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“So what if I have no commercial brewing experience?”

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

“So what if I have no commercial brewing experience?”


Not surprisingly, my dad felt my dismissal of what every bank under the sun considers the most fundamental requirement for business lending; industry experience, as something that must not be ignored.

So, we struck up a partnership with the previous owner and founder of Iron Horse Brewery, Jim Quilter.

Jim was what many would envision as the ideal brewer avatar; giant beard, jovial disposition, smiling eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses,forearms that could apply enough force to crush a walnut with his bare hands from handling many kegs and bags of malt, oh, and he was irish.

I was what you would consider the ideal avatar of a dickhead, depending on your perspective, which is to say, if you have any perspective at all. I was 26 years old, and, as previously stated, dismissive of obvious conventions, pretty sure I knew everything I needed to know, and fully determined to set the course for our new partnership.

What could possibly go wrong?

1) Jim hated me
2) I had no idea what I was doing
3) We neglected to set the terms of a buyout, which, not surprisingly was imminent based on the last few things I have said, yet we failed to see that.
4) Iron Horse Brewery was broke and no one really had enough money.

Why am I telling you this?

A: We are considering a purchase of an enterprise and I needed to refresh my memory on all the mistakes we made.
A: Suzanne asked me to write more history
A: Perhaps you are considering purchasing an enterprise and I would like to save you the suffering.

As you can probably ascertain, it worked out. Tensions ran quite high for a time during which Jim pulled out and we contemplated our options:

A) Let the brewery fail and buy the assets from bankruptcy court
B) Pay the price set by Jim
C) Something else, but we never figured out what it was.

We decided to pay the price and we have never regretted it, except for the first two years when we kept watching money go down the drain, but other than that it has been no regrets.

Was it a generous spirit or a desire to take the little momentum that the brewery had and continue with it? Both, I think.

While we contemplated starting over with assets, we ultimately decided that seemed predatory and heartless. Buying the business from Jim also allowed us to continue using the license that was in place, and while the branding was no inspiration, it was something to build on. And, of course, we got Irish Death. Hey! Did this business begin with a win-win? Hot Damn! I think it did.

Hugs and Kisses,

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