Case Studies

Roy's new venture brews up a storm

Roy Herd launched The Blunt Chisel Brewery earlier this year, producing small batches of craft beer in an old wood working studio in Blairadam. Here, Roy shares with us the story behind their business.

20th August 2018

Q. How and why did you start in business?

I was working long hours and spent a lot of time away on tour with my work as a Theatre Technician and due to this my wife and I were looking for ways to ensure we had a better work/life balance. While we were away for New Year to Whitby in 2017, we visited the Whitby Microbrewery. I was already interested in home brewing and after asking how they got started I decided to turn my beer into a business.

Q. How did you get to where you are today?

I have always had a strong interest in food and drink and when a work colleague told me two years ago about brewing his own beer I decided to give it a go. Once I launched The Blunt Chisel Brewery properly I knew I had to move my operation out of the kitchen. The old wood workshop nearby was empty so I made that my new base. It needed a lot of work but it had benefits for a brewery such as concrete floors, lots of space, thick walls and the water comes from a spring. I’ve funded everything myself so I’ve juggled my theatre work with the brewing to make sure I can confidently invest in new equipment. Now, we’re selling around 600 bottles of our beer a month at local farmers markets.

Q. Who has helped you along the way?

I had never run my own business before so it was quite a challenge to get the brewery moving. Business Gateway was a great support and my adviser helped me in a number of areas including business planning, digital marketing, and location of premises. I also attended a number of Business Gateway’s start-up workshops which gave me a good grounding in key business skills. Also friends and family, mostly for putting up with my endless dilemmas with yeast.

Q. What was your biggest mistake?

Rushing. I tried to set too many deadlines and when things went wrong I found myself under a lot of pressure to pull things back in order.

Q. What is your greatest achievement to date?

Running out of beer at our first market. We had to drive back to our storeroom to stock up. Sales astonished us and were much higher than predicted.

Q. What do you hope to achieve in the future?

My immediate goals are for our beers to be represented at more markets and to make the brewery my main employment. I’d love to take part in a beer festival too.

Q. Do you want to recruit in the future?

It may well be something I need to do in the future.

Q. What is the hardest thing about running your own business?

Multi-tasking roles. In any one day I might be brewing, researching products, repairing equipment, implementing our marketing plan then doing my books.

Q. Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?

I have always been uneasy about the word entrepreneur however, for me and many others it creates a different way of life for yourself, allows you to gain, control of your work patterns and location and make a difference to people and the planet. With that in mind, don’t let jargon or fancy titles put you off, everyone has something to offer the world so find what it is and use it to pay the bills. Also, Business Gateway offer fantastic free support to allow you to do this in the best way, so make sure you seek their help.

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