WOW guys, this is our 100th episode of the podcast. It's amazing to think it's been 2 1/2 years and there is still so much depth to our industry and so much more to bring you! Service, Finance, Marketing & Operations tips to help you Rock Your Restaurant! Thank you so much for your kind words and appreciation.
You have to listen to this amazing episode.
I have known Mr. Fred Forsley for over 20 years and have watched in awe and admiration as he has built a hospitality empire, from restaurants, to brewery operations, partnerships with the biggest names in beer, to inns and real estate projects on a national and international level.
You’ll hear his early inspirations and success, major deals gone awry, optimism for future projects and how he maintains direction with his partners and hundreds of employees across numerous operations.
Above all, Fred is regular guy you’d like to have a beer with. He’s humble, appreciative of other’s efforts and contributions and well-liked and respected by all who meet him.
Its been my pleasure to know and learn from Fred over the years and I just knew that he would be the perfect guest for this most important milestone episode.
You can connect with Fred at [email protected] or www.facebook.com/fforsley. You can learn more about Shipyard Brewing at https://shipyard.com/
Give this episode a listen then go out there and Rock Your Restaurant!
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
Full episode transcription available below.
DON'T MISS A SINGLE EPISODE. SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST ON ITUNES SO YOU CAN LISTEN IN YOUR CAR, WHILE YOU WALK YOUR DOG OR WHILE YOU TRAVEL! KNOWLEDGE ON THE GO + FOOD FOR THOUGHT!
Restaurant Rockstars has customers in 22+ countries and we are just getting started!
Join our movement today to help restaurant owners and managers on a global level ROCK THEIR RESTAURANTS! This mission is so important to us that we are offering a crazy generous commission plan. Check it out!
More Great Podcast Episodes:
- Jun 20, 2018 Episode #121 One Word That Creates Staff Magic! Jun 20, 2018
- Jun 6, 2018 Episode #120 The Only Way To Staff Your Restaurant Jun 6, 2018
- May 31, 2018 Episode #119 Build Your Brand Inside and Out! May 31, 2018
- May 24, 2018 Episode #118 The AMAZING Power of EMPOWERING YOUR STAFF! May 24, 2018
- May 17, 2018 Episode #117 Ambiance or Food, Which Comes First? May 17, 2018
- May 10, 2018 Episode #116 When Concept Executions Go Wrong (or right) May 10, 2018
- May 3, 2018 Episode #115 Your Recipe For Success Fails Without This ONE Ingredient May 3, 2018
- Apr 24, 2018 Episode #114 Stay Relevant or Become the Next Restaurant Statistic! Apr 24, 2018
- Apr 17, 2018 Episode #113 Launching a New Concept - Mr Bing On Fire in NYC! Apr 17, 2018
- Apr 12, 2018 Episode #112 Talking Restaurants with World-Renowned Celebrity Chef David Burke Apr 12, 2018
- Apr 4, 2018 Episode #111 Where else can you get $250,000 in 10 Minutes? Apr 4, 2018
- Mar 27, 2018 Episode #110 Your people are your greatest asset Mar 27, 2018
- Mar 21, 2018 Episode #109 It’s All About Cash Flow And ROI Mar 21, 2018
- Mar 13, 2018 Episode #108 Build Your Brand with Ideas For Holidays & Big Events Mar 13, 2018
- Mar 7, 2018 Episode #107 Last Minute Tax Advice from an Industry Expert Mar 7, 2018
- Mar 1, 2018 Episode #106 Marketing Firepower Starts With Your Brand! Mar 1, 2018
- Feb 14, 2018 Episode #105 Why We Love That Old Staff Magic! Feb 14, 2018
- Feb 8, 2018 Episode #104 So You Think You Want To Start A Restaurant Feb 8, 2018
- Feb 1, 2018 Episode #103 Build Your House On This Foundation! Feb 1, 2018
- Jan 24, 2018 Episode #102 Can Your Operation Use a Makeover? Jan 24, 2018
- Jan 17, 2018 Episode #101 In The Age Of Online Reviews This Is Dangerous Thinking Jan 17, 2018
- Jan 10, 2018 Episode #100 Key Learnings from a Global Hospitality Entrepreneur Jan 10, 2018
- Dec 22, 2017 Top 5 Podcast Episodes of 2017 Dec 22, 2017
- Dec 13, 2017 Episode #99 The Truth About Your Competitors Dec 13, 2017
- Dec 5, 2017 Episode #98 If You Build It Will They REALLY Come? Dec 5, 2017
- Nov 28, 2017 Episode #97 Inventory in Half the Time, No Kidding! Nov 28, 2017
- Nov 14, 2017 Episode #96 Too Crazy To Believe - A True Story Nov 14, 2017
- Nov 2, 2017 Episode #95 Is Technology Replacing True Hospitality in your Operation Nov 2, 2017
- Oct 25, 2017 Episode #94 More Money in Your Register, Night after Night! Oct 25, 2017
