The beer making process is way more a manufacturing, skilled trade environment than the trendy boutique business sector it might seem like as you sip suds at the bar. It’s akin to factory work, yet it retains this cool crossover factor and culture that attracts young people and entrepreneurs. That’s a rare thing in the skilled trades, which is struggling heavily to source either. I also work in the construction trades, which continues to compete poorly with tech, office or service work, even when pay can be way better.
So basically, beer production is kind of this cool, progressive skilled labor market — a fact not lost on Wolverine — the Michigan-based footwear and apparel company. Founded in 2014, Wolverine’s Project Bootstrap (love that name) has celebrated and supported the women and men (the customers) who work in the trades. This year the company has chosen Manhattan’s soon-to-open Torch and Crown Brewing Co as its partner, but these new team members go beyond that brand. Here they are (drum roll, please)!
Mike Betros (Tinton Falls, New Jersey): Mike took the skills he learned in automotive trade school and went on to follow his passion crafting a rewarding career in brewing. From brewing beer to installing vats to managing the brewery’s entire flow — for Mike, there’s never a dull moment.
Michelle Gooding (Parma, Idaho): Michelle ditched her 9-to-5 behind a desk and returned to her family farm to reconnect with the physical and mental work she loves. Together with her sisters, she’s taken their hop farming business to new heights.
Shane McConnell (Sommerville, Massachusetts): The trades led Shane down many different roads. But it’s his job as draft technician installing tap systems at Modern Draught that allows him to pour his heart into every restaurant and bar, establishing him as one of the coolest draft techs around.
Wolverine’s Project Bootstrap project also looks to build awareness of the skilled trades, which it has done recently with some pretty interesting survey info. As part of its second annual survey, Wolverine aimed to quantify year-over-year trends and perceptions of the skilled trades. Here’s some of the numbers and insights from young folks:
- Doing something I’m passionate about (94%)
- Being able to get a job quickly after school/training (90%)
- Doing something that will have a lasting impact (88%)
- Having opportunities to be creative (83%)
From the press release:
“Not knowing enough about the skilled trades is a large barrier for why people aren’t choosing this career path,” said Andrew Shripka, vice president of marketing for Wolverine. “But the reality is that these jobs offer exactly what today’s young people are looking for. They can get out from behind a desk and find success where the work they are doing is making a lasting, meaningful impact.”
As the new faces of the Wolverine brand, each Team Wolverine member mentioned above was also surprised with $15,000 during the signing event, to put toward facilitating their success at work. That’s pretty cool.
“Mike, Michelle and Shane are pursuing their dreams through their jobs, and each has found the flexibility and opportunity to create the life they wanted through the trades,” said Shripka. “At Wolverine, we believe this crew can tackle anything with their hard work and tenacious spirit. We’re honored to call them Team Wolverine, as they take the same pride in their work that we do in supporting them.”
There’s also a beer, of course.
In addition to providing the inspiration to follow their dreams, Wolverine is also helping facilitate Gen Z’s entry into the trades. Wolverine partnered with Torch and Crown to create Lace ‘Em Up Lager, a beer to support the skilled trades. Wolverine is matching the collaboration beer sales with a donation of $50,000 to the mikeroweWORKS scholarship foundation to encourage the next generation of skilled trades workers. The Lace ‘Em Up Lager is available now in cans where Torch and Crown is sold and will be available on tap at the brewery when it opens later this fall.