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SUBMITTED BY Tim Hohl ON Mon, 11/05/2018 - 17:35
By Tim Hohl, Founder, Coin Toss Brewing (Oregon City, Oregon)
Please Join Me As A CAS Member
I admit to you that I didn’t really use the value that CAS and Sam Holloway offered for two years. I only recently logged in again because I was finally ready for help. In just 14 days, I was able to tap into the real power of CAS. I can’t believe it took me this long, but I don’t want you to make the same mistake. This is the best $99 you can spend as a brewing entrepreneur. Join now!! Don’t wait!! I’m ready to be your colleague, your confidant, and share a few beers while we grow and learn together.
When I Stopped Relying on Hope and Reached Out to CAS for Help
A Brief Recap of My Situation
I’ve been a member of Crafting A Strategy since June of 2016 when I asked Sam Holloway to use my brewery as a case study in his undergraduate business policy and strategy class. I learned about Sam via my former career as a morning news host on the radio, which featured a weekly craft beer segment called “The Beer Geek.” My station managers reached out to The University of Portland when they learned of Sam’s growing reputation as a beer industry researcher. Sam and his students developed a growth strategy around the core elements of our brand and mostly reinforced what we already knew. I felt good giving these students a glimpse into a real company, but their analysis wasn’t a real game changer. I kept with my basic strategy and enjoyed a couple years of slow growth and fun while I kept my day job on the radio.
I ran my business on fun, hope, high quality beer, and a commitment to build a community of breweries in Oregon City, a suburb of Beervana (Portland, Oregon). I also had a lot of hope and a dream to someday leave the radio booth and make this my full-time job. What I didn’t realize was that hope would become reality faster than my wife and I expected. I was let go by the radio station ten months ago. I no longer had the safety of making this brewery my side hustle. With a kid headed to college next year, I could no longer rely on hope and I needed help. The rest of this blog shows a daily path through the community at CAS and details how in only two weeks, I’ve asked for and received help.
A Two-Week Timeline That Changed Everything
September 12, 2018 – My First Ask For Help
I emailed Sam Holloway (Co-founder and President of CAS) because I needed a ‘reality check’ on my strategy to expand Coin Toss Brewing. I had worked up some financials, though that isn’t my strength. My initial plan was to expand my self-distribution business to points of sale outside our local area. Sam wrote back within one day and we scheduled a lunch.
September 19, 2018 – Lunch, New Ideas, & Connections
Sam and I met at the Barley Pod, a new and innovative expansion project of another CAS member, Baerlic Brewing Co. Sam wanted to show me other ways to expand my self-distribution business and one that was very successful. I learned it was also near Sam’s house so he was maybe a little biased. I did a mental download about everything. My daughter going to college, my dismissal from the radio station, my excitement over our success at Coin Toss, and my strategy moving forward. Sam listened and basically said he didn’t like the strategy. We talked a bit more and Sam offered to make introductions to two other Crafting A Strategy members whom I could bounce ideas off of and also a CPA firm he really liked to help me with my financials. The CAS members were spread across the west coast of the USA, but all of them offered to help:
- CAS Member, Randall Behrens (Santa Rosa, CA) Live Oak Bank Senior Loan Officer
- CAS Member, Steve Waters (Carson, WA) Backwoods Brewing Company CEO
- Irvine & Company CPA, Karly Tell (Portland, OR)
September 20, 2018 – CAS Content For Me to Review
One day after our lunch, Sam responded with seven content pieces from the CAS website that could also shape my thinking. Sam knew I was a busy beer entrepreneur, so he only sent me webinars & podcasts that I could listen to while driving around to make my sales calls. It turned out several CAS members had already discussed the pros and cons of expansion; I just hadn’t engaged with the content – I was too busy running my brewery. Without judgment, Sam sent me the seven content pieces and then went to work setting up meetings for me. Here was the content he sent:
- Baerlic Brewing and Migration Brewing (Oregon) on Current Efforts
- Non-Brewing Revenue Spaces with Temperance Beer Co. (Illinois)
- Permitting and Tenant Improvements with FMD Architects
- Implementing Expansion with Backwoods Brewing CEO, Steve Waters
- Growth Strategies with Occidental Brewing Founder, Ben Engler
- Brewery Metrics and Moneyball with Oakshire Brewing Founder, Jeff Althouse
- Designing Incentive Programs for Brewpub Employees with Backwoods Brewing CEO, Steve Waters
September 24, 2018 – New Canning Line Quote
I sent Sam a link to the canning line I was interested in, which we had discussed over lunch. We agreed to keep gathering information and meet again for lunch the first week of October.
September 25, 2018 – Conversation with Live Oak Bank
Sam encouraged me to get a better understanding of the SBA 7A loan program and referred me to Randall Behrens at Live Oak Bank. Ultimately, Coin Toss’ situation wasn’t a fit for this program, but speaking with Randall introduced new ideas into my strategy and offered yet another piece of new information I didn’t know to ask for. Thanks to this CAS member, I had another piece of data to make a better decision.
September 26, 2018 – Conversation with CAS Member, Steve Waters (CPA, CEO)
Steve and I met for beers to discuss my overall situation and just to bounce ideas off each other, one brewery entrepreneur to another. I didn’t realize Steve had been Sam’s student a decade ago and only came into the beer industry when his family founded a small brewpub in his hometown. Steve was a CPA and seasoned auditor and operator, just not in the beer industry. Steve discussed how he used CAS to get up to speed and how he is now a very willing mentor to people like me who make great beer and need occasional help with the numbers. Steve is actually what Sam calls a “Member Expert” within the CAS community. A member expert is someone with a high level of expertise in one area who makes herself/himself available to other members. As a CPA, Steve’s expertise is accounting and finance. He’s also a super normal dude who has slowly, methodically, and profitably grown his brewery with CAS’ help.
September 26, 2018 – Conversation with Irvine & Company CPAs
Karly Tell and her colleague, Jason Nishikawa telephoned me to learn more about my situation. They have deep knowledge of the craft beer industry and quickly helped me articulate my challenges to determine if they were a fit or if they could recommend someone better. Within just a few minutes, they set up an in person meeting and connected me with a trusted bookkeeper in my hometown, Oregon City.
In just 14 days, I was able to tap into the real power of CAS. I can’t believe it took me this long, but I don’t want you to make the same mistake. This is the best $99 you can spend as a brewing entrepreneur. Join now!! Don’t wait!! I’m ready to be your colleague, your confidant, and share a few beers while we grow and learn together.