Owners, John and Courtney McKee began their journey creating Headframe Spirits in 2010, opening their tasting room doors in 2012. Since then, they have not only won awards and accolades for their products, but also for their impact to their community and state. In 2014 Governor Bullock recognized John and Courtney as Entrepreneurs of the Year and in 2015 as Ambassadors of the Year by the Montana Office of Tourism. Recently, they were award 2016 Small Business Champions of the Year by the Small Business Administration.
Headframe Spirits is proud to announce we are now a Certified B Corporation® as of January 2017. We will be joining global innovators in a movement to use business as a force for good. Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests, and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand. There are more than 1,200 Certified B Corporations from over 120 industries and nearly 50 countries with 1 unifying goal – to redefine success in business.
Headframe Spirits is among five other organizations in Montana to be a Certified B Corporation®. We hope to inspire the business community to join our efforts to redefine corporate practices and elevate business life in Montana.
“Our company is a mouthpiece for our values,” expressed Headframe Spirits CEO, Courtney McKee. “We believe in making the world a better place, even if it’s just our tiny corner of the world. The opportunity to add value is as close as we get to a mandate to do so. We take that seriously and we understand that the better each of us does, the better we all do together.”
John McKee is the founder of Headframe Spirits and its manufacturing and consulting arm. Over the last 3 years he opened a distillery in Montana centered around its custom continuous flow distillation system, which Headframe Spirits Manufacturing now fabricates for 3rd party clients. To add to the success of the last three years, John and his wife Courtney McKee were named the 2013 Montana Entrepreneurs of the Year.
Previous to Headframe Spirits John most recently served as Project & Startup Manager for Nova Biosource Fuels, Inc. In that role, he was involved in the pilot-scale trials and scale up of Nova’s proprietary technology for a 10 MGY refinery. Over the course of the next few years, Mr. McKee jointly oversaw all aspects of site construction, refinery commissioning & shakeout, turn-arounds, and operator training on facilities ranging from 10-60 MGY.
John is dad to two fantastic children and, when not at Headframe Spirits, can generally be found on a body of water somewhere in Western Montana.
Courtney was raised in Connecticut and moved to Montana to attend the University of Montana, where she received a BA in English Literature. Passionate about Montana, Courtney came to Butte in 2001 where she owned and operated an Information Technology consulting company for a number of years before getting into the distilled spirits business. Courtney and her husband John own Headframe Spirits in Butte, which opened in 2012, and were named Entrepreneurs and Ambassadors of the Year by Governor Steve Bullock in 2014 and 2015. Headframe Spirits currently employs 27 individuals and has made a significant economic impact in their community. The company is equal parts history and technology, which derives from the rich history and ingenuity that the beautiful hometown of Butte has to offer.
Headframe Spirits produces the popular micro-distilled spirits from Butte, America of the award-winning Neversweat Whiskey, High Ore Vodka, Anselmo Gin, and Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur. Headframe Spirits operates a tasting room, manufactures state-of-the-art distillation equipment, and offers co-packaging/production to the distillation industry. Headframe Spirits is the only company in the world which produces continuous flow distillation equipment for the micro-distilling industry.
Courtney is passionately engaged in developing corporate culture and establishing leadership roles for her employees. As well as empowering her corporate community, she is also committed to fostering opportunities for other entrepreneurs in Montana through the Distiller’s Guild of Montana, and has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine.
Montana born and raised, Heidi began her career as a merchandiser and an all around restaurant guru, but most immediately was a day care provider. Running her own business with 15 kids running amuck, needless to say, led her straight to the Tasting Room.
Heidi volunteered with Headframe Spirits through the dirty work of remodeling, then worked the tasting room as a volunteer cocktail slinger. Playing on old cocktail classics and tweaking modern favorites, Heidi cemented her place in the history of Headframe as its first official employee when she decided to give up the daycare gig for a new and exciting career change.
Currently, Heidi has 10 spirit slingers that she wrangles with great pride. Because Heidi understands how distinct the spirits of Headframe are, she inspires creativity and challenges her staff to experiment with the unique flavors and botanicals with regular menu additions and seasonal favorites. Overall, Heidi takes on the great responsibility of making sure the tasting room is an energetic, comfortable, welcoming, historic, sometimes chaotic but mostly fantastic place to be.
Outside of her responsibilities at Headframe, family life is important to Heidi as well. She enjoys spending time at the cabin with her family and friends, where the hostess in her continues to shine.
A Montana native, Cassandra Sunell, graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and has a background primarily in sales, marketing, and event planning. Cassandra’s passion is deeply rooted in the collaboration within Montana and its communities. She is the Founder/Curator of TEDxWhitefish, Vice President of Share Your Voice Foundation, 2014 Executive Coordinator for HATCH, co-organizer of Women Who Wiki in Missoula, served on the board for Flathead Area Young Professionals, and was the Production Coordinator for the Orphan Girl Film. She has been featured on the cover of 406 Woman’s Business Issue, The Washington Post, Daily Interlake, and Denver’s ICOSA Radio. Cassandra is the Chief Marketing Officer for Headframe Spirits, coordinating all marketing efforts as well as the director for sales and distribution.
Chris Byles has been working in alcohol manufacturing in the North Texas area for the past nine years.
A life-long tinkerer and perfectionist, Chris met his first business partner online. Together they founded DeLos Vodka which soon became North Texas Distillers. During his tenure there as Vice President of Operations and Head Distiller, Chris went from creating one product to creating, designing and formulating products for 14 other brands including a whiskey and honey whiskey for Trinity River Distillery.
In 2013 Trinity River Distillery started its renovation of a 106 year old building. This project included Chris being able to completely design all of his distillation equipment and the entire facility including production, offices and tasting room from an historic factory in Fort Worth.
Chris’ passion and knowledge in distilling has become very evident with the mentoring he has done for other distillers in the area. He has not only assisted other distilleries with their business and products but has built lifelong friendships with distillers all over. He heavily believes in sharing the knowledge he has gained to help others put out the best products possible.
Chris was raised in suburban Dallas and relocates to Butte from suburban Fort Worth with his long time sweetheart, Amanda and his co-dependent Olde English Bulldogge, Sheamus B. Byles. After a trip to the mountains in spring of this year, they hatched a plan to get out of the big city. Chris enjoys playing golf, fishing, mountain biking, and pretty much anything outdoors.
Wylie, the Distillery Dog at Headframe Spirits, was born to a breeder and entered Golden Retriever rescue through Montana’s Precious Gold. He was fostered then adopted by John and Courtney McKee. Wylie takes his job at Headframe Spirits very seriously and strives to provide excellent customer service and love to all tasting room patrons. When not working, Wylie can be found within 5 feet of Courtney, wherever that may take him.
When you're in Butte swing by the Distillery and introduce yourself. We love getting to know the folks who share our passion. Cheers, John & Courtney.