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Small Business Success Story: Brewing What They Love

Suzie Ford was a banker who had just been laid off; her husband Todd was an airline pilot who missed seeing his wife. They decided to change course and start a business together.

Since Todd liked to brew his own beer, and had learned a lot about craft brewing during his layovers in Portland, Oregon, a brewery seemed like a good option.

Suzie’s best friend is a CPA and she recommended they use the services of Guidant Financial to find funding.

“My friend had clients that had used Guidant’s services, so I got in touch and we decided to use their 401(k) rollover service for our initial funding. Everything was very easy—we were able to communicate by email and our outside counsel, Frank, answered all of our questions.”

The Fords opened the NoDa Brewing Company in the spring of 2011 and received a warm welcome in Charlotte. Now, their beer is served in Panther Stadium, at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and in numerous pubs around North Carolina.

“It’s art to us,” said Suzie. “We can’t paint, we can’t write, but we can brew.”

Learn more about NoDa Brewing Company at their official website. Read about them in the Charlotte Observer and WBTV.

No time for a quick video? Here’s the transcript:

Suzie Ford: Someone told us once that beer is social lubrication. Beer gets people talking. It’s just a great conversation piece. I’m Suzie Ford with NoDa Brewing Company.

Todd Ford: I’m Todd Ford, I’m co-owner of NoDa Brewing Company. Previously, I was an airline pilot who was getting maybe disgruntled with being away from home so much. My wife was in the banking industry and I think there were a lot of ups and downs at that time in the financial industry.

Suzie: We’ve been home brewers since 1995 and we had home parties and they got bigger and bigger and people started saying, “Oh, you should start a brewery.” Before we knew it we had contacted Guidant, had our plans down to be able to fund a brewery and we were underway.

Suzie: We’ve been home brewers since 1995 and we had home parties and they got bigger and bigger and people started saying, “Oh, you should start a brewery.” Before we knew it we had contacted Guidant, had our plans down to be able to fund a brewery and we were underway.

Suzie: It’s creative, it’s different for our brewers, it’s educational and it’s just overall fun.

Todd: We like the challenge of making a new beer every single week and now we’re almost 2 years into it and we’ve never duplicated a beer yet. Brewing is a very intensive business for utility usage for water, gas. So, we try to make ourselves as energy efficient as possible. We try to take the waste products that we generate here at the brewery (mainly the spent grain from the brewing process) and use that for good too. It’s given to local farmers in the area that feed that to their cows to their livestock.

Suzie: We also have a few neighbors that have chickens and they will bring buckets and we will fill their buckets up and their chickens eat the grains and absolutely love it.

Todd: A lot of times those same animals are sold in stockyards nearby and that product ends back up in the local farmer market, so it’s very possible that the chain, that circle of life, for the consumers remains very tight and stays here Charlotte.

Suzie: Guidant is a perfect vehicle for small business to get established. We would not have been able to start the brewery without them. They make it very easy, they send email reminders. They want to make sure we’re up-to-date on all the laws, all the changes. It’s nice to have that backup of someone in the recordkeeping department that really, I believe, cares.

Todd: So, this was an opportunity for us to spend a lot of time together. Plus, we get to build a business together and we get to craft it in our own way.

Suzie: We’ve nurtured this from day one and are watching it grow and have been able to spend more time together which has been wonderful.

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