Indiana’s craft brewing industry provides nearly 8,000 full-time Hoosier jobs and has over a $1 billion impact on the state’s economy. But like many other business sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic, it too has had to adapt to change. For some business owners that means offering curbside pickup. For others it means permanently closing their doors.
“You’ve had a lot of layoffs, a lot of furloughs. I think some folks have been doing pretty well, as far as just trying to manage this. And I don’t mean making money hand over fist,” said Rob Caputo, executive director of the Brewers of Indiana Guild. “People have had to make decisions, like 3 Floyds, pulling back on the front of the house in the restaurant. Once you start looking at the financials, what are the margins? Is this valuable to the business in the short term? And how many people are going to come out anyway? We don’t know.”
Caputo said the most important thing for Indiana’s craft breweries right now is to continually monitor safety regulations handed down by the state, and have the ability to quickly pivot their business model based on those regulations.
“I think there’s going to be this constant adjustment. Depending on what happens, do you stick with curbside pickup? Do you stick with home delivery? Do you pull back on those? Are you ready to pull the trigger if another spike happens with the pandemic?” said Caputo. “There are a bunch of things that are unknown right now, and I think everybody should have everything on the table all the time. There’s got to be an option in case something changes, you know?”
Caputo told Inside INdiana Business COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the Indiana Brewer’s Guild. The paid staff at the nonprofit trade association has been furloughed for the foreseeable future. So have their three signature events that draw in crowds of over 17,000 people statewide.
“We generate most of our funding from our events. Broad Ripple Beer Fest, Bloomington Craft Beer Festival, and Indiana Microbrewers Fest. Not being able to do big events has definitely impacted our budget. We have been going down a path of trying to figure out what is going to happen with staff.”
As a 501 C (6) trade association, the Indiana Brewer’s Guild was not eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. Without the ability to generate funding, Caputo says they don’t have the money to be able to pay for lobbying and other member services.
“The organization was founded by a board of directors and if it has to go back to being run by a board then it is certainly within our bylaws to do that. At the end of the day, a lot of important decisions are going to have to be made here in the next month, so we’ll see where they end up.”