Launching a new venture

Jeff Hamilton


Sprecher Brewing Co.

Sprecher Brewing Co. Inc. is in the midst of a transformation. Randy Sprecher, founder of the brewery, recently started a new brewing company named Chameleon Brewing, which makes American-style craft beers. Sprecher Brewing Co., which now does all of the brewing for Chameleon, is working to maintain its heritage and the customers who have supported the Milwaukee-based microbrewery for the last 25 years. The brewery also recently began hosting a Friday night fish fry. Jeff Hamilton, who was named president of Sprecher Brewing in March, shares his thoughts about how companies need to focus on their core products and services, even while they are expanding with new products or services.

“You need to have a clear vision of where you want the business to be in both the near and distant future, including established and expanded business. Avoid the trap of getting wrapped up in the excitement of the new venture and taking your eye off the ball on what got you there.

“A lot of time is spent thinking about and planning for the new venture, but weighing existing business as an integral part of the plan is also essential. Understand your existing resources and their utilization, both human and physical. Thoroughly evaluate attributes of resources. Weigh each attribute for contribution to existing business as well as potential contribution to new.
“Delineate roles and explain where people fit in to the organization, as well as what new roles they may be asked to take on and why. This helps avoid backroom chatter, gossip and speculation. Be open and honest with expansion plans, and especially with the needs for new positions and employees. This is particularly important if you perceive existing people may feel passed over or left behind.
“Once you have a plan and have talked with your staff, get things moving. Don’t delay, as time without action allows for minds to wander and start second-guessing and back-room quarterbacking. Stay on course and guide your plan through execution. Don’t be too quick to abandon or modify a well-thought-out plan. Know critical trends and measurements to success and modify plans when one of those indicators shows your original direction needs to be altered. Avoid emotional or knee-jerk reactions when a program is in its infancy.”

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