This Brewery Introduced Self-Distribution To Survive Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic has hit us hard and heavy. While many people have started to work from home, many don’t have the option of doing that. As the U.S continues to see a surge in coronavirus positive cases, the economy continues to fall. Even so, the falling economy has affected different sectors differently. While several corporates can afford to survive during these tough times, local businesses are facing a loss even to remain open. Amidst all this, one brewery has managed to survive by introducing a self-distribution system. 

In an interview with Craft Brewing Business, Bob Szuter Explained their business plan. Szuter co-founded Wolf’s Ridge Brewing. The brewery is run and owned by Szuter’s family. 

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing started with a small brewery, and it slowly grew with the addition of taprooms over the past years. Szuter mentioned that 75% of their sales were from their on-ground premise. But since the onslaught of COVID-19, things have changed drastically. Ohio was also one of the first states to implement a shutdown, and that’s where Wolf’s Ridge Brewing is located. 

Businesses Go Online To Combat The Pandemic Related Lockdowns

In the interview, Szuter states that after the cancellation of a sports event, they immediately knew things were turning worse. Anticipating the future of local businesses, the Wolf’s Ridge Brewing team sat down together to brainstorm ideas. They knew that traditional business was not going to survive, and so, they took their business online. 

Szuter admits that there was fear at the beginning of their new enterprise. But they held on. Soon enough, their website was ready to go live by the time breweries were given a notice to close business operations. He further expressed surprise at the way their business took off. They started self-distributing beers and slowly went on to deliver food as well. 

He also thanked the PPP fund that helped steady their business. The success of their self-distribution system also depended on the rent concessions provided by their landlord. 

Read: Fremont Brewing and Melvin Brewing Show The Industry How To Grow Gracefully

Another thing that was paramount in making their self-distribution system a success was the fact that they could can their draft beer. They had partnered up with a production facility late last year to build their own canning line. This eased the process of home-delivering their products. Although their sales were down by 60% in the first month of their website going live, the numbers have now changed. 

Brewery Worked Exclusively With Self-Distribution System 

Szuter explained that his father and he were suspicious of wholesale facilities. He adds that they were more comfortable having full control over their products. 

An excellent benefit of the self-distribution system is that the business owners can be self-reliant. They can even employ more employees directly into their on-ground facility. Szuter added that all this would not have been possible had they been dependent on a retailer to sell their beer. 

He further added that the entire process is done with extreme caution. All their staffers and customers follow the COVID-19 guidelines. The self-distribution system has further allowed them to explore new markets. 

The success story of Wolf’s Ridge Brewing suggests that a flexible and dedicated team can achieve anything. The self-distribution system definitely comes out as a hero here.

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