The T.H.I.R.S.T.Y. Values Morrison Sets for Second Chance Beer

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the US.
Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA Managers and others each weekend to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Virginia Morrison, Esq., CEO, Second Chance Beer — San Diego

BREWER: Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
MORRISON: Although I homebrewed between college and law school, I never would have dreamed of owning my own brewery. It was my husband and business partner, Marty Mendiola’s, dream. I helped to make it a reality, and now it’s our collective dream come true — even if it occasionally gives us nightmares, LOL! I love being a part of this industry and stay in it because of the people — hands down the most authentic, caring, brilliant, and diverse group I’ve worked with in all my careers (and this is the third).

BREWER: What have been some key drivers and/or strategies you have keyed on to help spur the growth of the brewery in these first seven years? Why do you think they have helped you expand and improve upon your business?
MORRISON: Focus on our team. It’s the first in our T.H.I.R.S.T.Y. values for a reason — see attached. I care very deeply about our employees and the culture we built and maintain at our brewery. And it makes a difference, because the great beer brewed by our team, service provided at our tasting rooms, and connections made by our sales team are key to our success. Another factor in our growth, which I wish I would have learned sooner, is the power of focus. We can’t be everything to everybody. But we know what we can do is make award-winning beers and use the proceeds to give pups a second chance through support of local dog rescues. It’s our north star and everything we do aligns with that purpose now.

BREWER: How has the definition of growth for your company evolved and how have you adjusted to be successful in that new definition?
MORRISON: I think like most breweries, we started off defining our success by barrels sold, revenue generated, and profits made per year. Those markers remain important and always will. However, with the forced slowdown of the pandemic, our team got to building the foundation and structure for future growth — standard operating procedures, clear lines of reporting authority, creating delegates throughout the organization and such. We also turned our attention to enhancing our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by formulating a unique, blind recruitment process to reduce unconscious bias in hiring. I have since copyrighted the content and licensed it to other breweries to help make craft beer more inclusive. Finally, we also took the time to rethink our brand. “Second Chance” can have so many laudable meanings, and even though it’s always pointed to our philanthropy, we got clear and specific. Now, we’re all about giving pups a second chance through support of local dog rescues. Since 2016, we’ve donated over $25,000 to dog rescues and gotten almost 100 pups to their furever homes through adoption events at our tasting rooms.

BREWER: What strategic opportunity do you feel is still “out there” for your brand and how are you working on capitalizing on it this year?
MORRISON: Since getting clarity on the future of our brand, we’ve gone all in with giving pups a second chance. It goes without saying our tasting rooms and brewery are pup-friendly, but we also have Beer-N-Bone specials, dog biscuits made from our spent grain, water bowls and drinking stations, and lots of pup-centric merchandise. We also now offer two year-round beers, Buddy Lager and New Day West-Coast IPA, that are 1% for Pups.

BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
MORRISON: That’s easy — greater inclusivity. Inclusion is not only a moral imperative, it is a business one. The brewery industry can only get better the more we welcome fans of all colors, shapes, sizes, genders, and preferences.

The T.H.I.R.S.T.Y. values list

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