Scientists generate interest, profits in sudsPublished: Monday, April 16, 2018 By: Molly M. Fleming Source: The Journal Record
There’s a lot of science behind Iron Monk’s beer.
Owners Jerod Millirons and Dave Monks met as science professors at Northern Oklahoma College. Monks had been home-brewing for about 20 years when he introduced Millirons to the practice.
“I was really interested in the science behind it,” Monks said. “You can take some grain, yeast, mix it with sugar, and (you’re) making something that’s drinkable.”
In 2015, the friends put together their two backgrounds to start the brewery. Millirons has an MBA, as well as a science background. They worked with Exchange Bank on getting a Small Business Administration loan.
Exchange Bank President Andrea Bendele said the partners had a well-developed business plan. She couldn’t disclose how much money was loaned.
“As a community bank, it’s our job to help small businesses,” she said. “This was a unique opportunity to help them. They did a lot of research.”
The bank has been approached by other breweries, but those others’ business plans weren’t as well developed, she said.
Millirons said the owners are also personally invested in the brewery. He said people often ask him how much skin they have in the game.
“We have all our skin in the game,” he said.
The brewery is profitable, though, he said. They reinvest in the business to help with their growth. They’ve quadrupled their production capabilities, with seven tanks now on the brewing floor. They could turn out 6,000 to 8,000 kegs at one time if needed. Millirons said they expect to reach that amount in a couple of years.
Part of that next round of growth will be fueled by the addition of a sales representative, who will start on May 1. About 8 percent of the growth has been organic, Monk said, with people telling their friends about the beers or talking about it on social media.
But they want to saturate the Oklahoma market before they move out of the state, which is why the full-time sales rep is needed. This new employee will be responsible for going around and getting shelf space for Iron Monk, but more importantly, getting the brewery on a restaurant tap.
“That’s limited real estate,” Monk said. “Everyone wants to be there.”
Millirons added, “If you don’t have someone talking to places all the time, you might get a tap, but you might not be able to keep one.”
But the Stillwater taproom, like other breweries, is the moneymaker. Its sales help raise the capital to continue to invest in more infrastructure. On the weekends, the taproom is filled with people from outside the city.
Visit Stillwater President and CEO Cristy Morrison said she didn’t know exactly how much tourism the brewery has attracted; but for her office, it gives them another attraction to sell.