The TeamMeet the People Behind KO Distilling

Our Team


Bill Karlson

Co-Founder & CEO

Originally from Bowie, MD, Bill graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY with degrees in both Marine Transportation and Marine Engineering.  He sailed briefly in the maritime industry then began a 26-year career with Stanley, Inc., a northern VA government contracting firm.  Bill served as a Stanley Senior Vice President and as a member of the publicly traded company’s Board of Directors.  He received his Masters degree from George Mason University in Software Systems Engineering.

Bill's favorite spirit: Bourbon on the Rocks


John O'Mara

Co-Founder, President & Head Distiller

John grew up in Woodbridge, VA and has been a Manassas resident for 17 years. He has lived in Prince William County since 1967 and is a 1978 graduate of Gar-Field High School. John then attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, where he received his degree in Marine Engineering. Following graduation, he sailed on his U.S. Coast Guard Third Assistant Engineer merchant mariner’s license for 2 years. John worked in the defense contracting industry for 28 years. He was Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of OAK Management, Inc., which was acquired by ECS-Federal in 2012. John is a 2013 graduate of the Moonshine University Distilling course in Louisville, KY.

John's favorite spirit:  Battle Standard 142 Navy Strength Dirty Martini


Ryan Hendricks


Joining KO Distilling in 2014, Ryan holds an M.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.S. in Chemical Physics from Michigan State University.  During his graduate studies, he was a member of the Artisan Distilled Spirits program, assisting with both the manufacture of spirits and the teaching of classes and workshops.  Ryan worked as a Distillery Technician for Red Cedar Spirits in East Lansing, Michigan and also interned with Jim Beam in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is an experienced distiller who has assisted many small distilleries across the United States.  Ryan is a 2015 graduate of Moonshine U. 

Ryan's favorite spirit:  Rye Bourbon with a Splash of Bitters


Peter Mowery

Customer Experience Director

Joining KO Distilling in 2015, Peter is a long time resident of Northern Virginia; growing up in Chantilly and living in Manassas. Peter attended Virginia Tech where he honed his leadership skills as a member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, and the Virginia Tech Management Society. After receiving his B.S. in Business Management, Peter spent 5 years working in retail management before bringing his leadership and customer service talents to KO.

Peter’s favorite spirit: Whiskey Sour

Scott Billups Picture for Website

Scott Billups

DC Marketing/Sales Lead

Born in Washington DC, Scott earned his BBA in Marketing from Howard University and an MBA in Finance from University of the District of Columbia. He has over 20 years of Sales Marketing experience working in the fields of professional sports and medical sales. Scott brings a dynamic vision and a passion for quality spirits to KO Distilling.

Peter’s favorite spirit: Two finger pour of Bourbon on the Rocks

Supporting the Community

Prior to its Grand Opening in the fall of 2015, KO Distilling has already provided support to the community. The company has donated to the National Children’s Hospital, Ducks Unlimited in Prince William County, and the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce – to name a few. Looking forward, KO Distilling will support other local, state and national organizations in an effort to give something back to the community. Follow us on social media for updates on our company’s support efforts.


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