In the 1930s Vladimir met Rudolph Kunett, a Russian who had emigrated to America in 1920. The Kunett family had been a supplier of spirits to Smirnoff in Moscow before the Revolution. In 1933 Vladimir sold Kunett the right to begin producing Smirnoff vodka in North America. However, the business in America was not as successful as Kunett had hoped. In 1938 Kunett couldn't afford to pay for the necessary sales licenses, and contacted John Martin, president of Heublein, who agreed to buy the rights to Smirnoff for the value of the distilling equipment. His board thought he was mad. Sales were very slow until they changed the product to use whiskey corks instead. In Kentucky sales rocketed as the distributor started marketing Smirnoff as 'white whiskey, no taste, no smell'.