KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Matt and Rene Greff, founders of Arbor Brewing Company, will discuss how a passion for beer and adventure launched their entrepreneurial journey in microbrewing as part of the next Entrepreneurship Forum presentation at Western Michigan University.
The couple will speak at 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 5, in Room 2150 of Schneider Hall. The event is free and open to the public and begins with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (269) 387-6059 or at wmich.edu/business/e-rsvp.
Arbor Brewing Company
Pioneers of craft beer since 1995, Matt and Rene Greff decided to give up their corporate jobs when they were in their late 20s to start a brewpub soon after microbreweries were legalized in Michigan. They raised their startup capital through a network of friends, family and co-workers and became the first brewpub to open in Ann Arbor and the fifth to open in Michigan's fledgling microbrewery movement.
By 2001, the Greffs were ready to expand. As fate would have it, the building adjacent to their brewpub became available, and they were able to expand operations with the addition of a small banquet space and much-needed additional fermentation and serving tank capacity.
As the brewpub hummed along, the Greffs set their sights on opening a packaging brewery to produce and bottle Arbor Brewing Company's award-winning beers for statewide distribution. As longtime Ypsilanti residents, the Greffs wanted to help spearhead the economic renaissance in their hometown, so they chose an abandoned warehouse close to a residential neighborhood.
The Ypsilanti location, which includes a beer garden, quickly became a regional destination and a favorite local hangout. By 2010, it was bursting at the seams, so the Greffs embarked on an ambitious $1 million expansion and green brewery renovation project. In addition to the green renovations, the project doubled the amount of car parking, tripled the amount of bike parking, added 2,200 square feet, doubled the brewing capacity, and increased the bottling speed five-fold.
At about the same time as the Ypsilanti location was undergoing renovation, the Greffs received an offer they couldn't refuse—the chance to open an Arbor Brewing Company in Bangalore, India. Arbor Brewing Company India was the brainchild of Bangalore native and University of Michigan graduate Gaurav Sikka who had whiled away many a night at Arbor Brewing Company during his time in Ann Arbor.
After an exploratory trip to India to meet with Sikka and his partners, the Greffs signed onto a joint venture. After the brewpub law was finalized in Bangalore in 2011, the project began in earnest, and the Greffs spent several months in Bangalore helping their new partner open India's first American-style craft brewery.
Arbor Brewing Company boasts dozens of awards for both its beer and its commitment to sustainability and the local community, including being named Best Brewpub in the Midwest by Brewpub Magazine, Green Business of the Year by the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors, and Small Business Owner of the Year by the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce.
About the Entrepreneurship Forum
The Entrepreneurship Forum is a monthly series sponsored by Educational Community Credit Union and hosted by Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business to bring stories of entrepreneurial success to the greater Kalamazoo community. This series is devoted to entrepreneurs and unique stories of start-up success. For more information on the series, wmich.edu/business/entrepreneurship-forum.
For more information or to RSVP, contact Alyshia Norris at firstname.lastname@example.org. To suggest an entrepreneur who should be considered for the series, contact Stacey Markin at email@example.com.
For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.