- Oct 17, 2017 Episode #93 A Winning Strategy For Your Restaurant From Your Favorite Sports Team Oct 17, 2017
- Oct 11, 2017 Episode #92 HIT THE JACKPOT with your Restaurant’s Marketing Oct 11, 2017
- Sep 26, 2017 Episode #91 Is Your Restaurant Running You? Sep 26, 2017
- Sep 14, 2017 Episode #90 Maybe The Most Important PROFIT BUILDER In Your Restaurant Sep 14, 2017
- Sep 6, 2017 Episode #89 Are Millennials REALLY Hard to Manage? Sep 6, 2017
- Aug 29, 2017 Episode #88 Astounding Service That Knocked My Socks Off Aug 29, 2017
- Aug 22, 2017 Episode #87 Make THOUSANDS of NEW DOLLARS with Relationships Aug 22, 2017
- Aug 17, 2017 Episode #86 How To Crush Restaurant Marketing With Erik Shellenberger Aug 17, 2017
- Aug 8, 2017 Episode #85 I Started A Mug Club And Earned Almost $50K More A Year! Aug 8, 2017
- Aug 4, 2017 Episode #84 The Secret To Getting + Keeping Great Restaurant Staff Aug 4, 2017
- Jul 26, 2017 Episode #83 8 Great Things To Tell Your Staff Today Jul 26, 2017
- Jul 18, 2017 Episode #82 The Cash Is In Your Pocket Or Theirs Jul 18, 2017
- Jul 10, 2017 Episode #81 Staff Turnover...NEVER again... Jul 10, 2017
- Jul 5, 2017 Episode #80 These 3 Things are Vital to Your Success Jul 5, 2017
- Jun 22, 2017 Episode #79 How To Deliver AMAZING Customer Experiences Jun 22, 2017
- Jun 13, 2017 Episode #78 Disaster may be around the Next Corner Jun 13, 2017
- Jun 6, 2017 Episode #77 Get Bulletproof or Die! Jun 6, 2017
- May 31, 2017 Episode #76 A Financial Expert Tells All May 31, 2017
- May 23, 2017 Episode #75 Are your Customers Peeved? May 23, 2017
- May 16, 2017 Episode #74 WOW Your Customer or your Competitors Will! May 16, 2017
- May 9, 2017 Episode #73 A Secret Weapon For Your STAFF May 9, 2017
- May 1, 2017 Episode #72 Here’s A Profit Center More Profitable than your Restaurant! May 1, 2017
- Apr 25, 2017 Episode #71 How To Print Money in your Restaurant with Cash Cows Apr 25, 2017
- Apr 18, 2017 Episode #70 Explode Your Restaurant’s Marketing Firepower! Apr 18, 2017
- Apr 13, 2017 Episode #69 "Paramount Service" Knows NO Pricepoint! Apr 13, 2017
- Apr 6, 2017 Episode #68 Secrets From A 5-Star Kitchen w/ Rachel Wiener of the St. Regis Deer Valley Apr 6, 2017
- Mar 28, 2017 Episode #67 Could You Leave Your Restaurant? Exit Strategy Part 2 Mar 28, 2017
- Mar 22, 2017 Episode #66 Never Quit, Never Say Die Mar 22, 2017
- Mar 17, 2017 Episode #65 How To Absolutely Dominate The Competition! Mar 17, 2017
- Mar 9, 2017 Episode #64 The Money’s Either in Your Pocket or Theirs! Mar 9, 2017
- Feb 22, 2017 Episode #63 The Heart & Soul of a Restaurateur Feb 22, 2017
- Feb 14, 2017 Episode #62 Would Your Restaurant Win an Oscar? Feb 14, 2017
- Feb 2, 2017 Episode #61 What Would Happen if You Left Your Restaurant? Feb 2, 2017
- Jan 26, 2017 Episode #60 Why and When You Should Close Your Restaurant Jan 26, 2017
- Jan 9, 2017 Episode #59 Recipe for Disaster in Your Restaurant Jan 9, 2017
- Jan 2, 2017 Episode # 58 How to Tell if your Menu is Printing Money or Losing Money Jan 2, 2017
- Dec 27, 2016 Episode #57 Find Out NOW if Your Least Profitable Menu Items are Your Biggest Sellers! Dec 27, 2016
- Dec 21, 2016 Episode #56 How to Save 4% on your Food Cost - Do This Now! Dec 21, 2016
- Dec 12, 2016 Episode #55 Dominate Your Competition With Personalized Guest Service Dec 12, 2016
- Dec 7, 2016 Episode #54 How To Sell More Gift Cards This Holiday Season! Dec 7, 2016
- Dec 5, 2016 Episode #53 A Simple APP That Rocks Your Beverage Sales & Trains Your Staff - PART 2 Dec 5, 2016
- Nov 28, 2016 Episode #52 This Chain Has it Dialed & Your Restaurant Can Too! Nov 28, 2016
- Nov 22, 2016 Episode #51 Are There Leaks In Your Restaurant's Labor Costs? Nov 22, 2016
- Nov 16, 2016 Episode #50 Boost Your Beverage Sales & Train Your Staff With One Simple App Nov 16, 2016
- Nov 7, 2016 Episode #49 Is Hospitality A Lost Art? Nov 7, 2016
- Nov 1, 2016 Episode #48 Why The Absolute Best Servers Assume The Sale Nov 1, 2016
- Oct 24, 2016 Episode #47 This FREE Restaurant App Is A Game Changer Oct 24, 2016
- Oct 20, 2016 Episode #46 - Hiring the Wrong People with the Wrong Approach? Oct 20, 2016
- Oct 17, 2016 Episode #45 Part 2 - Your Burning Restaurant Questions Continued with Jaime Oikle of Running Restaurants Oct 17, 2016
- Oct 12, 2016 Episode #44 Part 1 - Burning Questions From Restaurant Owners with Jaime Oikle of Running Restaurants Oct 12, 2016
- Oct 4, 2016 Episode #43 TOP TIP - Why Fast Food and Full-Serve Restaurants Don't Mix Oct 4, 2016
- Sep 27, 2016 Episode #42 Systemize Your Restaurant Right From The Start Sep 27, 2016
- Sep 14, 2016 Episode #41 Fix what's broken or you'll repeat your mistakes! Sep 14, 2016
- Sep 1, 2016 Episode #40 Don't Hire Another Employee Until You Hear This Sep 1, 2016
- Aug 17, 2016 Episode #39 You Can’t Have TOO Many HOOKS!! Aug 17, 2016
- Aug 3, 2016 Episode #38 Kill It Or Get Killed - 25 Actionable Ideas For Your Restaurant! Aug 3, 2016
- Jul 28, 2016 Episode #37 Fill Your Seats night after night for $300 Jul 28, 2016
- Jul 20, 2016 Episode #36 TOP TIP - Why CLOSING your Restaurant will SAVE you $$$! Jul 20, 2016
- Jul 13, 2016 Episode #35 A Rocking Marketing System On The Cheap Jul 13, 2016
- Jun 18, 2016 Episode #34 Don’t Fear Technology… Fear a Restaurant without a System! Jun 18, 2016
- Jun 7, 2016 Episode #33 Wobbly Tables Wobble Your Customer - The Solution Once and For All Jun 7, 2016
- May 31, 2016 Episode #32 This Customer Convenience Adds Higher Profit Sales Without Taking Up Seats May 31, 2016
- May 18, 2016 Episode #31 How to Run A Restaurant That Doesn't Run You - Jaime Oikle of RunningRestaurants.com May 18, 2016
- May 11, 2016 Episode #30 The Real Scoop on your State Restaurant Association May 11, 2016
- May 9, 2016 Episode #29 If Your Staff Doesn't Notice, Your Guests Will! May 9, 2016
- May 4, 2016 Episode #28 Eric Cacciatore of Restaurant Unstoppable - Why I Surround Myself With Industry Leaders May 4, 2016
- May 2, 2016 Episode #27 How to Build Your Brand & Print Money by Dining in Your Own Restaurant! May 2, 2016
- Apr 27, 2016 Episode #26 Got the Back of House Blues? Here’s your Answer! Apr 27, 2016
- Apr 25, 2016 Episode #25 Is Your Restaurant Crazy Profitable or Just Popular? Apr 25, 2016
- Apr 20, 2016 Episode #24 How To Launch A Hot New Concept With Brett Payne Of Classic Rock Coffee Apr 20, 2016
- Apr 18, 2016 Episode #23 When Hospitality Goes Wrong - And I Wine! Apr 18, 2016
- Apr 13, 2016 Episode #22 What Happened to the Service in a Service Business? An Interview with Chef James Clary. Apr 13, 2016
- Mar 10, 2016 Episode #21 The MEGA Power of Your Restaurant's Daily Pre-shift Meeting Mar 10, 2016
- Feb 9, 2016 Episode #20 The Power of Using Restaurant Intelligence To Build Your Business & Brand Feb 9, 2016
- Feb 3, 2016 Episode #19 What's My Dentist Got To Do With It? Feb 3, 2016
- Dec 21, 2015 Episode #18 Building Your Dream Team Dec 21, 2015
- Dec 11, 2015 Episode #17 Fantastic Food Overshadowed By Inconsistency Dec 11, 2015
- Dec 11, 2015 Episode #16 The Challenges of Leasing vs Buying Dec 11, 2015
- Oct 30, 2015 Episode #15 The devil is in the details in Denver Oct 30, 2015
- Oct 12, 2015 Episode #13 - Get a free copy of my new book Oct 12, 2015
- Oct 1, 2015 Sales Stars Server Training - Double Your Profits Oct 1, 2015
- Oct 1, 2015 Episode #12 - The Power of A Kid Friendly Restaurant Oct 1, 2015
- September 2015
- Aug 27, 2015 Episode #9 - Is Your Restaurant Wildly Successful? Aug 27, 2015
- Aug 18, 2015 Episode #8 - Make More Money Aug 18, 2015
- Aug 11, 2015 Episode #7 - Are You Running a Restaurant or a BUSINESS? Aug 11, 2015
- Aug 4, 2015 Episode #6 How to Build Affinity, Loyalty and Repeat Business. Aug 4, 2015
- Jul 20, 2015 Episode #5 - An Amazing Dining Experience in Columbus Ohio Jul 20, 2015
- Jul 14, 2015 Episode #4 - How to Cost Your Menu to Maximize your Profits Jul 14, 2015
- Jul 2, 2015 Episode #3 - How to Achieve a Restaurant Hat-Trick Jul 2, 2015
- Jun 23, 2015 Episode #2 - Assume the Sale Jun 23, 2015
- Jun 15, 2015 Episode #1 - Create a Kick-Ass Brand (not just a restaurant) Jun 15, 2015
Episode #100 Transcription:
You're tuned in to the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast, powerful ideas to rock your restaurant. Here's your host Roger Beaudoin. Rockstars, this is my 100th episode of the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast, so it's a really big deal for me.
Along the way we've heard from industry leaders, companies with leading edge technology and innovative entrepreneurs with big ideas. So I'm super excited to bring you today's guest who encompasses the true art and definition of hospitality on a national and global level. He speaks of his triumphs, his big deals gone awry and future opportunities always with optimism, grace and grand vision. Don't miss this big 100th episode; I'm really glad you're here, listen on.
[Start of Interview]
Roger: Welcome back Rockstars to the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast engaging topics to help restaurants build their brands, rocked their profits and deliver amazing guest service experiences. If you're a regular listener you know that I'm a huge believer in systems.
Otherwise you're tied to your business and if you want to expand and grow and franchise or even sell your business, you really need systems in place, so I'm really excited to introduce Mr. Fred Forsley here today, he is the president of Shipyard Brewing Company, which is the largest brewery in Maine and he's a multifaceted entrepreneur. Welcome to the show today Fred!
Fred: Hey! Good morning
Roger: I'm really glad you're here you know Fred, you've got a multifaceted business enterprise, you've got Captain Eli Soda Company, you've got Federal Jacks which really started it all, the Sea Dog Brewing Companies, numerous restaurants, you've got airport brewpubs, all sorts of stuff going on here, even in the Hospitality and Inn business. The Inn Peaks Island. So I know you had some early influences to entrepreneurship, why don't we start there? What's your back story? I know you started at a very young age.
Fred: Yeah Roger, actually my Dad was a World War II Vet and he and my mother started a home for Veterans in Gray Maine. He's a prisoner of war in the South Pacific and he started his home which basically has a young child that actually was a business even though he was a Psychologist and a therapist we all had to play a part in that family business.
So, I started there and then that and early exposure to real estate became a real estate broker at Nineteen and from real estate and being exposed to running your own you know really as a real estate broker, you run your own little business, I get exposed to a lot of different things and involved from there and that's why I ended up in the beer business with failed real estate deal in Kennebunkport Harbor back in Nineteen now it started in 1989 and opened the brewery 1992
Roger: That's a really, really, fascinating beginning Fred, you just mentioned that this was sort of a failing real estate venture in Kennebunkport or it was a deal that fell through but I think this was sort of a on the wrong side of the tracks kind of place and Kennebunkport was a really, really, growing tourist destination, you saw an opportunity is that kind of how it all started?
Fred: Exactly! It was a on the wrong side of the river they call the area taint town and it was vacant at the time, I had a woman in a lobster suit when I first opened the front of the street waving people in and I never forget the first 4TH of July there was you know, Five Thousand people in the center Kennebunkport, there was a Ten people, Nine people in the brewpub. So you know we had to create events and great experience to bring people over and now today 25years later, I would say one of the top brewpubs in the country and now last summer was one of our best summers.
Roger: That's awesome! You know it sounds to me like when you first started, you didn't really know anything or much about the restaurant or the brewery business, so how did you immerse yourself and create that early success?
Fred: Basically, I got involved with people that really did know what they're doing and they were seen as kind of leaders at the time and their category Richard Pfaff, ………, McDuff's I tried to get him to come in as a tenant and he actually introduced me to Alan Pugsley and Alan at the time was consulting, Alan is an English guy consultant on a number of breweries and from there yeah I've never worked in the restaurant, I’ve been a doorman at bars, in restaurants, in college, so really that I tried to attract the best people to work for me and I put a lot of faith in I think our key people, some of them are still with me 25years later, I would say that they're you know they gave me a lot opportunity to do what they do well
Roger: I love the story Fred, so the original place which is still in business today and its still part of your fold is called ‘Federal Jacks’ and that is in Kennebunkport, now let's talk about how the brewing in the restaurant came together, did one come before the other I mean how did you get into brewing? I mean you just mentioned Alan Pugsley being the brew master did you start the whole thing simultaneously as a brew pub restaurant?
Fred: Well the interesting part was, we were only--I was a real estate guy, I raised the money to put the brewery in Kennebunkport brewing downstairs from what was then called The Lobster Deck, technically were in Kennebunk, but at the time you know Kennebunkport was getting a lot of exposure because of George Bush, so we leverage that exposure and we were selling the beer upstairs to the gentleman who own The Lobster Deck and to be honest with you, what happened there was he didn't really want to concentrate on promoting just our B.S. and that led me to ultimately buy him out, long story over three seasons in ultimately run the whole upper level which was really separated into two separate spaces, we ultimately run it as one space now, so there was an evolution in the early years, I was trying to get to what really would work well, so yes I didn't, I open it with the understanding that I was going to be the funding agent and help coordinate being the business guy behind it, but we ultimately took it over and ran it because the gentleman on the lobster deck and his wife they went separate ways and he said, “I don't want to run it” and next thing you know, I'm running a brewery and then the next year, I'm running the whole place here now
Roger: OK So then you drive north about an hour plus to Portland Maine beautiful seacoast town on the on the coast of Maine and now there's another sort of area in need of revitalization where you're now, your base of operations the shipyard Brewing Company, so how did you evolve into that space and take us through that whole thing?
Fred: Because of my background in real estate, I actually own a small property around the corner on a street called India Street and the property that was in an area town that had a number of vacated buildings that were abandoned and then they were still owned by people, but they weren’t occupied and there was a large piece of property, 4.3acres of property called Crosby Laughlin Plant, it was an abandoned foundering and I was in a bankrupt trust and I always saw it as a valuable piece of property because it was on a location that overlooked the ocean and at the time, the harbor was not as pristine as it is today, it was more of a working harbor.
