Sharad Chadha, president and CEO of Sprecher Brewing, joins BizTimes Media’s Arthur Thomas to talk about his journey since buying the company in early 2020. Chadha addresses how Sprecher has grown its presence nationally, telling the brand’s story outside southeastern Wisconsin, balancing his background in the corporate world with running a smaller company, dealing with supply chain and inflation issues and plans for future growth.
Chadha said the journey since he bought the company has been tough and challenging but also exciting and fun. Sprecher’s brand and its products, especially its root beer, may be well known in southeastern Wisconsin, but its national presence is just beginning to grow. Developing a national presence is tough in a competitive landscape that includes 180 to 200 brands tracked by third-party groups.
“We have to, as I tell my team, tell our story,” Chadha said. “Show it with data and numbers but also with taste and quality.”
Since taking over the company, Chadha said he has heard hundreds of stories from local customers who have fond memories of the Sprecher brand. The challenge is that the long-standing relationship doesn’t exist with customers at a national level.
“It gets difficult as you go further out because those people have not lived with the brand for 35, 40 years,” he said.
Sprecher has gained some traction in its national expansion with sales up 45-50% this year and the business having more than doubled in size.
Of course, growth comes with its challenges, whether it’s in sourcing materials and ingredients, putting more stress on equipment or dealing with a new customer base. One of the issues Chadha pointed to comes with inflationary pressures. While big national brands may be able to easily pass along cost increases, an independent, craft producer has less leverage, especially with national retailers.
Chadha himself has experience working with large corporations, having spent time at GE Healthcare and Samsung, among others, but those experiences don’t always directly translate to a smaller business.
“It’s a tightrope walk every day,” he said of balancing his experience with the culture of a smaller business.
While he’s found it more rewarding, Chadha said entrepreneurs need to understand that the challenges of running a business are going to be continuous.
“You have to be adaptable and resilient and be open to failure,” he said.