Balance. It’s something so important and often talked about in a good beer. Moreover, it’s something we all need in our lives. The Chinese probably have the best way to describe it when they refer to yin and yang; opposite yet complementary forces that need each other to exist in harmony.
Ten years ago, we decided to take a leap into the unknown, do something exciting and start a small business. Chris left the corporate world and set his sights on a new challenge – take what was a failing business, turn it around and make it a successful one. From the start, our goal was clear; we wanted to have a business that was a “lifestyle” choice, something that was fun to be part of and connected us with our local community.
So we bought a small brewery in Boondall, run down and on the verge of closing. Our goal was to keep it small and establish an all-grain brew-on-premise brewery where people could come and make beer with us. However, having never run a brewery (or even a small business) before, we thought it would be better to run with the setup available to us (and served us well).
Chris read as much information as he could find on what was required and what to expect. He wrote detailed business plans, forecasts, you name it, he wrote it and Linda reviewed and refined it. We worked our arses off, over some very long hours, to turn the business around. We faced God-only knows how many challenges along the way (exiting business partner, bought a building and moved to Geebung, COVID just to name a few) but we got there. We had turned the brewery into a small, unique and successful all-grain brewery for the public. It was our little “Brewing Hub”.
Embracing the roller-coaster ride of running a small family business, we gave it all. Running the brewery had been all-encompassing. It’s no 9-5 job, being ‘on call’ 24/7 and many of our conversations at home revolved around what social media posts to do, ideas for beers, ways to grow the business…the list goes on and on.
At the same time, our daughter had grown from a young child to a teenager in a blink of an eye. She came on this ride with us, by default, from a young age and probably knows more about the ins and outs of running a business than she cares to admit. Quite frankly, if we were 14 year-old kids stuck listening to talk about beer all.the.time, growing up in a factory environment probably would have bored the crap out of us too. We lost count of the times we put the business ahead of family time. Time off from the brewery for the both of us to go and watch her play a football game on the weekend was as exciting as an overseas holiday.
Somewhere along the way, we lost the balance.
It took Chris’ health scare last year to make us take a step back and assess what it is that we were still trying to achieve. We kicked goals; and felt we have done what we set out to do and so much more.
It was time for change… a big change.
We mulled over several options for a long time, undecided which path was the ‘right’ one:
- Sell the business and just be a landlord – generally a slow process, you never get what you think your business is worth and we have no desire to be a landlord
- Sell the building and brewery as a single asset – it seems unlikely there’d be many people willing to buy a small brewery in a big asset so again, one would have to question the ability to achieve this
- Sell the building and the assets separately – selling a commercial building takes time and we’ll have to wait until the building is sold before we can consider selling the assets
Fate has it that a commercial real estate broker contacted us three weeks ago. Real estate could be at the peak. The brewery premises could be worth more than we thought. Interest rates are rising fast, so the time to act was now.
For the cost of a simple marketing campaign, we rolled the dice again (we figured there was nothing to lose and we can review in a few months’ time). We didn’t set our expectations high – rates increased just as we signed with the agents and buyers are probably spooked, but at least we’ll get a feel for this when things settle down. The building was advertised on a Monday; we received a verbal offer on Wednesday and by lunchtime Friday, the contract was signed and unconditional. That was fast! Wow! Much faster than we thought!
That brings us to here and now. Today. This blog.
The stats show that many small businesses don’t survive their first three years’ but we did. We took a business from the brink of collapse and turned it into something successful. It’s an achievement that we are immensely proud of.
Many people will say we should have done this differently; why not sell the business, why not keep working, why just close? There are always other ways to do something, but we wanted a quick, clean resolution and did not want to be left with self-doubt about the decision. Do we think selling the building in under five days was extreme? Yes. Do we think it was the right decision? Absolutely. 100%. And it’s important to us that we’re going out on our terms.
We want to give a huge shoutout to all the staff that have contributed along the way – Simon, Zach, Bondy, Jeremy, Heath, Ross, Frankie, Jayden, Izzy, Grace, Finn, Maeve and Brandon. Special mention to our newest team members (Izzy, Grace, Finn, Maeve and Brandon) – they’ve only been with us this year but they’ve been the most amazing team we could have hoped for. If anyone looking for some awesome staff, get in touch as these guys are good. Really (really) good.
OK, so where to from here?
This is not a final good-bye.
The brewery will open (with food trucks and Sunday live music) until Sunday 14 August, so the beer will keep flowing until then.
For those who are keen to setup a mini brew house at home or add additional equipment to your setup, there is plenty of small-batch brewery equipment available, plus everything else to setup your own bar at home. A list of items for sale will be available this week (stay tuned for more details).
After everything is done and the dust settles a bit, we’ll take timeout to relax and enjoy some life balance. In the meantime, there is still much to do from here and the next few weeks are going to be hectic!
There are so many positive things that we will take with us, especially the love and support from everyone we call our ‘Hub family’. Thank you to all that have been part of the story of Hub Brewing.
Chris and Linda