Today, 24years later, it's become a tourist town almost Portland, but at the time I worked through the city to get some incentives tax incremental financing and I kind of put it together over a period of 2years and actually was able to buy the property at a very aggressive price and got a tariff which was, it was a 10year tariff in which I could take whatever property tax value increased and put that back into the property and we started small with Five Thousand Square Feet, now we occupy a Hundred Thousand Square Feet, now there are Three hotels located around us, the whole area is kind of grown up and there's no vacant property. So over a 25year period still kind of the vision the city had and we had kind of came through, it all did come through, so that's one of our main brewing areas now is right here in Portland Maine
Roger: Now there's so much to your story Fred, we get in the Seadog Brewing Company and different restaurants, we also had exposure with Miller Brewing and I want to hear all about that because at one point you got involved with the Miller Brewing Company and then obviously there's the brewpubs in the airports, take us through all these stuff
Fred: Yeah so it's a--it is, there's a lot of different things, so I'll start where we are today, where we are today where, we basically have Thirteen locations, Eight Seadog group from one in Orlando to Clearwater too, we just opened one up in St Pete Treasure Island on the water overnight and our employees and some great people have been with us for many, many years, so I started after the Portland location, we were the fastest growing brewery in the country in 1996 and the great thing was we were growing, the bad thing was we needed a lot of capital and at the time, I went out to a lot of different players and Miller Brewing was trying to put together a craft vision they had going to Africa sell a spring in Austin Texas, they owned lining cool and I met Jake Whining long story short, they bought 50% of the brewery and from 97 to 2000, they were a partner and it went really well for 18months and then when Philip Morris along Miller realized that Miller Lite was in trouble, they basically said we don't want anybody to focus on anything, they also other than Miller Lite, they also own Molson rights to Molson in the US at the time and basically everything fell apart, they just focused on Miller and all lining and I lost my support on the sales side, so luckily I was able to buy it back in 2000 and I still to this day, I'm friendly with a couple key people.
They ultimately sold out to South African breweries and South African breweries just recently sold to Imbeb, so their whole strategy of selling Millard, I felt more strategy paid off big for them because they rolled that into a billion dollars where the return they'd cap some of Miller and Miller sold to Imbeb for over One Hundred Billion you know, 3years ago. So long story short, that was a probably the most beneficial and frustrating partnership I ever had.
Beneficial they came in with capital and distribution and when they'd shut off that energy and money and distribution, we fell down to a very low level of 18,000 barrels and now we're over 120,000barrels.
So those are some big things with our company, as we bought it back, we started to have great success with a brand called ‘Pumpkin Head’ and basically it was one of the leading brands of our company which led to the company to grow 30% a year from the year 2000, the year we brought it back to where we are today and now it's seen as one of the top national pumpkin beers in the world really. So basically, that was kind of a key point, but when they started a hick up on supporting me, they agreed to allow me to pursue other breweries and other interests and at the time, Seadog Brewing Company was in trouble and I bought it out of bankruptcy, then we grew the brewpub side, so that led me more into the brewpub business. Recently in the last 3years, we've opened up Three new Sea Dogs in where we're about to open up a new one in March, we're on the construction in Exeter New Hampshire we're looking at another location in Newport Rhode Island, so we're still looking very aggressively to grow the seadog brewpub concept.
We've had some great success in licensing shipyards to Coast Maria which operates through the pubs in airports, but we actually owned our own brewery in Orlando airport for 5years from 1996-2000. That was an exciting thing, it was the only actual brewery brewing large amounts of beer in an airport and some people that went through the Orlando airport in those days would remember. So, it had some great experiences over the years, I'm 57 and probably never been more excited about the beer business, never been more challenged, but still as you know Roger, when we met last time having a few beers it's a fun, fun, fun business, but it is a business and if you work hard, you can definitely succeed, but it's got all the pitfalls and more of any business, especially you know restaurants, when you look at how dynamic they are, how complicated, it’s a simple business but complicated
Roger: Wow! That is such a fascinating story and history, I knew that you started out obviously in the local main markets and then you spread out regionally and then you got down into the Florida area, but now I think you said that you were national, is that with all the different brands that you're producing or is that specific brands?
Fred: Pumpkin Head has been one of the biggest door openers, we sell Pumpkin head, Pumpkin Head almost makes it to every state, if you can't get it, get older me or get a hold your local distributor and see who does sell it, but basically you know every August, we start shipping the other brand that's national and pretty much does well without a lot of and selling is the Seadog blue power and now Seadog sunfish, but the blueberry you know, is probably one of the number one blueberry beers in the country and you know the yard house chain, it's been one of their top sellers on draft for years and you know, that does really well and you know, you really well is to sell 5-7-hundred cases in Arkansas or something like that or Ten Thousand or Twenty Thousand cases in California, but we are, we ship those two brands, we do get calls from Monkey fest in our island time IPA in a lot of other states and we do ship our exports, we have a relationship, we can probably get beer anywhere in the country, but our primary areas in New York, New Jersey, New England and we focus on Florida, California
We can get our beer anywhere, but with those are our primary areas, recently I just did a joint venture with a minority partner in Michigan Traverse City, Michigan and we licensed the monkey because brewing company name and we're doing a bunch of beers with some friends of mine there, we've got unique relationships in the St John's with Sherag, his partners down there basically, we brew a beer here that they formulate and they come up and brew and then they serve some of our beers down in St John among those junction they've had a terrible tragic year with the storms and they're trying to rebuilt, where they are rebuilding, but it's definitely you know hurt them and have a great, great, people.
