Jeremy Tofte always knew that he wanted to do something in the world of craft beer. Creating recipes had always been his passion. However, he still struggled to make his vision a reality. Jeremy had worked many restaurant jobs throughout his college years. The one thing that he did not like about most restaurants was their lack of good craft beer. This would be the leading motivational force that would push Jeremy to develop the craft beer scene in Jackson, WY. He had limited resources and a great imagination to work with. Eventually, Melvin Brewing was created.
Melvin Brewing has been a successful business venture in the local parts of Jackson, WY. Jeremy and his colleagues received the Small Brewpub of the Year Award in 2015 at GABF. This was the sign that they needed to increase production to meet the demands of their growing fanbase. They would go on to win the Brewing Group of the Year in 2017 at the same convention. Jeremy and his colleagues believe that they can make the craft beer industry a better place by providing high-quality brews and excellent customer service. The numbers show that there are no signs of stopping for this incredible brewery.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I wanted to try something experimental with the recipes that I had been developing. Fortunately, the community received our brews very well. This inspired us to continue developing our recipes and pushing forward.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
The first two years were full on growth stage; almost all businesses are in the red during that time. We are looking to see a profit in our fourth year.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I had moments here and there where I doubted what we were doing. However, I was able to talk myself through those moments. I reminded myself that I was pursuing my passion. I’m fortunate enough to be doing it every day.
How did you get your first customer?
They were my parents [laughs]. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of what I do. My dad was in town visiting and bought our first beer at the bar.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Word of mouth is such a powerful lead generator. I know many businesses that make most of their business from word of mouth. We were fortunate enough to have such a receptive local scene that liked what we were doing. Word of mouth is mostly how we grew.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I had to come to the realization that I have limitations. We can only do so much in one day. I had to learn to come back to reality and work only as much as I can each day. Pushing myself harder could do damage to my mind and body.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Our ability to connect with our customers. We are continually finding ways to engage our audience and implement the feedback that they give us.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When we start receiving customers from new territories that loved our beer, even though we were not local in their market, they enjoyed the beer. Seeing new people enter the brewery and buying our beer on social media tells me that our marketing is working.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
There are a lot of community events that are coming up that we are a part of. We are very big on community outreach at Melvin. We look forward to giving back to the people that have given us so much.
What business books have inspired you?
Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss. This book completely changed my views on how to run a business.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
We recently began running Facebook ads in areas outside of town. These ads have given us a return in traffic in the regions that we cannot physically visit very often.
What advice do you have for upstart brewers looking to start their own brewery?
I would recommend that you get to know the people in your local craft beer scene. They are not your competition. You can work with people from different breweries, and it will not hurt your business. They will usually give you advice so that you can avoid making the mistakes that they made. Then that frees you up to make your own mistakes.