The New Glarus Journey
“My basic rule of thumb is, I do not start fights, but by god, I will finish them. I do not loose.” This is just one small example of the tenacity that founder and president of New Glarus Brewing Company, Deb Carey, portrays.
Deb is truly a model example of a woman with a dream who isn’t afraid to do what her gut instincts tell her to do. She’s not worried about following the crowd or living in an idealistic world. She’s a risk taker and it’s paid off in more ways than one. I could listen to her speak all day and it was all I could do to not burst out in cheers at the end of the session. Deb’s many years of industry knowledge, and her top performance in the craft beer industry are an inspiration, to say the very least. She and her husband, Dan Carey, provided a wealth of knowledge from their 20+ years of experience. Here are just a few of my favorite highlights!
When Asked About Starting a Brewery Business
Deb said this: “I took classes on cash flow, read good books, and got educated on business. As far as help with putting together projections, a lot of people helped us with our numbers. If you have good suppliers they can help you. The craft brewers association is a good place to be a member- they offer lots of resources. Go work in the business. If you go work, even if it sucks, you will learn the things that are clever and the things that are foolish. When we go out for dinner with other people in the industry, we talk about the ups and downs of starting the business. You have to go in on a shoestring, just as tight and as small of money as possible so that you can keep the control. Make sure the first year you write down everything that you spend. Take the time to work in the industry and write a business plan. Don’t buy something today that isn’t going to get beer out the door. Time is money but more importantly, don’t spend money on things that don’t get a lid on the can and beer out the door. When you think you have a lot of money, building a brewery can cost a lot of money. Save as much money as you can!”
On Going Out of Business
“If you are going to go out of business, do it with dignity and don’t take the rest of us down with you.”- Deb
Talking about Target Market and Selling Close to Home
Dan had this to say: Think about who your target market is, what to they want and how are you going to address those problems. If you take care of the little problems the big problems will take care of themselves. In order to be a successful brewer you have to think about everybody everywhere. I divide out the beers into different consumers. Really the hard part is putting the attention where it needs to be. 90% of people don’t really care about beer, they want to have a good time, go out with their friends, etc. Think about what they want, not what you want. I try to always remember I’m marketing to normal people, not beer geeks.
The thing about selling beer far from home is there is a diminishing value. Owning a local market makes you more profitable. Since we are only in one state, Deb is able to drill deep in the market and really build a relationship with the wholesalers.
On Not Giving Into Outside Pressures
When you make a really good beer, wholesalers will tell you to make another one. I don’t need to do that. I need to just focus on the one that’s really working. If you are working on a stout and you think it’s a damn good stout, just focus on that. What would be really sad is to fail on someone else’s advice.
If you haven’t gathered already, this 1.5 hour long session was packed with years of knowledge. It was such a pleasure to listen to Deb and Dan Carey share about their journey. Now, I’ve got to get to Wisconsin to pick up some New Glarus!
by Jamie Engelhardt, Operations and Marketing Manager, Lance CPA Group