Perrin Brewing Company

How Oskar Blues Managed Growth

Can a craft brewery get the funds needed to expand without its independence? Dale Katechis, the CEO of Oskar Blues Brewery, found an answer. Instead of selling out to a larger brewery, he brought in Fireman Capital, a private-equity firm in Boston. Katechis met Dan Fireman while developing a succession plan for his brewery, and concluded that Fireman would make a good business partner. He said, “It was refreshing to meet someone who understood the heart and the soul of this business was and knew how important the heart and the soul is to it. Sometimes, it isn’t the best business decisions that are the heart and the soul.”

Oskar Blues used some of Fireman’s cash to acquire Perrin Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Katechis was introduced to the brewery by Keith Klopcic, a co-owner of Oskar Blues’s Michigan distributor. Perrin had gone from zero to 14,000 barrels in two years, and had a distribution network in place; however, it “wasn’t into packaging.” After taking over the brewery, Katechis introduced a canning line. Cash flow doubled within three months, and Perrin is expected to grow substantially. Klopcic is in charge of Perrin, which will remain independent of Oskar Blues.

Making a Statement

At this year’s Craft Brewers Conference, Brewers Association head Paul Gatza warned attendees that the quality of craft beer, especially from newcomers to the industry, was becoming a concern.

John Stewart, the brewer at Grand Rapids-based Perrin Brewing Company, took Gatza’s message to heart. Perrin has released the “Killing Craft” series, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the “craft” versus “crafty” controversy in the industry. And each series beer will spell out Perrin’s mission–namely, “to support and defend craft beer from all threats, foreign and domestic, macro and nano.”

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