018: Greg Parker – Iron Horse Brewery

Episode 018:

  • Greg Parker is an owner and the vice president of Iron Horse which was purchased in 2007.  All it took was for Greg to convince his wife that packing up and moving across two states with a small child and another on the way to buy into a failing brewery was a good idea!

Worst Business Moment:

  • Greg’s transfer times were and hour and forty five minutes at least. They determined their heat x was under sized.  They replaced it with money they didn’t really have and it didn’t work!  The transfer time was not any faster.  Come to find out the heat x wasn’t undersized, just hooked up incorrectly……

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • What should have been an immediate “Light Bulb” moment for Greg and Iron Horse was more like “someone turning on a dimmer switch.” The marked kept telling them Irish Death, Irish Death, but the brewery kept push brown or cream ales.  It took about 6-months for them to realize that they needed to listen this consistent message from their market place.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Go rent a van! “

Links:

017: Peter Zien – AleSmith Brewing Co.

Episode 017:

  • Peter Zien is owner and CEO of AleSmith which he started in 1995.  AleSmith was founded in a small single-unit space in the commercial district of Miramar , San Diego which was packed with a 15 bbl brew system, a tasting bar, an office and a three man team.

Worst Business Moment:

  • In the early 2000’s watching the orders come in was really depressing for Peter.  Peter had a lot of beer to sell and wanted to be selling pallets, but the orders coming in were for 5 cases of this or 2 half barrels of that…….

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • In 2008, Peter literally cashed in all his “chips” to purchase a new brew house……when it came time for the Great American Beer Festival, he was broke – couldn’t go, but they sent 5 beers.  Several of those beers won medals and then AleSmith won small brewer of the year.  One of AleSmith’s proudest moments happened at one of the lowest moments financial, but it was a HUGE “Ah-ha” moment where Peter realized AleSmith was going to make it, he was going to make it………….

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Practice integrity in every thing you do and you’ll never have to seek out an opportunity….they’ll come find you “

Links:

016: Brian Dunn – Great Divide Brewing Co.

Episode 016:

  • Brian Dunn is the founder and president of Great Divide which he started in 1994.  After college, Brian spent time overseas and developed a passion for unique and different beers.  Upon returning to the states, starting to home brew and graduating from graduate school, Brian started what would become one of the countries most decorated and celebrated craft breweries.

Worst Business Moment:

  • You have a dream, you have a solid business plan and you’ve raised some start up capital from friends and family……..but you are still $50,000 short of what you need.  Then you turn to your friendly neighborhood bank to look for help, but eleven, that’s right 11, banks say “No”.  That’s a pretty discouraging moment in time.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Brian quickly realized that people wanted to meet, know and interact with the folks who made the beer they enjoyed.  When they started, they had no tap room, weren’t in the nicest part of town, but their policy was if you can find the brewery, knock on the door and we’ll show you around.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “If you really care about the business you’ll find a way to overcome the obstacles”

Links:

015: Bjorn Nabozney – Big Sky Brewing Co.

Episode 015:

  • Bjorn Nabozney is a co-founder of Big Sky Brewing Co. in Missoula, MT.  Big Sky opened up in 1995, produced 48,000 bbls of beer last year and are by far the largest brewery in the state.

Worst Business Moment:

  • When Big Sky set out on their first major expansion in the early 2000’s, they put together the financing to build a new facility.  After delays with construction, equipment and everything else the brewery ended up being $1,000,000 short and 13 days from the bank calling the note. As Bjorn put it “It was terrifying!!”

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Though they didn’t think about it at the time, their Moose Drool Brown Ale from a marketing stand point worked so well for a Montana brewery.  Moose Drool became an identifier nationwide and according to a university study, Moose Drool was coined as the 5th most recognizable thing about the state of Montana.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Be patient…things have a tendency to work themselves out”

Links:

014: Gregg Berman – Clown Shoes Beer

Episode 014:

  • Gregg Berman is the founder of Clown Shoes Beer which started brewing in 2009. Clown Shoes came about when a liquor store owner loved craft beer so much that they decided to venture out, develop a brand and make their own beer.

