Yakima County Development Association - Successful Entrepreneurship in a Bottle: Yakima Craft Brewing

Jonathan Smith

The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news. 

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Successful Entrepreneurship in a Bottle: Yakima Craft Brewing

February 26, 2010



Recently I enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with Jeff Winn, owner of Yakima Craft Brewing. It was great to talk with Jeff about the beer business and see that his company is doing well. Winn moved to Yakima from Portland nearly two years ago to pursue his dream of owning a craft brewery. Our office helped Jeff early on by connecting him with a seasoned employee and identifying potential buildings for his operation.

As we got to know Jeff we were impressed with his entrepreneurial approach. He developed a great business plan for Yakima Craft Brewing and more importantly used it on a daily basis to guide the company through its earliest stages. Winn does not refer to the plan as much now because he can rely on the company’s financial reports and operating metrics to make key decisions. At the same time though Jeff still relies on the business plan as a longer term road map to grow the brewery.

 



I also smiled when Jeff talked about his philosophy for increasing market share and expanding the brewery. Winn says the market for his product is enormous and that he is currently selling every ounce of beer he turns out. The challenge for Jeff is that his brewing system is small and it limits how much beer the company can produce. Winn is comfortable for now working within these constraints. He is more concerned about managing and digesting the company’s growth. Jeff has significant expansion plans but he is moving forward thoughtfully and incrementally to ensure that the brewery’s growth is sustainable and manageable.

After working with hundreds of companies and entrepreneurs Jeff’s views are refreshing. I have seen too many businesses think that growth is great until they run out of funds to feed the company. I have also seen companies that get too fixed on a big market opportunity and ignore how it will specifically impact their business.

 



Our hats are off to Jeff and Yakima Craft Brewing. His philosophy on business plans and managing growth are exemplary. More importantly he and his partner Chris Swedin make fantastic beer. To learn more about Yakima Craft Brewing click here.

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