Three Reasons Why Odell Brewing Targeted Iowa

Researching and marking off its personal checklist to make sure it connects with the territories where it sells its beer, Odell Brewing waited two years before expanding distribution into its 12th state — finally adding Iowa this April.

A full-state launch took place at the beginning of the month and sales have been good said Odell Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Eric Smith.

After buying a canning line last year, Smith said the company had to increase volume to help pay for the new investment.

How Iowa got moved to the top of the list and chosen was because it fit into what Odell wants out of a territory:

Synergy with accounts —  Smith noted that strong sales from Hy-Vee stores in other states within its distribution footprint helped Iowa to the top of the list. The headquarters for Hy-Vee is located in West Des Moines, Iowa.

“It’s one of our best accounts in Kansas City, Nebraska, South Dakota and the markets around them,” Smith said “We can enter their home market and there was similarities and synergies with other markets we are in, so that’s why Iowa looked promising to us.”

Familiar distribution partner — Already teamed up with Johnson Brothers for distribution in Nebraska, Odell will stick with the familiar partner for Iowa distribution.

“Odell Brewing has been one of the most requested and anticipated breweries from our social media fans and followers and we are ecstatic about bringing their award winning beers into Iowa,” said Lyle Stutzman, President of Johnson Brothers of Iowa, in a prepared statement. “As a family owned company, Johnson Brothers of Iowa appreciates doing business with a family and employee owned company like Odell Brewing.”

Smith added that working with Johnson came after talking with other distributors in the state.

“It helps us with logistics and cooperage,” he noted.

Favorable laws — Until 2010, Iowa did not allow beers over six percent ABV, limiting its chances to gain breweries that wanted to expand into its markets. That change helped lead the way to more distribution, said Smith.

“Keeping an eye on the laws in each state is what we look at,” he said. “A lot of time, having discussions with distributors helps. They are the ones that send us the information and a couple of distributors in Iowa had reached out a couple of years ago.”

The laws in Utah is what is hampering Odell’s push into that market, Smith said. Odell has had Utah near the top of its list of “wants” for five to 10 years, so the brewery will continue to monitor the state laws before making a decision.

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Smith said that Odell is in no rush to add more territories, but the brewery does keep a short list around.

Montana, Nevada, and Illinois were mentioned as possible future Odell additions, but Smith said the brewery is just “taking notes, making a folder and learning and doing our fact finding” with what chains are in the state, what are the top tap accounts and looking at shipment data to see if the company could thrive.

The expansion into Iowa did means job growth for the brewery, adding a sales person in Des Moines. Overall, the sales team has grown with new team members in Texas and St. Louis as well.


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