Worst Business Moment:

  • While Clown Shoes has been very fortunate over the years with no major setbacks, they have had a couple of frustrating situations including getting sued by another company due to a name they were using for one of their beers.  While this wasn’t a high point for Clown Shoes, they changed the name, poked a little fun at the legal system and were able to get some good publicity out of the deal.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • The realization that Gregg could actually start a craft beer brand was the first “light bulb” moment for him……but so was going national.  The moment Gregg realized that people might enjoy his beer in other states and when he started researching this possibility was another pretty big “Ah-ha moment” for Clown Shoes as well.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Be sure you work with people who pay their bills”

Links:

013: Tom Davis – Thomas Creek Brewery

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Episode 013:

  • Tom Davis is the owner, brewmaster and brewery manager of Thomas Creek that started in 1998. Tom started home brewing at an early age then venture into commercial brewing at a local Greenville brewpub before starting Thomas Creek which is now one of South Carolina’s largest breweries.

Worst Business Moment:

  • The largest single hit to Thomas Creek back in the early days was realizing that all distributors were NOT created equal and the beer simply isn’t going to sell itself…….and its been kind of a long uphill battle to recover.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • One of Tom’s first sales people came to Tom and said “You need to make a red ale…” Tom’s response was “Killian’s is everywhere, how are we going to compete with that?”  Fast forward a year or sold later and that “Aha” moment happened……Someone came in and said “You make the Killian’s Killer, don’t you?”

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Do your own selling”

Links:

012: Bailey Spaulding – Jackalope Brewing Company

Episode 012:

  • Bailey Spaulding is the Co-Founder, CEO and Brewmaster of Jackalope which opened its doors in May 2011. Originally from Vermont, Bailey started home brewing while in law school and quickly realized beer was much more interesting than studying law.

Worst Business Moment:

  • Bailey was bleeding money, only open for four hours a week, piecing her equipment together because it showed up without manuals plus her pumps and control panel were wired incorrectly…..they finally thought they got the pump wired correctly, but if it wasn’t the pump would burn up.  They would then have to spend the money to buy a new one and be delayed another three weeks. This was a really low moment for Bailey and the crew.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • A moment when Bailey thought and felt that Jackalope was a “real” business was when she was able to offer health insurance to her employees.  This was one of her favorite moments as an employer……

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Find what you love to do in life and con someone into giving you the money to do it “

Links:

011: Tom Wilmoth – Zipline Brewing Company

Episode 011:

  • Tom Wilmoth is a co-founder of Zipline Brewing Co which was started in 2012 in Lincoln, NE. Zipline has enjoyed solid steady growth and is currently one of Nebraska’s largest breweries.

Worst Business Moment:

  • It’s New Year’s day and your phone rings…….your business partner, brewmaster and friend is on the other end and says “Hey, you know that cut on my hand that won’t heal?…….well, turns out I have leukemia.”

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Tom and his partners had been dreaming and talking about starting a brewery for years…..they were all having similar conversations with other people, but didn’t know they were having the exact same conversation for the most part.  Once a mutual friend got them together in the same room, they started talking the same language and were now talking to the right people – each other.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Make sure you make good beer and everything else will take care of itself “

Links:

010: Jason Wilson – Back Forty Beer Company

Episode 010:

  • Jason Wilson is the founder and president of Back Forty which he started in 2009, though the planning and preparation for opening the brewery started many years before.

Worst Business Moment:

  • Two businesses basically being run out of one bank account……contract brewing in the southern part of the state while building out your production facility in the northern region and then you have an accidental contamination issue with about 1200 cases of beer….that almost drove Jason to say “I surrender!”

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • So what do you do with 1200 cases of beer with a lactobacillus contamination??……….you make malt vinegar of course!!

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “If no one seems to measure up to your standards, then maybe its time to check your yard stick”

Links:

009: Alan Pugsley – Pugsley Brewing Projects Intl.

Episode 009:

  • Alan Pugsley is a world renowned Master Brewer, co-founder of Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, ME and President of Puglsey’s Brewing Projects international.

Worst Business Moment:

  • It’s the mid 90’s, you ink a partnership deal with Miller Brewing Company only to watch your barrel production drop from 40,000bbls to 25,000bbls over the course of the next twelve months…….talk about depressing!

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • When Alan first came to the state, he helped David Geary establish his brewery.  After receiving verbal instructions of the type a beer David was looking for, Alan brewed up the first batch and finally let David have a drink…..David took a sip, swished it around with a serious look on his face.  Then he said with a big smile on his face “Hmm…Geary’s Pale Ale…that’s it, you got it.” At that point in time Alan thought to himself, “Wow, I think I made it”…..making it from the Peter Austin apprenticeship to being able to do this beer thing on his own.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Buy the best raw materials that money can buy……clean the brewery from head to toe, all the time……boil the brew kettle hard……and pray to God!”

Links: