The Pivot Point That Launched Troegs Growth Spike

Opening in 1996, both founding brothers — John and Chris Trogner — saw slow growth as Troegs Independent Brewing built its name on a core lineup of four beers through case sales in distribution. That’s quite a different formula for a brewery to start now. Yet, when the central Pennsylvania brewery saw the most explosive growth of its brand was just 10 years ago as it moved from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to a new production space in Hershey.

“Trying to build this business — a long-term sustainable business — which was a big goal of ours when we moved here, from a team standpoint was to develop those teams so we could run more efficiently,” Chris Trogner said during the brewery’s cover story interview in July for the September/October edition. “We have department heads: sales, marketing, production, and the retail is separate.

“We run that separately with our own management team as well. So that way they can do things the best they can.”

But even the move into a new facility with a large taproom had its challenges at the start.

“The biggest difference was we were not running the retail shop at the other brewery. But here we are,” Chris said. “We didn’t intend to do a retail shop and a tasting room right out of the gate. It was gonna be a slow build. We were like, let’s get the brewery here … just get back up and running. Make sure we’re seeing positive trends. And we left the space available for the tasting room.

“I guess it was our opening weekend. We were like, holy crap. We couldn’t believe how many people were knocking on the door. We gotta accelerate that plan pretty fast… like tomorrow.”

The staff quickly needed to be expanded to accommodate guests and the need for food was apparent as well.

“In Harrisburg, there was a small group of people that came in that were traveling around trying craft beer. And they were super in tune with what craft beer was,” Chris said. “We transitioned here, and you tapped into a whole different type of customer that was coming in.

“I remember looking down from the brew platform at a husband and wife, and dad’s drinking Troegenator (a Doppelbock). He’s three in and the kids are running around. I’m like, I can tell that’s not a great scene without food. All of a sudden you realize that you’re reaching this whole new group of people that we never saw before, but we weren’t catering to them. We didn’t set them up for a long-term, great experience. So we jumped in pretty quick.”

They quickly hired someone to make sandwiches for the brewery to get the kitchen aspect started.

“We hate giving up control to anyone on anything,” Chris said with a laugh. “So having another restaurant do sandwiches for us was killing us.”

Now, with a full chef team creating farm-to-table, Troegs has control over its food.

“We work with local farms to grow stuff for us,” Trogner said. “We make sure we source as much as we possibly can from people we know and do almost everything from scratch. Like that’s just how we roll with beer.

“We’re like, of course, we have to do that with food, and you can’t just do that overnight. So that was incredibly challenging.”

Photo courtesy Troegs

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