You’ve heard a lot of stories on the GBH Podcast from entrepreneurs who started up, learned some hard lessons, and then found their groove. And today is another great example of that with Jeff Gill of Tallgrass Brewing out of Manhattan, Kansas.
It’s my first time meeting Jeff. All I’ve seen of Tallgrass was when he hit the market fast with his 16oz cans, long before most others did, and then saw a modest pullback in the market. I’d always wondered what the story was with this brewery, and what their approach to markets like Chicago were all about. So when Jeff reached out, I was happy to take the time to dig in.
And there are some great lessons in here for all of us, about not spreading yourself too thin, about not looking at all opportunities the same way, and generally trying to contain your ambitions against a real, smart plan for controlled growth. Jeff is an engineer by trade, so you’d think that a guy like him wouldn’t be susceptible to the emotions of a dynamic market like craft beer — but this thing can be so exciting, it really gets to the best of us at times. But Jeff’s smart. And more importantly, he’s self-reflective. He looked at his mistakes, owned up to them, made a real plan to move ahead, and now he sticks to that methodical plan come hell or high water. It’s a great story of how ambition can be balanced by a healthy team, and partners that can serve as a gut check, especially in the face of wide-open opportunities that are hard to turn down.
And it sounds, and tastes, like he’s hitting his stride.