Learning From Previous Market Expansions

​It’s been a while since Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers has expanded its territory reach. Sam Hendler, the Framingham, Massachusetts co-owner said that while expansion situation is pretty unique, there definitely has been a gap and a ton of changes in the brewery’s internal structure and processes since the last time it did a market expansion.

“I think we are immensely better prepared to take on the challenges of an expanded territory and team now than we were three years ago,” he said as the brewery announced that it has added New Jersey as of April 1.

Over the past ​six​ months ​Jack’s dipped ​its toes into the market with ​its Springdale brand​ of beers​.

​”​We did a couple pulses into the market to get a feel for the key accounts that would make our brand tick for years to come​,” Hendler said​. ​”​It helped us build some key relationships so now that we are launching in full, we know exactly where to go to get Jack’s Abby in front of consumers.​”​

There are a bunch of different factors that go into choosing a new market ​and the​ process​ Jack’s Abby had for choosing New Jersey​.

​It ​made sense geographically​ since the brewery was already sending product to New York City and the surrounding suburbs as well as Eastern Pennsylvania.

​”​That left New Jersey sandwiched in between, as a logical extension​,” Hendler said​.

​While geography is important, there was a bigger and more important case to be made for expanding to New Jersey.

​”​We think it is a market where the Jack’s Abby brand family makes a lot of sense​,” he said​​. “When we spent time in the marketplace there are a lot of awesome local brewers, but not a ton focusing on ​L​agers. We think this unique focus on a sometimes overlooked segment of craft beer will make Jack’s Abby a really great option for craft beer lovers in New Jersey.​”​

Having worked with the distributor, Remarkable Liquids, in NYC also helped find a wholesale partner that could service New Jersey as well. The relationship with Remarkable runs deep​, Hendler said.

“They were the second wholesaler we ever worked with and are our second largest wholesaler to this day​,” he said​. ​”​We always want to be working with distributors who share a common vision for our brand with us, and Remarkable has been a key partner in shaping that vision for the last six years.

​”​When they talked to us about their plans to expand their operation into New Jersey we knew that when the time was right, they would be the perfect partner to continue to build our brand with.​”​

​Jack’s Abby did bring on a new member to the sales team to live in work in the new market.

“Bringing in someone new is always an interesting challenge,” Hendler said. “We have learned to be much more selective in terms of not just fit on paper/resume, but really a fit into our culture and mindset.”

That meant not just getting a new hire into the brewery for training — which is critical — but also he had them get as much time as possible on the road with the current sales team.

“We have a pretty eclectic crew selling beer for Jack’s Abby,” Hendler said. “Fitting into it is important, but just as important is helping each person find their way of doing things.

“It can be a tricky balance of integrating people in to our system, while encouraging them to be themselves and find their own way.”

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