UTICA, N.Y. — F.X. Matt Brewing Company President Fred Matt vividly recalls May 29, 2008 — the day that a large fire threatened to consume the historic brewery.
“As I stood there on the street next to our employees, customers and friends — our brewery family — I couldn’t help but feel this enormous feeling of dread. I became progressively concerned for the safety of the first responders and I worried if we would even have a place for our employees to come back to.”
Hours later, as smoke continued to float from the crippled building, many across the region wondered whether the company would be able to come back from the damage — about 10 million dollars worth — and if customers would ever be able to enjoy their favorite Saranac again.
“To stand there and see the Matt family’s legacy — a regional landmark — go up in flames was devastating,” said Leigh D’Agostino, manager of the brewery gift shop and tour center.
“We are still so grateful to the firefighters who kept the fire from consuming our whole operation,” CEO Nick Matt said. “If it wasn’t for the outstanding professionalism of all the first responders that day, things could have been a lot worse.”
Five years later, as F.X. Matt Brewing Co., brewers of Saranac, mark their 125th anniversary, Fred and Nick credit that awful fire with sparking a number of positive outcomes.
“Thanks to the tremendous outpouring of support we received from the community and our customers, we were able to look on the positive side,” Nick said. “We knew that we could not only rebuild right here in our historic original location, but we could do things better this time around by using the latest in modern technology.”
Here are just some of the outcomes that helped strengthen F.X. Matt Brewing Co.:
Canning Operations: The new canning machinery has allowed more production flexibility and innovation by accommodating both larger and smaller can sizes. In addition, the machine has streamlined the process.
New Warehouse: At a total of 23,000 square feet, the new warehouse offers abundant room and has a temperature-controlled space that keeps Saranac and Utica Club brews refreshingly crisp.
Safety Improvements: Safety has always been priority for F.X. Matt Brewing Co., but with the help of outside safety consultants and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) programs, the company has implemented a number of additional safety protocols and training.
“It sounds cliché, but a lot of really great things did rise from the ashes of that fire,” Fred said. “Overcoming this obstacle — with the help of our loyal customers — is just another reason we are looking forward to celebrating our 125th anniversary this year.”
About F.X. Matt Brewing Company
F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica, N.Y., was founded in 1888. Today, under the leadership of the third and fourth generations of the Matt family, the brewery is celebrating 125 years of brewing. Through a commitment to innovation and brewing excellence, the company has earned a reputation as one of the country’s most respected brewers of craft beers, including the Saranac line. In each bottle of Saranac, you’ll find exceptional quality, distinctive ingredients and a refreshing twist on tradition — the signature of the F.X. Matt Brewing Company.
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