What does your business do?
The factory has two main functions. Primarily, we are a nano-brewery and produce a huge variety of ales and lagers. Additionally, we are a local watering hole with a full bar serving only Indiana-made beer, wine, cider, mead, and spirits.
What was the reason for opening?
For nearly a decade before opening, I worked as a commercial brewer at two of the state’s largest breweries. After my wife and I had our first child, we decided to move back home to Monticello to raise him where we grew up. With 10 years of experience and no existing craft brewery in town, we decided to open Kopacetic to bring local beer home too.
What is the biggest challenge?
The brewery shares many challenges that are ubiquitous in small businesses; however, our biggest challenge specifically as a brewery is managing and maintaining the balance of raw goods inventory, finished product inventory, and scheduling production for future finished products. A tricky balancing act for a product that takes three to four weeks to complete and does so on its own terms.
When is the busiest time of the year?
As a small business based in Monticello, we are greatly impacted by the summer traffic our lakes and attractions bring to the area in the summer. Also, as active members of the Indiana brewing community, the summertime means we are spread all around the state attending beer festivals and sharing Monticello-brewed beer with our fellow Hoosiers. So without a doubt, Memorial Day to Labor Day is our busiest time of the year.
What is the most popular thing you sell and service?
As a brewery and bar with more than 100 different Indiana-made adult beverages available at any time, our most popular item is ... drum roll ... alcohol. However, more specifically our biggest seller is beer. We have served more than 1,000 different and unique Indiana-brewed beers in just over 14 months, or roughly 1.25 different beers for every day we have been open.
What is the less popular item?
We don’t sell a lot of Sprite. Out of all the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on the menu, for whatever reason, Sprite is the least popular option.
What is the thing you like the most?
There is nothing better than enjoying the fruits of your labor, and for the past 10 years the best part of my career has always been enjoying a pint of the beer I have made. Today, the pint at the end of the day means even more because it is Kopacetic beer. I can’t pick a favorite beer out of the 350 different beers we have made thus far because they are all like children to me, but I tend to lean toward the dark beers, so I’ll say Porter’s Porter is the beer I like the most.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
Honestly, I enjoy the day-to-day grind of managing inventory, organizing production schedules, and forecasting demands against current supply. I enjoy the hard work and long hours required to operate the business because I can see the product of that effort and reflect on the progress we’ve made every day since day one. The hard work also makes that shift beer taste even better.
What is the biggest downside?
While I enjoy the hard work and long hours this business requires, they are also the biggest downside. Long and hot brew days are very demanding physically and the long hours oftentimes keep me from my wife and son. My wife is very supportive and my son enjoys playing with the brewery equipment, but missing out on time with them is the biggest downside by far.
What is the biggest misconception of your business?
The biggest misconception about Kopacetic is one shared with all craft breweries. Many people view craft beer as “giant chewy stouts” or “aggressively bitter IPAs” and are turned off to the craft altogether. While those types of beers definitely exist, KBF and all independent breweries also beer more familiar flavors such as light wheat ales, malty rich ambers, and simple pilsners and lagers. Not all beer is for everybody, but there is at least one beer for everyone. You just need to try them to find yours.
Additionally, most people believe we only carry beer. With a name like the Beer Factory, its not a hard belief to have. However, does the Cheesecake Factory only have cheesecake? Those brave souls who wonder into the factory with that idea in mind are surprised to see our giant selection of not only beer but the rest of the items in our full bar.
How would you describe your business philosophy?
Our philosophy at the factory is based on three pillars: variety, education and community support. It is our belief that there are too many great products from too many great producers to limit our customers to just four or five ubiquitous products, so we search high and low for everything possible so we can share it with our patrons. However, with such a huge variety and ever-changing menus, we also have to focus on educating our customers on the basics as well as the subtle nuances of the products so they can make informed decisions and better appreciate and enjoy whatever it is they want in their glass. And finally, our community continues to support us and it is very important to us to support our community in return through fundraisers, donations, involvement, and participation wherever and whenever possible.
When it comes time to retire, is there a family member who will be taking over for you?
I expect to continue brewing beer until the day I can no longer lift a keg. I don’t even want to think about retiring from this industry. I do have a 3-year-old who is getting better and better at cleaning kegs and splashing water around, but my hope is he’ll pursue his passions independently and not simply follow in dad’s footsteps. At this time, his passions are leading him toward being a paleontologist while playing in the NBA and the MLB, and moonlighting as a Broadway vocalist. So I wish him the best on that.
How has your business changed
We are 2.5 years old at this time, and many things have evolved since we first opened the door. Continuously adding to the ambiance, expanding our services, designing new programs and refreshing old ones, and always welcoming new customers and new regulars. It has been such a whirlwind since our opening day, it is hard to step back and really look at how things have changed with an objective lens. However, subjectively, we keep on growing and building upon what we have done thus far to better match the business we set out to become.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business? There are the obvious pointers such as do your research, come up with a plan, consider all angles, and anticipate potential issues. There are a million books on business start-ups that can cover these basics. However, what I have found to be important for me and my business is a bit beyond that. Attack your new opportunity with passion; dive in and immerse yourself because there you’ll only find half success with half measures. Challenge the status quo; same old same old isn’t going to make a difference. Success at home results in success at work; your new business will be challenging and time-consuming, but you’re bound to fail if you neglect the people who have supported your decision to pursue this crazy venture.