As the saying goes, a craft brewer is only as good as his suppliers. OK, that’s not a saying, but it should be. Point being, you need all of your equipment to live up to your dreams and brewing demands, which can be easier said than done. The process of finding the right vendor can be tedious.
When breweries contact suppliers, there is always a chance that the supplier can’t cater to their needs —either the order is too large, too small, they don’t cater to their geographic area or they don’t have the product in stock.
Kinnek is a platform meant to remove a few headaches and obstacles for finding the right supplier for your needs, as well provide an outlet to rate your experience with specific suppliers. Part Priceline.com, part Craigslist, Kinnek allows brewers to post their buying needs and receive quotes from multiple suppliers of that product, compare the offers and make an informed purchase. The offers come from Kinnek’s network of suppliers, and each is customized for the specific purchase post.
“Kinnek quotes are much more than price estimates. They include a lot of other product details, photos, technical specs, etc.,” said Karthik Sridharan, chief executive officer of Kinnek. “We make it easy for you to interact with suppliers before and after receiving quotes from them. We’ve seen our members ask for more information, negotiate pricing, and request customer references.”
Kinnek has supplier networks for bottling equipment, bottling supplies, brewing equipment and brewing supplies, with a mix of both well-known and more regional players. For example:
- Bottling equipment suppliers: IC Filling Systems, HDP Brewing Systems (MacDonald Steel), and Neal H. Knapp.
- Glassware and bottles: Grandstand, Zenan, Kaufman Container, and Saxco.
- Brew house suppliers: Prospero, Silver State Stainless, and AgerTank
Here is how it works. You head to Kinnek.com, sign up for free and essentially follow the prompts of information to describe exactly what you are looking to purchase. This single request then goes to work and draws in a variety of pricing and specs.
“We actually notify the most relevant suppliers for your specific request, to ensure that you get more quotes in a timely manner,” Sridharan said. “If you create a request for, say, two-color imprint, 64-ounce amber growlers, we will only notify suppliers that can cater to that request. If you want quotes for a 7 bbl direct fire system, we’ll only notify suppliers that sell that type of system.”
Once a Kinnek member posts a request on the site, it’s quite common for them to start receiving quotes the same day. Within a day or two, they will usually have several high-quality quotes from relevant suppliers. That’s when the evaluation and negotiation process usually begins. It generally take a few days to go back and forth with suppliers to iron out the specific details on the quotes themselves, and do some due diligence on the suppliers.
“The purchase requests we see on Kinnek run the gamut from urgent replacements of growlers that need to be purchased ASAP to more long-term purchases of machinery that won’t be made for another nine months,” Sridharan said.
Brewers can inquire about both used and new equipment by specifying that in the post. On the post follow-up, suppliers usually include detailed product information, shipping information, a few alternative product options that are available, product images, brochures and technical specs if it’s applicable.
“Our members can combine this kind of detailed quote information with the additional information that we have about the supplier in their Kinnek profile, including reviews, activity levels on Kinnek and responsiveness rating,” he said.
The supplier reviews, written and posted by Kinnek users, are a powerful self-regulating tool for the buying experience, similar to the reviews on sites like Amazon.com.
“For small businesses that are going to be making a major purchase worth thousands of dollars, there is really no good outlet for finding reviews and ratings on specific suppliers,” Sridharan said. “We saw that there was a big need there. We’re already starting to see many breweries using Kinnek reviews as a major part of their supplier evaluation process.”
Including breweries in the planning stage, Kinnek has facilitated thousands of purchases in the last year. As noted in this feature, growlers are a hot ticker, but so are requests for semi-automatic bottling lines and smaller, under 7-bbl brewhouse systems as many homebrewers and smaller nano-breweries start moving up the chain towards becoming larger commercial brewing operations.
Check out Kinnek.com and see if it meets your brewery’s next purchasing needs.