Co-founders of three breweries in Brewbound’s 2019 class of Rising Stars discussed their companies’ growth strategies and management techniques during a panel earlier this month at the Brewbound Live business conference in Santa Monica.
The panel featured Adam Robbings, co-founder and brewmaster of Seattle-based Reuben’s Brews; Jeff Heck, co-founder and CEO of Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing; and Ryan Krill, co-founder and CEO of Cape May Brewing in Cape May, New Jersey. All three began their brewing careers as homebrewers and have grown their businesses to 20,000-plus barrels over the past decade.
The three discussed financial guardrails, employee engagement and innovation strategies that have led to their successes. All three co-founders agreed that open communication with staff and regular employee surveys help their companies stay on track.
Though all three companies produce similar volumes annually, their operations vary. Cape May Brewing created Cape Beverage Distributing to sell its products and others within New Jersey and in the Philadelphia area. Monday Night Brewing operates two taprooms in the Atlanta area and one in Birmingham, Alabama, and distributes in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. Reuben’s Brews operates two taprooms in Seattle and distributes within three states in the Pacific Northwest.
Even though Reuben’s Brews expanded into a new production facility earlier this year, the company has maintained reasonable growth expectations.
“You need to make sure you have enough capital so you don’t start making bad long-term decisions for short-term necessity,” he said.
One of the pillars behind Monday Night Brewing’s success is constant innovation, Heck said.
“The good news in beer is you have a pretty short cycle time to see if you’ve got a new product that works,” he said.
Watch their conversation above, and subscribe to Brewbound on YouTube to see more presentations from Brewbound Live.