BUILDING A BIGGER BREWERY: WEEKS 9-20

“BYOF…food coming in a few months”  😉

Ok, so what happened?  By now we should have a place purchased and equipment on order, right?  It’s the kitchen that happened, that’s what.  My last post was early December.  Since then I spent a month and a half on final kitchen preparation for the Diamond Deli and the Health Department.  Getting us completely out of the kitchen proved difficult as we used it as a ‘catch-all’ room for brewing, storage and employee breaks.  And we really had no other room.

During this time, all ‘new brewery related’ items were put on hold for the Diamond Deli integration.  In mid January we finally went live with the kitchen.  All the preparations we made worked flawlessly thanks to our employees.  After two weeks it was surprisingly easy-peasy.

This last month we spent optimizing the changes that having food has brought us.  We needed more staffing, shifts needed changed as since, we now have food, when people come in has changed.  Our brewing schedule has increased meaning we have to find more ‘off hour’ time to do more with less.  We are now completely maxed-out in room, beer production and personnel.  I have to thank Kelly, Jesse,  Chris as they are currently putting in some truly bizarre hours while we figure out this transition…I have a few ideas, but it will require more staffing adjustments.  A special shout out goes to Rebecca in starting to bring organization to our festivals we are going to, helping in employee scheduling, and all the other miscellaneous (but important) things she does behind-the-scenes.  In March I will have it figured out.

I am also further optimizing our brewing as we need to start saving time on certain processes.  I am having Control Tec build an automated glycol controller so we don’t have to keep doing things the manual way…which isn’t quiet working anymore.  I’m also enhancing our oxygenation procedures to eliminate a bulky compressor and 30 minutes per batch.  Thanks Vince from MadCap on the help.

Ohio Craft Beer Conference in Cincinnati

This was one of the best, most timely conferences I have ever went to given that we want (need) to get bigger.  We hooked up with many suppliers and manufacturers that I didn’t know about before.  I talked to brewhouse manufacturers (one in Ohio – saving in shipping costs), and a few canning manufacturers (since we will can beer).  I was a part of several seminars regarding self distribution, building a barrel and sours program…the list goes on.  Jesse went to a whole list of other seminars as his role will be expanding in the production brewery.  We then visited several breweries that have the same systems that we are getting quotes for and talks with the brewmasters their.

Feeling Re-Energized…

I got back from Cincy and immediately looked and categorized more properties – both to  lease and to buy.  I also have to thank a few of my customers as they are looking for me too and bringing me leads which helps tremendously.  I have already looked at two more places in Akron.  Leasing vs buying will be a big factor to consider and I have started working on a spreadsheet with various properties, costs, rates and taxes to see what will be more economical both in the short and long term.

Spreadsheets are getting jiggy with other spreadsheets to make even more spreadsheets!

I am also looking at canning lines and starting to run the math on mobile canning options versus buying a canning line and what will be the return on investment.  Just tonight I redesigned a cost-analysis spreadsheet to first, make sure I understand every component in production.  Secondly, to recheck my math from the initial spreadsheets.  The last thing I need is an errant decimal rounding error.

Everything will soon come together and tie-in with property lease/buy numbers to see what options will make sense.  The last thing I want to do is borrow a ton of money that I have to payback as the industry ‘could’ tighten and shelf space will start coming under fire.  I need to do this smartly and not go from small to multi-million dollar buildout – even if I could get the lending.  I want to grow aggressively enough to supply Akron and surrounding areas while having the right-sized location not requiring an expensive buildout or new building.  I want to make Akron our home for a long time and have the healthy finances to accomplish this and weather any future ‘tightening’.

All of this while still keeping an eye on used equipment and brewhouses available.  Two are actually available currently at the exact size I want at a good discount…I’m just still a few weeks away from getting additional numbers to a few possible lenders which I have a meeting scheduled in two weeks as February closes – I’ll probably lose out on those but in this environment, there could be more available anytime.

Have you looked at any buildings, Ron?

I have looked at four.  Below are some pictures:

Building 1

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Decent space.  Would take some demo…this is a deep, skinny space that is partially office with walls and drop ceilings.  No real area to expand into.  Ceilings are around 18′ high which is definitely doable for larger fermentors.  Fully sprinkled!

Building 2

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Lower ceilings in this building…12-16 feet.  Needs a complete blasting and repainting.  Fully sprinkled.

Building 3

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The pictures say it all.  Fully sprinkled too!

Building 4

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Saw this out driving.  Went in to ask but it was only the 2 acre parking lot for sale.

What next?

I will be doing a revisit on a few of these.  I have also been making calls on a lot of listed buildings that don’t have ceiling heights in the data sheet.  By the time I call, a few of the better buildings were already under contract.  Rats.  I’ll keep looking at everything available and leave no building ‘left un-turned.’

I have a meeting with a bank in a week.  I’m putting together final numbers and projections. I am truly in spreadsheet hell.  Though I’ll be honest, I kinda like it!  I like detailed planning with numbers and then executing it.  That’s where we got to where we are today.

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