Brewer Magazine Q&A: Sheila Martins, North Coast Brewing Company

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.

Sheila Martins, Vice President, North Coast Brewing Company  — Fort Bragg, California

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?
MARTINS: I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned is to try to maintain a “big picture” frame of reference when making decisions and to always get all the information available before reaching a conclusion. The other thing I’ve learned is to keep an open mind about updated data in order to adapt to changing circumstances in a nimble manner.
BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
MARTINS: I have been fortunate to have two mentors in my time at North Coast Brewing Company, Mark Ruedrich, our President Emeritus, and Doug Moody, our Senior Vice-President and National Director of Sales. Not only have they imparted their knowledge of the “nuts and bolts” of running a craft brewery, but they’ve also imparted their business ethic to make North Coast a positive force for the community. Their commitment to furthering musical (notably Jazz) education and marine mammal rescue and research are just two of the many areas in which they have left a mark. I am grateful to them both for all they have taught me over the many years we’ve worked together.
BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately (concepts, equipment or technology) that’s unique or making your business more successful?
MARTINS: The new piece of equipment we’re most excited about is a decanting centrifuge which will maximize our finished product and reduce waste. We’re hoping to get that online this fall.
BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how do you feel your brewery will grow?
MARTINS: We’re all aware of the challenges facing the craft beer industry today. New breweries are opening every day and it’s easy to get missed in the crowded field. What I think sets us apart is our commitment to quality, our sustainability and our innovation. Not many people realize this, but we were one of the first craft breweries to achieve B Corporation Certification and one of the first to barrel age our beers (notably Old Rasputin and Old Stock) in whiskey and brandy barrels for a whole new flavor profile. It’s that kind of creativity and vision that will set us apart going forward.
BREWER: What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?
MARTINS: Too many to count but it’s definitely an exciting time to be in the craft beer industry! One of the most intriguing innovations we are in the process of getting is a robot for our bottling line. This advancement will allow us to increase line speed while making the task less physically taxing on our staff. Although we’re adding this technological innovation, it won’t result in any loss of jobs to our current work force.
BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business as a whole, what would it be?
MARTINS: I think it’s always helpful for any craft brewery to remind themselves of why they got into the business in the first place. In our case, it was a love of good beer (and the absence of that in the US at the time) that spurred Mark Ruedrich and Tom Allen to found North Coast Brewing Company over 30 years ago. Their commitment to quality and being a force for good in the world was echoed by Doug Moody when he arrived on the scene, 23 years ago. Our strategy remains the same: make a product you can be proud of and do your part to make the world a better place.

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