Wolf’s Ridge Brewing in Columbus, Ohio is a family owned and operated business, and chose to self-distribute to keep business in the family and maintain complete control of their beer … and during the COVID-19 pandemic that decision saved them. Bob Szuter, co-founder of Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, explains it all to Craft Brewing Business, in the video interview above.
1:00 – Overview of Wolf’s Ridge Brewing pre-COIVD.
2:00 – Evaluating options when the state shut down and how they went all in on home delivery.
“We got with the folks who helped us build the website out and started to implement the shop to do home delivery.
Despite on-premise sales for Wolf’s Ridge being down 86% since March 16, by cutting out the distribution middleman, Wolf’s Ridge was able to keep their employees at work, keep packaged sales elevated, and maximize distribution revenue enough to sustain their company. So much so that despite revenue dropping 60%, employee count has only had to drop 30%.
5:00 – How being down 60 percent in sales was a huge victory.
7:00 – How to evaluate distribution through a wholesale versus self-distribution.
“We felt like we could give a better buying experience for our customers through a self-distribution model … a more, resourceful, responsive experience for them to get the product that they needed.”
Numbers for the brewery’s production are higher than they have ever been, and with the self-distribution model, the brewery has had the flexibility to pivot sales on a dime. To date, beer production is up 34%, with the brewery doubling their can production volume and boosting packaged sales to local grocery stores 170%, allowing the brewery to sustain operations even with the on-premise sales bottoming out.
14:00 – So … is this model now their way forward, or will they flip everything back to how it was once the pandemic someday ends?