Cider Corner Q&A: Chris Denkers, Coyote Hole Ciderworks

This is a part of a monthly series of Q&As with members of the cider community from across the U.S. Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from decision makers in the cider industry to help you get to know each other better and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Chris Denkers, Owner/Cidermaker, Coyote Hole Ciderworks — Mineral, Virginia
BREWER: How do you feel your job has had to adapt in the craft beverage market compared to a few years ago?

DENKERS: My job as an owner and cider maker is ever evolving, especially as we grow at our tasting room as well as our distribution. We have, truly, three businesses that we have to run: tasting room, production and distribution (we self distribute in our own state of Virginia). Needing to adapt within the tasting room is key. As other businesses pop up around yours, you need to continue to do things that are unique to your business than what other similar businesses are doing. As your business grows, adapting to roles and responsibilities is also key because with growth comes more responsibilities and the need for adding new employees. Making sure you hire the right individuals who have more experience in areas than you do is key. Let them do what they are experts in so you can focus on what you are good at.

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?

DENKERS: I have always done as much as possible myself, from actually constructing our building to managing every aspect of the business. Learning to let other people take over responsibilities has been a tough but very rewarding experience that I have learned is key to success. Letting our employees do the work that they love and have much more experience than I do, especially with sales and events, has brought great growth to the business that we did not expect.

BREWER: Can you touch on something your cidery has added lately that’s unique or making your business more successful (it could be equipment, technology or people)?

DENKERS: Something that we have been trying to do since we started is creating an experience and events that are currently not offered around our business. We have seen great success in offering different things for people to do that they normally don’t have the option to, like outdoor movies on our lawn; Psychics and Cider events; comedy nights and more. We realized quickly that we have to continue to evolve our events and experiences as other businesses see the success they are and start offering similar events.

BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the craft cider industry, what would it be?
DENKERS: Do what you do great. If you are really good at something, keep doing it as it will be more rewarding than you ever thought.

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