Brewery owner talks about making your business relevant.
Name: John Martin
Business: Confluence Brewing Company
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
In 2012, John Martin left his job in construction management to follow a longtime passion: brewing beer. The result is Confluence Brewing Company, which he opened with co-founder Ken Broadhead and which has grown into a popular fixture in Des Moines. Here, Martin shares his advice on competing in a crowded market, and balancing work and family life.
How do you survive in the increasingly crowded craft beer market?
First, you must make a high-quality product and keep it consistent. Second, I think you have to continue to make yourself relevant. It is easy to get lost in the sea of new beers hitting the market. We do this by focusing on quality first and quantity second. We produce several limited release and seasonal beers each month, which keeps our fans excited. We try to keep the product fresh and the creativity level high.
What makes Iowa a good place to do business?
The people are great to work with. Iowa values its local businesses and does its best to support them. We truly appreciate this quality.
What about Iowa isn’t conducive to small businesses?
Although I love the population density of Iowa, it would be easier to sell more product in a more densely populated area. People say that the coasts accept new trends faster than the interior of the country. I think Iowans have a sense of loyalty to the old way of doing things, but they are also very open-minded about trying new, quality products. Luckily for Confluence, Iowa was still on the upswing of getting into craft beer when we opened. This has allowed us to be part of the growing craft beer industry in Iowa.
With seven kids, how do you balance family and work?
Great question! This is not easy, as the business is young and continuing to grow and change every day. My wife is a huge support and manages most of the kids’ activities. She is the glue that keeps our family together. I do my best to be home every evening so that my kids don’t forget who I am. I would say it is a daily balancing act, as most people know. I will continue to try to keep the balance.
What advice would you give to other small business owners?
Have a vision and be passionate about what you are doing. Passion about your product is contagious. Make sure to share your vision often to your employees and those close to the business. Support your community. Your support will be reciprocated many times over by your customers.