A little bit about how we’ve financed our brewery: It started with a business plan – 40 pages or so, the distilled essence of more than a year of research. To get it just right, we enlisted the help of two brewery consultants and local husband-and-wife team Rudy and Karen Fischer, who helped us develop our financial picture and strategies.
A big part of this work was figuring out how much money we needed to start up and run the brewery, and how we were going to pull it all together. For our particular situation, we decided we needed to bring in a combination of debt and equity: some would come from loans, and some would come from shareholders.
So, armed with the business plan, a slide deck and courage, we met with two people recommended by Rudy and Karen, over at Meridian Credit Union. Wouldn’t you know that one of them, Doug Bray, has not one but two brewery connections through his kids, and the other, D’Arcy Mulligan, is just a very smart guy who was willing to learn the business. They came out to meet us, looked over the site we were considering, and basically paid attention. That’s the best you can ask for from any institutional lender – they are actual people! Last August, Doug and D’Arcy let us know we’d been approved for a Canada Small Business Financing loan, as well as a smaller loan. At the time we were up in Parry Sound and had just come in from a hot paddle on a sunny lake. Refreshing news? Oh yes!
Since then, both have continued to be big supporters, as we’ve navigated the tricky waters of getting started. It has never felt like we’re dealing with a cold, impersonal bank – probably because they’re a credit union, not a bank, and definitely because these guys are true blue. Doug and D’Arcy, a toast to you!