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Thread: Need advice on "the right" person.....

  1. #1
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    Need advice on "the right" person.....

    No, not the right person to marry.....

    We have a great little home brewery (well, it's a pretty big home brewery, but would be small to you guys) and have had some very good success/luck. We have a nice business plan drawn up, a great political environment for craft brewing right now, a great potential space and brand, funding, and some pretty solid brewing knowledge. What we don't have is that one person to make it go. There's three of us that are the main drivers, but all 3 of us have jobs that we can't leave (well, we could, but we'd be stupid to do it).

    I see the "right person" as someone who puts in 70hours a week even if their only paid for 50 (but I'd reward them with bonuses), and is very proud of their product, and shows up when their back hurts or they have a sniffle, and will come in Saturday at 17:00 to pull SG's or do a transfer, etc. It's the heart I worry about. I can teach them about pH and flow and heat and yeast, and I can send them for training, but a gamble like a new brewery will always fail (or at least stumble) without "the right" person.

    Am I wrong?? I know bloody well this can work, but I also know that 7 or 10 or 20 days of lost production because someone throws a tantrum and quits would be very bad. My job doesn't allow the flexibility to cover on short notice.

    Thx for any and all advice.

    -J.
    Last edited by Jer; 01-21-2017 at 02:49 AM.

  2. #2
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    Are you kidding? People in the brewing industry need to be paid a good living wage and also be allowed to have a life! How many hours do you work at the job you have that you stated you would be crazy to quit?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiminOz View Post
    Are you kidding? People in the brewing industry need to be paid a good living wage and also be allowed to have a life! How many hours do you work at the job you have that you stated you would be crazy to quit?
    Did you see any goofy emoticons or "LOL"s in my post?? No, you didn't, and no, I'm not kidding - not even a little bit.

    Did I say they should be paid like crap? No. Did I say they can't have a life? No. Did I say their hard work and production would be rewarded with bonuses? Yes.

    How much do I work in the job I can't/shouldn't leave now?? Anywhere from 40-80 hours a week. How many hours per week did I spend to get to where I am today?? Most weeks 100+, for 6+ years. Any other questions?

    My question is he genuine. Does anyone who is an owner, or has an owners mindset, and is familiar with what is needed to make a new brewery a success in North America, have any real-world advice that doesn't start with "are you kidding"??

    -J.

    ps - does Premier Stainless often introduce themselves to potential customers with "are you kidding"??
    Last edited by Jer; 01-21-2017 at 03:12 AM.

  4. #4
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    Reno, Nevada USA
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    Your Brewery

    How large is your brewery (bbl's) and layout. is it Production, Brewpub..?
    I was able to get our annual capacity up to 1500/bbls with me working the entire brewery from wort production through to packaging. Then had volunteers to assist
    on the bottle line.
    Brew days would be 6 hrs from Mash in to to Clean-up. Good equipment matters.
    Cellaring happens during brew
    Packaging 1 Day 12/hr shift
    Realistically I cant remember ever working over 45 Hours Sometimes less.
    I worked our make shift taproom to fill growlers for the afternoon work crowd.
    Beer deliveries were done while driving home
    Book work done while eating dinner/ Accountant took care of all Gov't fillings.
    And I was able to race in Baja 7 weeks a year.
    Efficiency, Planning and a Good support group make for a good business model.
    Just as our Brewery was it was a multiple person ownership structure that tore us apart. I wish I could have bought all them out. It was bitter sweet until I looked at my bank statement the next day.
    Now I run a Malting Company.

    Lance Jergensen
    Rebel Malting Co
    Reno, Nevada USA
    ljergensen@rebelmalting.com

  5. #5
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    Polson, Montana, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
    No, not the right person to marry.....

    We have a great little home brewery (well, it's a pretty big home brewery, but would be small to you guys) and have had some very good success/luck. We have a nice business plan drawn up, a great political environment for craft brewing right now, a great potential space and brand, funding, and some pretty solid brewing knowledge. What we don't have is that one person to make it go. There's three of us that are the main drivers, but all 3 of us have jobs that we can't leave (well, we could, but we'd be stupid to do it).

    I see the "right person" as someone who puts in 70hours a week even if their only paid for 50 (but I'd reward them with bonuses), and is very proud of their product, and shows up when their back hurts or they have a sniffle, and will come in Saturday at 17:00 to pull SG's or do a transfer, etc. It's the heart I worry about. I can teach them about pH and flow and heat and yeast, and I can send them for training, but a gamble like a new brewery will always fail (or at least stumble) without "the right" person.