So, we've got some unique relationships; our biggest success story recently is with Marston's in the UK and we're presently on our way to being the number one on premise crappier in the UK with our collaboration with Marston's which is, they own 7breweries and they run over 2,000Pubs and they sell Dupree pub holds that they call them you know independent guys, we're selling close to 26,000barrels and growing in the UK.
And very exciting because there's a big chain of restaurants called ‘JD with a spoon’ and they have over 900locations and 50Inns and if you google it when you're over there, you can go visit it with us and they have the same menu at every location for Beer and their drink menu and pretty much the same on food they're a great value but every location is a little different.
They’ve renovated movie houses and Churches and created really cool spaces. They're like fourteen in Ireland they have a number of them in England.
And it's so exciting to be partners with this company because it's a public company and it's a major, major relationship but I personally friendly with a number of the people in the company and they visited Portland Maine, they've stayed in our homes, last year we had eleven come visit and we got them on a tall ship in the harbor and we ended up winning the race and I picked them up at the airport with about 10cases a beer and brought them to Portland and picked them up at Boston by the time we got to Portland, the beer was gone that just does that a crowd.
So, I spent 4days with them and I needed to check in the rehab after that but we had a lot of fun. There’s one guy Dave Saunders who mentioned to me, “Fred I'm going to visit you in July” so of course David showed up July 4th and it is kind of all day and we had a bunch of family things going on he says, “That's no problem” he says, “Not all holidays for us” as a joke.
But anyways I brought all the parties and it was a big hit because he's a character. We have you know you get these unique relationships down in Key West, we have [inaudible 17:19] chain locations are all different it's the Green Parrot, the half-shell. It’s a tower bar and out a Salem promote shipyard there and we become personal friends with the guys that own it pack roaches on a 76sender and it's just cool stuff.
Recently I just got involved in a minority partner in this brand called ‘South Beach Brewing’ and they have this guy, there's a whole team of people.
The Lorenzo who's the President but Anthony Soli... of Oxy Clean is a partner in the deal he fell in love with the brand because it's got electrolytes in it and it's a very easy drinking beer but it’s handcrafted we have formulated it, lots of exciting stuff
Roger: I really want to talk about the challenges of growing a multifaceted enterprise; you talked about this being the business of relationships it certainly is it's a fun, business you're really socially outgoing guy Fred, a lot of fun to hang out with so obviously networking is a party your success as well.
But you know you couldn't do any of this stuff without having systems in place and hiring great people and being able to delegate all the key functions of these multifaceted businesses to others. How did you put these systems in place and what were some of those big growing pains and challenges to get those systems in place?
Fred: You know I think the biggest thing was in my Mother used to say, [ ] business it owns you don't own it and she didn't always take that advice because she did like 6people's jobs and I think you had to start with the Wherever you can the right people and they'll either purchase or seek out the right systems or build the right systems.
They own it starting with me with Alan Pugsley and Bruce Forsley, you set up some systems for you know sales relationships but recently especially in the last 3-6years, I think you've seen a lot of ability to buy into technology that has proven to build systems that can really help restaurants and before all that, I think you’ve got to have a good Bank or a good lender or somebody who can write in the system that helping you through difficult times, provide, you know, the model work.
So, once you do that, the first system we brought was a brewing system and that was a Pugsley system and that was it was a lot of hand crafted beer but the brewing process was 8 days. So, the key to that system was it was 4days quicker than any other brewery at the time that was built out there, that was a big point.
The second system, we really had to buy was a POS system and you know that's the beginning of your existence and in reality they can work for you and against you and that's a huge area in the restaurant business. I think that keeps getting better and better and better and you really got to keep your eyes open.
We had a disastrous situation trying to go to SMS system on our brewery in which you know we had to abandon it in the middle of it and we ended up losing a great deal of money and my advice there would be, “Find somebody that's at it, don't be the guy that beta tests. Your time and energy has such a value to it, you're better off doing it by hand if it hasn't worked for at least three to a thousand other people.
Because that whole thing you know we were seen as a beta test and it turned out to be a disaster. So, try to buy good equipment that's proven, try to buy into systems that are proven because at the end of the day, someone walks into your restaurant-- they want to see a smiling face.
Most people, they want to see at the restaurant and they want to walk out with a smile and the more things that you know take away from customer service and human interaction because we're going so far away from human interaction; it's so funny recently I was in New York City and I was looking for a pumpkin head and I went into three different bars and I finally found one but the Bar-Attender was so such a poor experience I had one and left. Luckily I you know went around the corner and found another one that had pumpkin, I’ve been searching for a location in my brain here that Bar-Attender made the whole experience so great had six of them and that’s the truth, I stayed and watched the football games, hangout all afternoon but I would've been in the other bar for at least that amount you know what I'm saying? And the experience is key; you got to have good people.
Roger: Fred what is a typical day in your life like business wise? Like you get up today tomorrow it's like what's your day going to be like on a typical day.
I mean you're traveling quite a bit I'm sure but is every single day different? Today I'm going to focus on seadog and tomorrow I'm going to focus on this particular enterprise and I'm going to go down to Florida and oversee this new development down there and you mentioned a new place in Newport Rhode Island. I mean you're all over the map like how do you put it all together?
Fred: Well, I’ll just give you my last you know in the last week, I've been between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Boston and now I'm in Portland Maine.
