are kosher), insight into how produce is made, and information on where to buy products from the range. “We prefer to offer our tours in English as it evokes a more authentic feel for our brand,” explains Pam. “We’ve provided tours for many international visitors from the US, England and South Africa, in addition to the local market. It’s really about experiencing our story and what brought us here to Israel.”
The company’s strategic marketing approach is focused on expanding its brand through word of mouth, social media, and tour guides, in order to attract a wider audience and provide additional tours. “Although we don’t yet offer daily walk-in tours, our visitor’s center is open Tuesday through Friday and we welcome everyone to stop by and enjoy a drink.”