Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Bartley!
Today’s featured Minnesota business owner is Bartley Blume, owner of Bent Brewstillery. Bent Brewstillery is a brewstillery headquartered in Roseville, MN that specializes in you guessed it! brews and booze.
Q. Hey Bartely! Thanks for being here today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how Bent Brewstillery came to be?
A. Sure! In 2007 my wife, Brenda, gifted me a Mr. Beer kit and what started as a hobby quickly attracted a cult following among family and friends. After a long stint in the aerospace industry, working both for a St. Paul-based aerospace engineering firm and previous to that, NASA, I went to work one day in 2012, turned on my computer, sighed and then walked across the hall and quit my job. I wanted to shed the shackles of corporate bondage. I went home early that day and told Brenda I had quit my job. She didn’t talk to me for a few weeks. After terminating my corporate career I shifted my focus and energy into developing a craft brew start up. In 2013, what became Bent Brewstillery merged with Twin Cities-based Pour Decisions Brewing Company, taking Bent to the next level and paving the way for the significant operation we run today. We have 8 full-time and 6 part-time employees . We are, in fact, the ONLY brewstillery in Minnesota.
Q. What do you love about what you do?
A. I love the creative aspect of my craft and being a part of a high-tech industry that is rich in tradition. Brewing and distilling combine science, process control, experimentation and creativity. I also love working hard and meeting so many great people.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your business and what did you learn from it?
A. The biggest challenge would definitely be working with the ebb and flow rhythm of supplier reliability. Our business has a lot of moving parts and an interruption in one part of the process can break down the entire process from production to packaging. I’ve learned to order what we need well in advance to allow for supplier delay.
Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. I would start Bent Brewstillery three years earlier. I wrote the business plan in 2008 and in 2009 the 6th brewery opened in Minnesota. I was logistically ready but wasn’t quite mentally ready to pull the trigger.
Q. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling. How do you manage to stay focused or re-focus when necessary?
A. I don’t know that I do. I just keep juggling. I’m very organized and have an incredibly detailed to-do list. My current list is 600 items long which can be pretty overwhelming. I start each day with a couple small to-dos to create momentum before tackling the bigger items.
Q. If you only had $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend it and why?
A. I’d spend it on marketing. I’d put it into brand image and social media. Marketing is how you win in the beer and liquor industry. If you take a more grassroots approach it takes longer to get the traction that bigger producers get.
Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are a couple of your favorite apps or software tools you use within your business?
A. Besides the social media apps I utilize My Notes on a daily basis. I also love Zoho for invoicing.
Q. If you could start any business today what business would you open?
A. I’d open a doggie daycare.
Thanks for your time, Bartley! Best wishes for continued success in all your brewing and distilling endeavors at Bent Brewstillery!
If you’d like to learn more about Bent Brewstillery you can visit them online at: www.bentbrewstillery.com
And if you’d like to be featured in an upcoming Made in Minnesota blog, or you know of a cool business that would be a great addition to the series, contact us and tell us why this business would make a great Made in Minnesota feature!