Brewer Magazine Q&A: Cat Costlow, Mother Earth Brew Co.

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the U.S.
Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers​, Sales Directors, QCQA Managers​ and others each weekend to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Cat Costlow, Mother Earth Brew Co., Director of Sales​ — Nampa, Idaho​

​BREWER: ​How do you feel your job has had to adapt in the beer market compared to a few years ago?
​COSTLOW: ​The simple answer is successful sales strategies. The craft beer landscape is ever-changing, and with that our sales strategy must evolve. Sales opportunities that “fall from the sky” are much less frequent. There are more “rotational” accounts than ever before. Sampling and building relationships used to get the sale more often than not. In the present, we must have a much more targeted sales approach, routinely utilize data in our pitches and schedule a larger number of follow-up visits to each account or chain in order to get the sale and retain the placement.

 

​BREWER: ​Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
COSTLOW: One of my favorite things about the craft beer industry is the general willingness for industry people to take the time to assist others within the craft beer community. I have been extremely lucky in that I have been consistently surrounded by both passionate and experienced industry folks who continue to be mentors and a support system for me professionally, and often personally as well. If I start naming names, there are too many and I would go on like an awards show. So I will simply say “a sincere and heartfelt thank you goes out to every individual who has helped me along the way!”​ ​One basic yet important lesson gained from my mentors ​and​ the beer community is simply to stay humble because there is always more to learn.

​BREWER: ​Can you share a success story that you are proud of in your job or maybe a story of how you learned from a situation that has altered your thoughts on how you do your job now?
COSTLOW: While one specific experience is not coming to mind, I will share that my employment history has assisted me in gaining understanding in multiple industry perspectives.​ ​I worked in the restaurants for the better part of 10 years, then over to beer distribution where I spent over 11 years. Currently I am employed at a brewery and we work with an array of distributors on a daily basis. This experience in all ​three​ tiers of the system has helped me tailor communication to my specific audience, and I’d at least like to think this has opened doors that may not have otherwise opened.
​BREWER: ​Can you touch on something your brewery has added lately that’s unique or making your business more successful (it could be equipment, technology or people)?
COSTLOW: Instant recognition rewards for individual team members. This program was created to immediately recognize “above and beyond” performance of an individual team member with both an actual reward and an announcement to the management team that leads to even more kudos for that individual. The positivity is infectious!

 

​BREWER: ​If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
COSTLOW: Continue to challenge ourselves to define business success as more than volume growth and profit and be (or continue to be, as many in the industry already are) leaders in responsible business practices of all types. With this comes things such as respect for and appreciation of the individuals on the team and their constant contributions to success, serving the community in which we live and work and making decisions that positively affect the environment and our collective future on the planet.

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