The Successful Ways Weldwerks Kept Employees On Board

While so many breweries are having to cut hours, make layoffs, furlough employees, limit guests, and find ways to get creative with selling beer, Weldwerks has a business model that allowed it to pivot when the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the US.

Because the brewery is based in Greeley, Colorado and doesn’t get as much of the Denver traffic — especially now — Colin Jones, co-founder and CEO of Weldwerks, said that getting people to come by the taproom has always been a bit of a struggle. So the brewery has always had to somewhat rely on its self-distribution to get beer in hands especially while the taproom was closed.

“All the way back to me and Jake [Goodman, director of marketing] hauling kegs around town —  just the two of us — and building it into the team that it is now that delivers from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs and everywhere in between, we’ve always had to struggle to stay relevant and stay in front of customers and through the years to just build up that taproom cred,” Jones said. “That distribution footprint really led us to having really good visibility in times like this.”

Not only visibility, but the production experience Weldwerks has came in handy when they had to close the taproom. No employees were laid off or furloughed or even had their hours cut. Instead front-of-house staff were repurposed until the taproom was able to open again. When COVID hit, everything got pushed into packaging and distribution.

“We were able to keep that volume going and that required us to take those idle hands in the taproom and push them into production and push them into sales and other areas,” Jones said. Now that the taproom has re-opened (only outside, and with table service instead of bar service), Weldwerks is even hiring to restaff front-of-house.

“We put down astroturf just to get a little bit of that cozy feeling within this outdoor setting but that table service and talking about the beers and beer education, we still want those opportunities to exist and so we really did staff up for this reopening,” Jones said.

Weldwerks was strategic in opening only the outside, because patrons were so used to the big open taproom that it didn’t feel right to re-open the inside when there would be so many restrictions. Right now, the full patio is open and seating is extended out into the parking lot with a couple of 20’x40’ tents.

“It’s a place that’s meant for community and meant for people to be sharing a beer together and since we’re not really able to do that inside we shifted everything outside,” Goodman said. In nice weather, Goodman estimates they’re probably hitting about 50% of what a normal Saturday pre-COVID would look like.

Over time, Weldwerks has experimented with different formats for beer releases, so they already knew what worked when it became a thing of the past to have a beer release party in the taproom.

“[It was] not only just to experiment to see what works best for us, but also to accommodate different types of craft fans. Some folks love standing in lines, some folks don’t. Some folks love a larger pickup window, some folks just want an opening weekend,” Goodman said. So customers are already familiar with release formats such as Eventbrite, in which they can purchase new releases ahead of time.

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