    Am I wrong?? I know bloody well this can work, but I also know that 7 or 10 or 20 days of lost production because someone throws a tantrum and quits would be very bad. My job doesn't allow the flexibility to cover on short notice.

    Thx for any and all advice.

    -J.
    Hi J,
    I am an owner and operator of a production microbrewery. When I first read your post, it struck me how closely you were describing parts of my life experiences these last 15+ years. I also consult on brewery startups and expansions if you would require more in-depth advice and guidance. At any rate, please feel free to contact me directly with specific questions and concerns. I understand where you are and what you are feeling. Email me info@glacierbrewing.com or call during the week at (406) 883-2595.

    Prost!
    Dave
    Last edited by GlacierBrewing; 01-21-2017 at 09:42 AM.
    Glacier Brewing Company
    406-883-2595
    glacierbrewing@bresnan.net

    "who said what now?"

  6. #6
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    Thx Lance and Dave. Both very insightful and helpful.

    Lance - what is it about multiple ownership that goes so wrong?? I've heard this sentiment before, but there's still part of me that thinks about "teamwork" and all that BS. Maybe I'm just being a flake. I'm glad to hear that you were able to produce that much, and still get out a lot. The talks our group has had is that the startup times for our brewery would be a real grind for 1-3 years.

    Our plan right now is one of two options - start with our little 1BBL nano (1.3ish BBL BH, 6x 1BBL FV's, 1x 2BBL BBT) for 6-18 months as a proof of concept, or just man up, say "we know what we know", take 350K in financing, and jump in with a 10BBL system and get to work. With a 10BBL system I was hoping to get upwards of 3500-5000BBL per year with double batching, etc. Now - I realize that one person can't do that, but I need that one person that runs it, and fills in if one of the labourers flakes out.

    We have 15-20 offers for tap spaces already, with possible opportunities to distribute in Vancouver as well. Here at home we'd set up what amounts to a taproom. The local government has made it very very palatable to be a craft brewery right now, and has allowed growler fill establishments to also serve pints, so essentially a pub. I have no delusions of thinking that I know how to run a kitchen, but that would be something I would take on a kitchen partner for. I have less trepidation about having a kitchen partner as I'd make that "their thing", and we'd do ours.

    Dave - thanks for that offer. I have enjoyed your no nonsense/common sense posts. I'm really glad you chime'd in. Some consultancy and/or a visit to your show, if we do go ahead, would be great value and money well spent for me. Anytime I can get to the MT mountains is a good idea to me!!!

    We've been brewing for about 23 months now. We've had ups and down, a couple storm outs, etc. My wife and I have made it crystal clear that everyone has to have money in this, so that if they storm out, they storm out on their investment. We have a great group of guys, but only 2 out of the 5 of us understand the responsibility/commitment of ownership (me being one of them), one is young and smart and works very hard when he's around, but is a pro athlete as well so that uses up his time. One's a very handy and hard working tradesman, but can be sporadic in terms of reliability. We all have our strong points and vices.

    For now, the plan is on the back burner, but after just visiting the Kona Brew Co. again, I can't help but feel that this is very do-able. I can "see" it, really see it - which sounds hoky, but I really can.

    I also understand that at some point a leap of faith is needed.

    Thanks again to you two, and anyone else that may have insight.

    -J.
    Last edited by Jer; 01-21-2017 at 12:28 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jer View Post
    Thx Lance and Dave. Both very insightful and helpful.

    Lance - what is it about multiple ownership that goes so wrong?? I've heard this sentiment before, but there's still part of me that thinks about "teamwork" and all that BS. Maybe I'm just being a flake. I'm glad to hear that you were able to produce that much, and still get out a lot. The talks our group has had is that the startup times for our brewery would be a real grind for 1-3 years.

    Our plan right now is one of two options - start with our little 1BBL nano (1.3ish BBL BH, 6x 1BBL FV's, 1x 2BBL BBT) for 6-18 months as a proof of concept, or just man up, say "we know what we know", take 350K in financing, and jump in with a 10BBL system and get to work. With a 10BBL system I was hoping to get upwards of 3500-5000BBL per year with double batching, etc. Now - I realize that one person can't do that, but I need that one person that runs it, and fills in if one of the labourers flakes out.

    We have 15-20 offers for tap spaces already, with possible opportunities to distribute in Vancouver as well. Here at home we'd set up what amounts to a taproom. The local government has made it very very palatable to be a craft brewery right now, and has allowed growler fill establishments to also serve pints, so essentially a pub. I have no delusions of thinking that I know how to run a kitchen, but that would be something I would take on a kitchen partner for. I have less trepidation about having a kitchen partner as I'd make that "their thing", and we'd do ours.

