New Glarus tapped SBA resources from start
Excerpted from bizjournals.com
By Jeff Engel
When Deb and Dan Carey bid in a brewpub foreclosure sale on the equipment they would use to start New Glarus Brewing Co. in 1993, they only had $40,000 in the bank, hadn’t secured a loan yet and had an unfinished business plan.
“This is the part where if somebody else did this I would’ve taken them aside going, ‘This isn’t going to work,’” Deb said with a laugh, reminiscing in the offices of her New Glarus, Wis., brewery. “But I really believed in my heart that it was going to work. I think this is what makes me an entrepreneur, or possibly somebody who should be locked up.”
Turns out she was more entrepreneur than eccentric.
Twenty years later, the brewery the wife and husband started in a 10,000-square-foot, run-down warehouse in this village of 2,172 people has grown into a $31 million business making some of Wisconsin’s most popular craft beers in two New Glarus locations totaling 126,000 square feet.
Deb, the brewery’s founder and president, was the first woman to establish and operate a brewery in the U.S.
The U.S. Small Business Administration named her Wisconsin’s Small Business Person of the Year and the national Small Business Person of the Year runner-up in 2011. She is a member of the White House’s Small Business Council and has met with President Barack Obama — twice.
“Neither of us envisioned this kind of growth or success,” she said of her plans with her husband, the company’s brewmaster. “And it wasn’t really our goal. Our goal was always to make world-class beer and take care of the people that worked for us.”
New Glarus beer wouldn’t be flowing today without the SBA and local community banks.
“When you’re starting out you don’t have a proven track record, and without the support of the government, I don’t think we could’ve done it,” Dan said.
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