Teamwork, Ball Says, Led Change at Neshaminy Creek

An event company, a music venue, and ‘a billion other things,’ is what Neshaminy Creek had become over the years. Starting off with a punk-rock attitude, the Philadelphia-area brewery just raised a pint to 10 years in 2022.

“Everything was (done) last minute, everything was a sprint and an emergency and a scramble,” recalls Jenna Ball, who had been brought into the company to be the CFO in June of 2019.

“(I) walked in the door not really knowing what I was getting into, I think,” she said with a grin. “There was a lot under the surface that maybe wasn’t apparent to everybody at the time. And as soon as we started looking through the numbers and at the books, we were like, ‘Wow, we are in a spot here.’

“We were, like, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy — both financially and culturally. There were a lot of deep issues that the brewery was grappling with.”

But the brewery dug in, and went through what Ball said was “a lot of pain.”

“(It was) a lot of hard work and stressful, sleepless nights, and really had to kind of rise from the ashes a bit,” she said. “It was really kind of like having to reinvent ourselves in a lot of ways, and build a new foundation, both financially and culturally here. And I think we’ve done so beautifully.”

Ball was a calming influence in the changes, co-founder Rob Jahn added that those changes came from the addition of others in management and beyond.

“Before, we were operating with a management team that was very single-person centric,” he admits.

“I think one of my favorite things about the new team that Jenna has helped build is her ability to direct people into the right path of their jobs and let them flourish in their jobs and let them complete their jobs, and have trust in them to do their jobs correctly.

“Working as a team, it means covering each other’s butts whenever something goes wrong too. So it’s more of a collaborative team effort. And we really learned how to work together and grow as a brewery, from production to management.”

​With a culture​ shift, Ball admitted there was some pain and feelings attached.

“People signed on for one thing, and it’s a shift, even if it’s what we feel is a very positive shift towards sustainability, and towards the type of leadership style that we believe in​,” she explained. “We definitely lost some people along the way that were like, ​‘​Hey, I signed up for a pirate ship. We’re not a pirate ship anymore.​‘​ We’re not us​-​against​-​the​-​world​, we’re a more inclusive brand now. ​So we definitely had some turnover in association with that.

With two former owners exiting​ the business ​Ball said it felt like they went through a divorce​.

“That’s how it feels​,​ the impact on everybody here that’s invested in this company and in this brand​,” she said. “One thing I’m really, really proud of is that the management team was that anchor that got us through​.

“And they’re all people that were here before I came. So they’re not like a new team that we brought on board. It was people already invested in this business that knew what it could and should be that helped build that out and make that come to fruition. So I’m so proud of those people for stepping up.​“

Ball said the reinvention ​is taking the company to what ​she said they felt like it should be all along​.

“There was always that glimmer, but maybe we weren’t executing on it that way,” she said. “People really stepped up and were able to​ do it​ in their own roles.​“​

Although the pandemic threw the company a curve ball while rebuilding the brand, Ball said it was the teamwork that carried them through.

“We’ve got an incredible management team, and that has really been the foundation to be able to turn things around,” she said.

“I’m wildly proud that we’ve been able to scrape back together here and be moving forward looking at growth year over year, which has been exciting. The stability has been really, really great in the last year or so, I would say.

“It’s been a wild ride for us the last couple of years.”

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