    Dave - thanks for that offer. I have enjoyed your no nonsense/common sense posts. I'm really glad you chime'd in. Some consultancy and/or a visit to your show, if we do go ahead, would be great value and money well spent for me. Anytime I can get to the MT mountains is a good idea to me!!!

    We've been brewing for about 23 months now. We've had ups and down, a couple storm outs, etc. My wife and I have made it crystal clear that everyone has to have money in this, so that if they storm out, they storm out on their investment. We have a great group of guys, but only 2 out of the 5 of us understand the responsibility/commitment of ownership (me being one of them), one is young and smart and works very hard when he's around, but is a pro athlete as well so that uses up his time. One's a very handy and hard working tradesman, but can be sporadic in terms of reliability. We all have our strong points and vices.

    For now, the plan is on the back burner, but after just visiting the Kona Brew Co. again, I can't help but feel that this is very do-able. I can "see" it, really see it - which sounds hoky, but I really can.

    I also understand that at some point a leap of faith is needed.

    Thanks again to you two, and anyone else that may have insight.

    -J.
    J,
    I understand your plan is back-burnered but, again, give me a shout if you'd like to talk about any of this or come on down!
    Prost!
    Dave
    Glacier Brewing Company
    406-883-2595
    glacierbrewing@bresnan.net

    "who said what now?"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Philipsburg, MT, USA
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    101

    Leadership

    I think there are a couple points worth addressing.

    First: A fish rots from the head, but it also leads with it. Much of the motivation for a non-owner comes from the feeling they are working hard for a good/inspiring/also hard-working leader.

    Second: Loads of social science research indicates that money is not a good motivator for most people. Raises rarely result in better performance.

    Third: It's quite possible that NO ONE will satisfy your ideals regarding what a conscientious employee is/does. That's where leadership comes in. You have to be able to accept a person's shortcomings and simultaneously encourage their strengths. Lord knows my bosses have many reasons to tear their hair out because of me, but we all would throw ourselves in front of a bus for one another.

    I know there's but much concrete in this post, but this isn't a concrete subject.

    What's worked for me, my bosses, and the folks we've hired, is to give too much responsibility and let everyone grow into it. It's messy, but it's worked so far.

    Also, I liked Billy Bean's concept of not hiring based on stereotypes. Find oddballs and unusual candidates who have a demonstrated interest, and give them a shot.
    Last edited by Mike Elliott; 01-23-2017 at 07:08 PM.
    Mike Elliott
    Head Brewer
    Philipsburg Brewing Co.
    Montana

  9. #9
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    Oct 2016
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    Jameson, SK, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Elliott View Post
    I think there are a couple points worth addressing.

    First: A fish rots from the head, but it also leads with it. Much of the motivation for a non-owner comes from the feeling they are working hard for a good/inspiring/also hard-working leader.

    Second: Loads of social science research indicates that money is not a good motivator for most people. Raises rarely result in better performance.

    Third: It's quite possible that NO ONE will satisfy your ideals regarding what a conscientious employee is/does. That's where leadership comes in. You have to be able to accept a person's shortcomings and simultaneously encourage their strengths. Lord knows my bosses have many reasons to tear their hair out because of me, but we all would throw ourselves in front of a bus for one another.

    I know there's but much concrete in this post, but this isn't a concrete subject.

    What's worked for me, my bosses, and the folks we've hired, is to give too much responsibility and let everyone grow into it. It's messy, but it's worked so far.

    Also, I liked Billy Bean's concept of not hiring based on stereotypes. Find oddballs and unusual candidates who have a demonstrated interest, and give them a shot.
    I have no issues with oddballs. I'm sure lots of folks think I'm odd, yet had faith in me.

    I'm not adverse to the "throw em in the deep end" approach - that is a great way to learn (provided it's safe). If I was there to back them up and supervise them from a distance, I'd do that for sure, but that's not realistic for me right now.

    Maybe I'm shopping for a unicorn.

    -J.

  10. #10
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    Mar 2014
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    Huntington Beach, CA
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    You need to find someone who will feel involved in the brewery, and will be proud of the product they put out. To me that is the most important aspect..if they care about the product they're making and know it is a reflection of them, they will work whatever hours is needed.

    I was a homebrewer with a full-time job in aerospace when we opened our 10bbl brewery. Getting thrown in the deep end worked for me, and I learned a lot in a short amount of time. Two years later and I solely run a 10bbl brewhouse with 200bbl of fermenters...double-brews 5 days a week. Is it a lot of work? Of course. But I have pride in what I make so the hours go by quick.

    I guess all that to say I would look for someone who has pride and is eager to learn. Anything else can be taught.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FourSonsBrewing View Post
    You need to find someone who will feel involved in the brewery, and will be proud of the product they put out. To me that is the most important aspect..if they care about the product they're making and know it is a reflection of them, they will work whatever hours is needed.

    I was a homebrewer with a full-time job in aerospace when we opened our 10bbl brewery. Getting thrown in the deep end worked for me, and I learned a lot in a short amount of time. Two years later and I solely run a 10bbl brewhouse with 200bbl of fermenters...double-brews 5 days a week. Is it a lot of work? Of course. But I have pride in what I make so the hours go by quick.

    I guess all that to say I would look for someone who has pride and is eager to learn. Anything else can be taught.
    Hiya FourSonsBrewing,
    Out of my own curiosity, is your brewery anywhere near the old Tap House on Beach Blvd? I ended up buying their Brewing system way back when.
    Prost!
    Dave
    Glacier Brewing Company
    406-883-2595
    glacierbrewing@bresnan.net

    "who said what now?"

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlacierBrewing View Post
    Hiya FourSonsBrewing,
    Out of my own curiosity, is your brewery anywhere near the old Tap House on Beach Blvd? I ended up buying their Brewing system way back when.
    Prost!
    Dave
    We're a few miles from there. Always wondered what happened to that place.

  13. #13
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    Jameson, SK, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by FourSonsBrewing View Post
    You need to find someone who will feel involved in the brewery, and will be proud of the product they put out. To me that is the most important aspect..if they care about the product they're making and know it is a reflection of them, they will work whatever hours is needed.

    I was a homebrewer with a full-time job in aerospace when we opened our 10bbl brewery. Getting thrown in the deep end worked for me, and I learned a lot in a short amount of time. Two years later and I solely run a 10bbl brewhouse with 200bbl of fermenters...double-brews 5 days a week. Is it a lot of work? Of course. But I have pride in what I make so the hours go by quick.

    I guess all that to say I would look for someone who has pride and is eager to learn. Anything else can be taught.
    That's exactly what I was thinking too. Did you find someone that fits that bill??

    It sounds like you left aerospace completely and you've made the brewery your show??

    -J.

  14. #14
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    Abingdon, VA, USA
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    I'd have a few pointers having worked at a few places with high turn over. I've seen a lot of what not to do running a brewery, which has been a valuable learning experience. First, a 50 hour work week is solid, and anyone passionate about this industry won't mind. Putting in anything more you will probably start to see burn out. You can sustain 60-70 hours for a month, maybe two, but you will see morale drop considerably if it lasts too long. And stupid mistakes will start getting made. Sometimes it's necessary, but it shouldn't be the norm. Higher a second person, even if it's part time, to come in weekends to do cellar work or brewing if you expect that kind of workload and you can't chip in.

    Second, I wouldn't higher anyone you have to teach. This is an industry with a high learning curve, there is a lot to know, A LOT, and even quick learners take months to train to competency and being able to work independently. That said, you're probably looking at 40K at a minimum to find someone qualified to take over an operation like that. Otherwise people will start looking for another job within 2 years. It's not personal, but once they have the experience under their belt, unless you have some really good alternative compensation plans, people can get paid 55k plus benefits at other locations. Some people will have loyalty, but usually that is commensurate with pay or deep involvement with getting a place off the ground. Others here may disagree, but this is what I've seen.

    Last, look for candidates with other skills that will be important to the brewery, like plumbing or electrical experience. Stuff is going to break, especially if you buy it used. Possibly once a month unless you keep a good preventative maintenance schedule. But stuff breaks all the time, having someone who knows how to fix things, or has a good mind for problem solving, will save you a lot of money. One group of people I've had good experience hiring and training are military veterans. I've not served, but my understanding is that their military training often involves making them do something they are not familiar with and become proficient at it. This has shown itself in two employees I've trained, and someone who picks things up quickly is always an asset. Some others here may disagree, but I haven't seen a real benefit to anyone coming out of degree or certificate programs. I've had to train 4 different individuals, two from the Siebel program, and I basically had to build them from the ground up. Their only advantage as far as I can tell is they are familiar with terminology and checking gravities, but otherwise you still have to train them in all cellar procedures. You generally have to retrain them in brewing because each system has its own set up. I haven't seen a great advantage to hiring someone with a degree over someone who is an avid homebrewer. It's just a gamble with a homebrewer because you don't know if the physicality of the job will wear them out. They tend to idolize the profession without knowing how much you sweat and ache to make it all happen.

    Again, not all here may agree, but that has been my experience thus far, and keeping that all in mind may save you some headaches going forward. Good luck!

  15. #15
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    Thx for that!! Interesting insights....

    -J.

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