For Jim Jeffryes, brewing beer had always been a source of refuge from his stressful job in technology. That is, until 1998 when he decided to jump into brewing beer full time. Although Jim had brewed beer recreationally, he had never done it in the quantities he was going to need to support a brewery, so after purchasing land on 9th & Struthers in Grand Junction, he enrolled in beer school and took Leading Edge & How to Start a Business. Unfortunately, by the time Jim had finished his education, a major road project was started near 9th & Struthers that would make it difficult to operate a successful business until it was completed, so along with partners, the location near Mesa State College was secured. It took $130,000 in infrastructure improvements from the landlord and an additional $378,000 capital injection to open the doors to Kannah Creek Brewery in October 2005.
In 2011, Kannah Creek Brewing Company purchased equipment that allowed them to manufacture significantly larger quantities of beer which opened up a new market selling kegs to local restaurants. After only 2 years, the production reached its maximum capacity so in order to continue to grow, the project at 9th & Struthers had to move forward. Fortunately, the major construction along the Riverside Parkway had been completed which made this feasible. The lot was “shovel ready”, SBA financing was in place after a year of working with their local lender, and ground was broken October 2012. After 7 months, Edgewater Tap & Grill opened its doors to the public on May 9th, 2013 and has been warmly received by the community. Often times, there is not an open seat to be found so there is already discussion about expanding the seating area to the outside patio. In addition to great food, beer on tap, growlers to go, and selling kegs to restaurants, Edgewater has expanded their market to offer 6-packs of bottled beer available in liquor stores and on site starting June 2013.
Jim credits some of his success to working with the SBDC through counseling and Leading Edge. He said it was a real eye opening experience as Leading Edge showed him how complicated running a business could be if a person didn’t have the proper “tools” going into it. He felt Leading Edge and the SBDC provided him with those tools to succeed.
Jim’s advice to people looking to start a business is, “Have a plan & cash to open a business with. It’s not a hobby and takes lots of hard work.”