I usually up around four 4:30-5 o'clock and I go online and look at all the e-mails and respond to them.
Today for example on my real estate, had on I'm trying to lease some space and interfacing with a company called Cloud Port that the temporary it’s a flex office space and talking to a guy in Madrid that owns it and he's trying to get him expand and from there, I've been talking with our sales team about what's going on, call the local retailer that a put our winter beer on or not had a discussion about the hotel that's going across the street in contacting him and then talk to the owner of the real estate guy on Newport deal, going over the business deal and then walk through the breweries, connect with my Mother, footsteps of the farmer Gates the feels.
So, at the end of the day, if you don't see people what you meant by there you got to see what's going on. So, I like to walk through the brewery talk to the—traveling, I end up talking to 9people in my company to find out what's going on and then crosscheck between the two or three of them to make sure.
We still miss a lot so that's like you know what happens and it's one of the crazy things recently in the last 3years that would be a huge benefit for me is UBER. UBER drivers I'll take an UBER drive you know like in Miami and I met a guy named Nick Hu, was a retired Military guy and I can call him. He'll go do you know he's easy great guy a pick me up at the airport I'll do whatever and I don’t even know the car anymore and I find that the local UBER drivers are a great source of information.
That's a tip; I'm lucky enough to have some good people and the key really is trying not to communicate with them on a regular basis because people get into their own silos.
You can't really connect with them if you give them a disconnect for a week and they're active you know, you're going to miss a lot.
Roger: How would you describe your management style?
Fred: Very loose. I mean, I'm probably a bad example for I mean, it's like if you had to say like the know 6-minute Manager.
You give me the top three or four things you got that I can help you with and then the stuff you get covered, it’s just you don't need to bother me with it. I assume you've got it covered but ask a question and I'll answer it, if you don't ask, and you should or I’ll get upset with you.
If you blow something up and you didn't ask me, it's a lot more trouble than if you didn’t. I'm a big guy on not having these 3page e-mails and a big guy on a three sent text or a quick call yes/no answer on my end and keep moving because when I did the right person to know 90% of the small answers, I got the wrong person.
Roger: Let's talk about partnerships; a long time ago when I first started my first restaurant a Chef that I had hired, I had probably only had this person in my business for a couple of months and I obviously didn't know anything about the restaurant business when I started.
Very transparent about saying that and I had to learn as I went along it was the school of hard knocks, I put a lot of systems in place because I had you know a business school education and it really led to my success.
But I almost you know it could have been a bad thing for me to give equity in a fledgling business to someone that I didn't really need that wasn't a great relationship, that wasn't going to last. But I think this happens to restauranteurs all the time where they feel like they're dependent on a key person in their organization a Chef or maybe even it's a Brew Master like in your situation and bad.
For you it's really worked out well, would you give any advice to operators out there that are confronting this question?
Fred: Put a deal to get that if you have to exit or you have to change things, you've already got us a simpler solution, you know what I mean is when people end up in these relationships and then they don't get along and then it becomes a nightmare getting out of them and it's you know a marriage is very similar to a partnership if you take away the you know the having kids and all that fun stuff.
But you know at the end of the day, if you have the financial capability, I would say keep control going on and have it as spelled out as much as possible and a lot of times with key employees you can do stuff with phantom stock which is less controlling than actual stock. And I've used stock agreements almost like employment agreements that have been very successful.
I have a gentleman that just retired Joe Tynan in Kennebunk, he worked with me for almost 23years and he had--I wouldn’t say the exact percentage but it was substantial. And now, we have a retirement structure in which he's getting basically what he was getting when he was working almost and it's a true success story.
And we've had others that have failed and you go into binding arbitration and you get it resolved and you move on. So, you have to have something that's clear if you don't, you know people can be in top shape with your employer. To say nine out of ten restaurants fail and they don't always fail because it's not doing well. If you get if you get 2-3partners, it's going really well but they all think go in different directions, that can be a problem because you know you're affecting the day-to-day operations.
Anything you do, you need to think about how to do this without affecting day-to-day operations and then the employees don't get tangled up. And if it's a small company, and you have 3 people, very difficult to do this because everybody wants to be equal, everybody feels they gave as much.
And then it's a function of where does the cash comes from and who signed on the debt and all those types of decisions.
Roger: Let's quickly shift gears to the hospitality and inside of things. First of all I'm going to tell my listeners; if they are looking for an amazing getaway, The State of Maine is absolutely beautiful. You fly into Portland, an old Seaport called ‘The Old Port’ and then you jump on a ferry 20minutes off shore is Peaks Island and Fred owns an operation called ‘The Inn on Peaks Island’
And it's that classic New England, the salt air and the breezes and the beautiful architecture and the geraniums in the window boxes and all that kind of stuff. Beautiful views of Casco Bay and downtown Portland Maine. How did you get into The Inn on Peaks Island and is that leading you to other hotel operations Fred?
Fred: Well again, it was a failed situation, I made the mistake of bringing my wife up, there was the most conservative person always says, “Judy doesn't really love to do more deals, she'd rather we just stick with what we have” So, that we go here and spend the night was in March and she'll say, “Well, it's nice but we're not going there was too much to get out the island whatever”
So, of course I go out there, it's a beautiful night we have a great time on the boat ride home she says, “We need to buy this” So that's how we got into it. But yes, it's right off the coast of Portland 7room Inn at the time was failed because the way the kitchen was designed and the business was designed, it really didn't work as a business and we re-worked the whole relationship.
