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“Our growth was a function of maturity.”

Brewbound Live and a Rising Star!

This week, Ryan has been in Santa Monica, CA, with Mop Man and our VP of Operations Brandon Greenwood to participate in this year’s Brewbound Live.

Produced by Brewbound — a leading industry trade publication providing comprehensive information about the beer space, analysis of industry trends, and in-depth interviews with industry leaders — Brewbound Live features beer industry trailblazers, trendsetters, and rising stars. In addition, the week highlights a range of brewery case studies, business discussions, a Pitch Slam business competition, sampling of new and innovative products, and Livestream Studio interviews with attendees.

In addition, they’ll be handing out a few awards, including to the six breweries they’ve identified as Rising Stars. 

And… hey! A little brewery known as Cape May Brewing Company is one of this year’s Rising Stars!

“Go us!” Ryan said. “This is a huge honor, in recognition of the hard work and dedication of the entire Brew Crew to Cape May Brewing Company in a changing landscape. We’ve developed a sustainable and wild growth path in an otherwise tricky market, and it looks like the industry is taking notice.”

Last year, our friends at Lawson’s Finest Liquids were awarded with this recognition — they were a great help when we were shopping for a new canning line –, as well as such names as Tree House and Braxton. This year we were honored to share the accolade with Monday Night Brewing and Reuben’s Brews, with whom Ryan sat on a panel entitled “What’s Working for Rising Stars” along with Adam Robbings from Reuben’s Brews and Jeff Heck of Monday Night.

If you happen to own a brewery and you’re looking to scale up, this panel would have been extraordinarily eye-opening: mainly, the panel focused on managing growth.

“Our growth was a function of maturity,” Ryan said. “When we started, we were three guys who liked to brew beer and were really passionate about it. We’re still extremely passionate about it, but there was a time of reckoning when we needed to be all-in or all-out and do it well or not do it at all. So, we put our big-boy pants on, rebranded, and changed our direction about what we were doing and really treat it like a business with strong financial controls, clear communication, and have a clear North Star for all of our employees.”

The panel touched on employee engagement. As businesses grow, that’s sometimes one of the biggest challenges, and it confronts us just like everyone else. 

“It becomes challenging with a hundred people,” Ryan said, “so we do an employee engagement survey about once a year. Every employee at Cape May Brewery or Cape Beverage has a Credo Card with our Core Values on it. We talk about and celebrate our values. We do daily huddles in every department. We have a State of the Brewery bi-annually. It’s really challenging when we have multiple buildings and everyone’s spread out, so it’s important to communicate and articulate what the goal is and how we’re going to get there.”

They moved on to finding employees with the right cultural fit — again, a challenge for every business, and, for us, it comes down to our Core Values.

“Are we willing to fire someone if they don’t live up to our Core Values?” Ryan asks, rhetorically. “The answer is yes. If we have someone who’s good at a particular skill but isn’t adhering to those values, you gotta part ways. Otherwise, it’s always going to be a constant battle.”

Managing conflict is as important as managing growth, and, as we grow, it becomes part-and-parcel of the whole shebang.

“People leave not because of the job, but because of the manager,” Ryan said. “If you don’t have clear goals and clear expectations set for your individuals, you’re doing yourself a disservice. When everybody’s marching to the same beat, it proves to be extremely successful.”

It was a great panel and a huge honor to be recognized with the Rising Star award. We’re proud of the growth we’ve achieved over eight short years, and we’re excited about the future.

And we’re proud to have you with us! Here’s to another eight years!