CEDR/SBDC Small Business Development Center Facilitates Business Expansion with Access to Capital
What once was a small “bottle shop” selling beer and wine at Astoria’s east end is now expanded to include brewing supplies, a tasting room with twelve taps, and classroom space for beer making enthusiasts — thanks in part to assistance provided by CEDR and the Small Business Development Center.
RJ Kiepke established Hondo’s Brew and Cork in 2005. The shop started in a portion of a small building Kiepke owns, the remainder of which was occupied at the time by a state-run liquor store.
About a year after Hondo’s opened, Kiepke began receiving more and more inquiries about brewing supplies (which he did not offer). “There are many home brewers in our area,” he said. “We started carrying supplies, and found there is a great deal of demand for them locally,” he added. Beer makers previously had to drive up to an hour or more for the simplest of items.
But Kiepke didn’t stop there. Building on the burgeoning community of local home brewers, he expanded his venture further to teach onsite brewing classes at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Administrators at Clatsop Community College learned about the classes offered at Hondo’s, and asked if Keipke would consider offering his classes through the College as well. Kiepke agreed, and that’s when he discovered CEDR, the regional economic development organization affiliated with Clatsop Community College and its Small Business Development Center.
“At the time, I was looking for financing to transform my business from a small shop to a big one. It can take $30,000 to $40,000 to stock a shop like this, and I wanted to finance some of that,” he explained. “But, I was not a retail guy. I needed help.”
Kiepke worked with Dick Powell, a business counselor with the Small Business Development Center, to get his financial records in order and to go to the bank for a loan. “We helped RJ compile all of the information the bank would be looking for in a successful loan application,” Powell said, “and we even accompanied him to meet with the lender a couple of times. While a loan decision is ultimately based on the applicant and his or her credentials, we helped ensure that RJ put his best foot forward,” Powell said, “and we also helped with some of the follow-up work.”
The support didn’t stop there. When the time came for Hondo’s Brew and Cork to formally launch its expanded store and tasting room in 2011, Powell connected Kiepke with local marketing resources to assist with public relations and advertising surrounding the effort.
In the meantime, things have taken off quickly for Hondo’s, especially since Kiepke devoted himself to managing the shop and teaching classes fulltime. “The expansion absolutely changed my business for the better,” he said.
CEDR/SBDC Small Business Development Center Provides New Business with Resources to Succeed
When David and Lancey Larson started High Life Adventures, a zip line tour in Warrenton, Oregon, their bookkeeper suggested a connection that would later prove to be invaluable. “Debbie was keeping books for another local company that was working with CEDR, and she suggested we get CEDR involved in our business, too,” Lancey said.
Dick Powell, a business counselor with the Small Business Development Center that is affiliated with CEDR, has been a part of the team at High Life Adventures ever since.
“We’ve addressed issues – both operational and financial – one at a time as they come up,” Powell said. “One of the big areas we’ve been able to assist with is marketing and promotion,” he added, noting that the company’s web presence and online reservation system were needs CEDR helped the Larsons address both economically and effectively.
“Dick is out in the community working with several businesses,” Lancey said, “and his network of resources is a big asset to us. He’s always bringing ideas — he’s talking to us now about search engine optimization, for example. We meet with him weekly and like having him as a mentor to bounce ideas off of,” she added. “He’s there for anything we have questions about.”
High Life Adventures was established in May 2012. Eight lines comprise the zip line tour that stretches over a mile and crosses a 7-acre lake. The facility is also available for team building activities, company picnics and other special events. “We’ve had customers as young as two-and-a-half years old, to as old as eighty-four,” Lancey said. “We didn’t really know what to expect when we started, but our first summer has been awesome.”
CEDR/SBDC Small Business Development Center Assists Brewery Expansion
“The president of Clatsop Community College came to the brewery for a tour,” said Fort George co-owner, Chris Nemlowill. “That’s what started the conversation with Clatsop Economic Development Resources and the CEDR/SBDC Small Business Development Center,” he said.
Nemlowill first met with the executive director of CEDR – which is part of the College organization – and then with the CEDR/SBDC business counselor. “We needed to know what it cost to make a keg of Vortex (the brewery’s signature beer) in order to justify our expansion,” Nemlowill said. “That doesn’t sound difficult, but it is when you consider expenses like gas and electricity that have to be split between beer production and kitchen operations,” he explained. “Our CEDR/SBDC business counselor looked at our financials, ran our books through analytical software, and was able to figure out what each keg costs to produce. He also got us started on a quarterly inventory schedule that we’ve since ramped up to a monthly routine,” Chris added.
The entire Fort George Brewery expansion involved several entities, including the City of Astoria, Enterprise Cascadia, Bank of Astoria, Business Oregon, CEDR/SBDC and others. “Everyone was willing, as long as they knew everyone else was in 100 percent,” Chris said. “And if there was ever a question, our business counselor was there for us.” As an example, the counselor worked with Pacific Power to reduce the cost of converting the expansion space from single-phase to three-phase power. “That would have been a $40,000 expense we’d not budgeted,” Nemlowill said. “Our business counselor showed Pacific Power the long-term value of our electrical consumption in the new facility, and worked with them to make the conversion happen without wrecking the budget,” he added.
The Fort George Brewery expansion included the purchase and remodel of an old 30,000-square foot Chevrolet dealership adjacent to the existing pub (est. 2007); construction of a new outdoor seating area; purchase and installation of a canning line; and purchase and installation of additional brewing equipment. The project was made possible by low-interest loans, a grant, and a loan that is forgivable dependent on the brewery adding 12 jobs over a specified period. The new canning line has been operational for just a few months, and employees are already being added to support the brewery’s increased production capacity.
The brewery held a public grand opening of its expanded facility and new canning operation on March 29, 2011.