Brewbound Live 2019: Peter Bissell Shares Unconventional Leadership Advice

Bissell Brothers Brewing Company co-founder Peter Bissell shared management advice gleaned from his six years running one of Portland, Maine’s most popular craft breweries with his brother during last month’s Brewbound Live business conference in Santa Monica.

Peter and Noah Bissell founded Bissell Brothers in 2013, and they have since ridden a wave of explosive growth behind the popularity of hazy New England IPAs. In 2014, the company’s first full year in operation, Bissell Brothers produced 550 barrels, according to the Brewers Association. According to Peter Bissell, the company’s 2019 production is estimated around 10,000 barrels.

With that fast growth, the Bissell brothers have had to learn more about the business than producing hazy IPAs and pale ales.

“We also had to learn how to manage people, which is a whole different skill set than learning how to make New England IPA,” Peter Bissell said.

In his talk, Bissell discussed leadership, staff and culture cultivation, time management as a business owner and “running your own race” while avoiding comparing business performances in an industry with nearly 8,000 unique breweries.

“We tend to homogenize what success means in this industry,” he said. “We tend to homogenize the paths to get there.”

Bissell has sought wisdom from outside the beer industry in developing his own leadership style and learned that, as a co-owner of the company, all failures and successes stop with him. Embracing this, rather than making excuses, sets an example for staff, he added.

“Extreme ownership creates confident, loyal employees,” he said.

Bissell Brothers employs about 30 people with very little turnover, something Bissell attributes to a careful hiring process that considers candidates’ fit within the existing company culture. The company stresses training for all staff and a typical work week is between 35 and 38 hours to allow employees to balance their personal and professional lives.

“Your staff gets more valuable with every year that goes by because they know more,” Bissell said.

Watch his entire talk above, and subscribe to Brewbound on YouTube to see more presentations from the conference.

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