We got involved with Jim champion Productions who was a great promoter of weddings and we focused on the wedding business as really the primary business of the property. The rooms make some money but 7rooms are not enough to make any real money; really should be twenty or thirty or forty or one hundred or so.
But we did we've averaged about 40weddings a season for the last 6years and it's a lot of work. We had a General Manager, Fred Aman who also runs a place in Orlando, he has a great team. Jason Matthews is the event coordinator, sells all the events; he's going to get team under him and then it wasn't till Jason came on board and focused a clear picture on the weddings that the model really worked and that was about 7-8-9years ago.
It took about 3years to get it where it needed to be and now it's all working well.
Roger: That is a great learning as well; I know we did quite a few weddings in the off season at our place years and years ago. So, that's a great additional profit center. I'm a huge believer when you have a restaurant business to expand into multiple profit centers with that be catering, weddings whatnot.
I actually stayed at The Inn on Peaks many years ago with my wife, it's got a nautical theme, you did a beautiful renovation and it's just got such a unique amazing---Well New England feel to it. So, I'm glad we talked about that. Let's finish up Fred with a retail business. You also sell quite a bit a retail merchandise based on all your different brewing brands sea dog, shipyard whatnot.
You've got bricks and mortar stores but you also have a website: shipyard.com and you sell quite a bit a really great stuff on the website as well so that's a getting to be a bigger part of your business isn't it? Have you sort of vertically integrated now you own silk-screening places and all that too?
Fred: Yeah, basically the first marketing tool we had was a tap and the second one was a T-shirt and I saw the power of the T-shirt sales in Kennebunkport just because of the branding of Kennebunkport. I was actually in-- when I was putting the deal together we were on vacation in Margaret Island, Venezuela and this guy had a Kennebunkport shirt on and just dawned on me that these we had to have T-shirts to take advantage of this. So consequently at the time I was married to my first wife Margaret and she focused on the retail sales which is a key point.
You’ve got to have somebody focus on retail and that really was a big benefit to the business and I would say this, to that point about working with your spouse there's a lot of hazards in that. I presently work with my wife Julie and she's an amazing CPA and has a great business sense and does a great job and focusing on her part. But the key to business is making sure you can balance family and balance the business and keep it as separate as possible and focus that that's a whole another partnership that could be another hour discussion or longer.
But in reality, I've been lucky enough to work with a lot of family members and the key there is to you know leave as much of the family side of things outside of the business and try to focus on things that you can. But the whole retail business, somebody has to own it, work hard at it-- I have a woman in my Reno black at the Portland store, this girl Becky and in Kennebunkport and in fact whenever we open up a new location, we try to find somebody who can kind of own the retail because Inn of itself it can be huge. You can do a million dollars or $2million and you know you look at the Black Dog in the case yeah you get you know it becomes a business in its own. So, I think that's a very key thing don't try to chase it if you don't feel the vacation or the brand you know if it's just diner and there's no reason for someone to buy a shirt but whatever then and that can be a bad place to put a lot of money and effort too. But if you get a town that people want to walk away with a souvenir, leverage it!
Roger: Absolutely true! We had quite a bit of a retail business as well and that's another nugget information for operators and that was great advice Fred.
Well, actually what I'm going to say is one of my Montrose is, “Don't be a restaurant, be a brand” Think of your business as a brand, develop that brand and certainly Fred, you've done that with all of your different brands.
Is there anything we didn't hit today that you want to cover Fred? That anything I've missed?
Fred: I think you just really nailed it, if you can create a brand from your restaurant, you’ve become-- you know you've really done something and it doesn't have to be you going to do 100 locations or even a second location, I mean you know the one to mellow The Restaurant Inn Portland Maine, The Floating Restaurant.
I mean they create they be creative and you know. There's so many places that you could create a brand and they never did it and so many that they don't and they never get there and I just I really enjoyed talking to you Roger and hopefully I said some things that would help people with what they're trying to accomplish. We’re really assessible, my e-mail is [email protected] and if there's a spot that I can put some shipyard if you’re restaurant person and look in to do theme pubs and looking to do all kinds of stuff all over them all over the world.
So, don't hesitate to reach out and I'm sure you'll put them on ice this Saturday being on Facebook or you can go on whatever you can google me find out more about me than I know myself pretty much.
So, it's kind of scary last night Julie and I were going online and now in you Google yourself and some crazy stuff pops up, half is not true.
At the same time, it's pretty crazy the world we're living in today than when you and I started in the business.
Roger: Why don't you throw your Twitter handle Fred if you don't mind, I'd like to include that as well and maybe even how people can reach on Facebook?
Fred: I really don’t do Twitter Personally; I just do Facebook.
Roger: I mean I could include that in the show notes. It's been a great episode Fred, I certainly appreciate your time and sharing all your key information with the audience.
we covered a lot today and I wish you the best success in the future; you've got so many deals on the table that's so exciting. You're an inspiration to the industry so thanks for what you do and I'm going to have a shipyard. My favorite is still the export is that still your flagship?
Fred: Oh yeah, we just have gotten down a whole new repackaging and it's still the same beer and it's still going strong. So much competition today, it's crazy but at the end of the day, it's still a lot of people shares will love you and that
Roger: Chances are if you're a listener no matter where you are, you can find one of Fred's beer brands out there. So, go enjoy!
[End of Interview]