Matt Vincent, the third partner at Ska Brewing, has invented and built dozens of devices over the years to help Ska Brewing achieve efficiencies in the brewing, packaging and distribution of their beer. The strong demand from other craft brewers for one of those machines, the Can-I-Bus Depalletizer — a steel-framed machine that automatically lifts layers of empty cans from the pallets they arrive on and feeds them onto a canning line’s conveyor belt — inspired Vincent to start a new company.
Ska Fabricating began in June 2012 in a 500-square-foot space, but relocated in November of last year to a 5,000-square-foot warehouse. The company now employs nine people, manufacturing and selling depalletizers to breweries around the U.S. and Canada. The company has sold more than 40 of the machines to date, to such far-flung customers as Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Fla., and Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau, Alaska.
“At Ska Brewing, we found ourselves solving a lot of problems that you couldn’t buy solutions for,” Vincent said. “We put in the time to make these things work just right, and what we ended up with were solutions that were created by brewers, for brewers, and proven in a brewery. That’s something other breweries just couldn’t find until now, and there’s a huge amount of value in it for them.”
Vincent also notes potential demand from makers of food and energy drinks. “It can depalletize anything that is lightweight,” he said.
The depalletizer sells for about $25,000. In addition, Vincent is also betting that there is local demand for custom prototyping and manufacturing. Machinist Dan Morris joined the company as a partner last year, bringing years of computer-controlled machining expertise, along with equipment — a CNC machine and a waterjet table — which expands the company’s ability to create custom items.
“Now we can fabricate a single prototype, or do production-level manufacturing,” Morris said. “We can work with anything from a sketch on a napkin to a CAD file.”
The craft beer industry has long been known for showing off its collaboration, as opposed to the competition that gets the spotlight in most industries, but some might still wonder: what about giving away Ska Brewing’s secrets?
“Matt’s part of the Ska team,” said Ska President and Co-Founder Dave Thibodeau. “He’s not going to give away any secret sauce. Some of his inventions are so unique and important to what we do that they’ll stay right here. But a lot of them, including the Depalletizer, bring value to other breweries. The camaraderie in craft brewing is one of the reasons craft beer drinkers are so passionate about their favorite breweries. Beyond the beer, they’re fans of the way we do things. And that really is the way we do things.”
For more information, head to the company website or call Office: 970.403.8562.