The owners of DogMaster Distillery discuss what keeps them connected outside of the distillery, their love for each other, and how we have Van’s mother to thank for all of it!
How did you meet?
Van: My mother told me that she worked with a young lady that I should meet. She gave me Lisa’s phone number and I took it from there. We spoke over the phone a few times for a couple of months before we even met.
What was your first date?
Van: Lisa was living in St. Joseph, Missouri, and I lived in Little Rock. I flew in to meet her and she gave me a tour of her hometown complete with dinner, drinks, dancing, and an unfortunate bowling outing.
Lisa: He wanted a very St. Joe experience, so we ate at the Bucket Shop (where we also had our rehearsal dinner) and then went dancing and bowling.
What keeps you busy during the week?
V: Working at DogMaster Distillery occupies most of my week and weekend.
L: Work obviously keeps us very busy, but we are also very social, so we spend as much time with friends as possible.
What’s it like to work together?
V: Our combined skills complement each other quite well. Lisa is a process-oriented person and is very organized. I am outgoing and hospitable. We use our abilities to grow our business as best we know how. Unfortunately, even though our skills complement each other, they can also cause conflict. When that happens, we do what we can to work out whatever issue we have.
What is your favorite restaurant in Columbia?
L: For me, it’s India House. From the very first time I enjoyed a meal there, it has felt very much like home. Although I am from a rural area and never had Indian food until well into my adult years, there is something so comforting about the food and the kindness of the owners that it feeds my heart as well as my stomach.
V: I am a big fan of barbecue, and my two favorite restaurants are D. Rowe’s and Como Smoke and Fire. I love them for the food they provide and not just for the fact that they carry DogMaster Products.
What is your favorite art/culture activity in Columbia?
L: There are too many to choose just one. I serve on the Commission on Cultural Affairs and I am amazed by the number of activities that are available in this community. One of my guilty pleasures is to see a film at Ragtag by myself and eat the entire bucket of popcorn with a couple of glasses of wine.
What are some of your favorite outdoor activities?
V: Lisa enjoys the local hiking trails, and I enjoy playing the most evil and frustrating game ever conceived, which is golf.
L: Hiking, boating, playing softball (on a super non-competitive team of course), playing golf, picnics, bourbon and cigars on the patio — I really enjoy just being outside.
What is the best quality of your partner?
L: He is one of the smartest people I know and is very humble about it. He likes to refer to himself as “just a dumb Oklahoma farm boy,” and that could not be further from the truth.
V: Lisa is one of the most giving people I know. She is generous with her time and talents to a fault.
What is the key to a lasting and healthy relationship?
V: Understanding that we are two very different individuals with different needs. Being understanding of each other and giving each other that space we need to be a healthy individual leads to a healthy relationship for us.
L: I am not sure; I think it differs for everyone. I think giving each other the opportunity to be their own person is critical.
What is unique about your relationship?
V: As I mentioned earlier, I met Lisa through my mother, so I guess you could say that we had an “arranged marriage.” I’m kidding! We clicked the moment we met, and we are still finding areas where we complement each other.
L: We are a non-traditional family. We do not have children, we’ve started a business in a unique industry — we don’t fit into the middle-age mold.
What does the future hold for the two of you?
L: That is a great question. I feel like I am just hitting my stride, so I tease Van about needing to “eat his Wheaties” so that he can keep up! Hopefully, more adventures are ahead!
V: Without tipping our hand, we have a couple of projects we are working on, so all I have to say is, “Lots of stuff.”
What has been your favorite project to work on together?
V: When we opened our business in Columbia, we wanted to be good community partners. A few years ago, we were asked to be part of a fundraiser for the Access Arts program. I had an idea where we participated in a performance art piece, and Lisa channeled her inner artist to create something worthy of hanging on your wall.