Planning for Future After Rapid Growth

After rapid growth early in their development, Griffin Claw Brewing had to quickly look to its future. That meant a shift in packaging, opening a new facility, increasing the size of the brewhouse and tripling capacity, all in a short amount of time for the metro-Detroit brewery.

“We planned this expansion two years ago because we could see some of the writing on the wall,” said Kyle VanDeventer, the brewery’s Sales Director. “We’re still only in the state of Michigan and a majority of our sales are in the Metro Detroit area. We have big plans on expanding that halo this year and with big sales plans come big production plans as well. Thus the need for expansion.”

That means a new 33,000 square foot production facility, moving from a 17-barrel to a 50-barrel brewhouse, switching to mostly 16-ounce cans. This after what had been planned for a 3-4,000 barrels to start in the first year ended at 9,00 and grew to 18,000 in less than three years.

“[The plan has] evolved over the last year due to our increased demand locally,” VanDeventer said. “We also have bigger plans down the line. Expansion to other states, price restructures, product development….all things we didn’t have in mind … when we opened but now is a necessity.”

Having two facilities will help. Rochester Hills will be a trial brewery while Birmingham will pump out 50-barrels worth of mainstays like Norm’s Raggedy Ass IPA, Mr. Blue Sky, Gateway, and El Rojo.

VanDeventer said 98 percent of the product will be 16 ouncers along with two volume-based packages will be put out in 12-ounce 15 packs.

Griffin Claw also invested in a labeler for the canning line which will make the production schedule much easier, VanDeventer said.

“We were getting shrink wrapped cans which had to be a certain quantity and put us in a corner for quantity and now with new machinery and schedule we believe we can send out a better product at a better rate,” he said. “There’s a lot to love about cans….the vehicle (we believe) is better, the cost is way down, the ROI is great and there’s a lot of real estate on cans which makes it better for marketing. We determined real early that cans is the direction we wanted to go but this is the first year that we’ve dedicated ourselves to be a purely can brewery.

Griffin Claw signed on nearly from the start with the M1 network (nine Michigan-based Miller wholesalers).

“They have really catapulted us to who we are today and are the backbone to what we do,” VanDeventer said. “However, we are looking outside this great state to see what would be possible — but to do it right.

“I come from beer distribution so I’m quite picky on what I look for in a wholesaler. We’re a very off-premise based brand and that will be huge for us going forward, but I also want to make sure that we’re placed in the right accounts, with the right look and treated the right way. We look for attitude above all else — you can say the right things but at the end of the day, how do they perceive my brand and is it perceived in a different way then we at the brewery perceive it. That’s big for us.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *