Jefferson Beer Supply – A Unique Blend of Talent, Ingenuity, and Integrity.
When you think of the blending ingredients for craft beers, barley, wheat, and hops might be the first ingredients that come to mind. However, when you’re speaking of Jefferson Beer Supply in Jefferson, South Dakota, agency, ethos, equality, prosperity, pineapple upside down cake, Gryffindor, and a Challenger are more what owner Nicki Werner thinks are the recipe for success.
“One of the most important things we wanted to do with this company was bring prosperity to our town. We wanted to have the company be employee owned including with stock ownership. To have each employee be involved with trust in the voting rights, future of the business, how the business grows, the financial goals. Employee stock ownership in ethos,” stated Nicki.
One of the ways that is accomplished is through the employee beer director program.
“Each employee has total ownership and control over a specific brew each year. It’s a multifaceted approach. It helps them learn about the brewing process and gives them agency and ownership in the business itself,” said Nicki.
As an example, Nicki shared that one of the bartenders, Trevor, really wants to develop a pineapple upside down cake brew.
“That’s a fun flavor, and then he wants to use the proceeds the beer makes to donate to the Boys and Girls Club. Different employees go different ways with it. Especially in beer, there are so many different ideas. No one master genius holds all the power. We really try to make this an equal playing field for everyone involved,” remarked Nicki.
She went on to say that her intention with the beer has always been to drink beer and to build a community around it and with it.
“We make the culture that we want to be a part of and involved in. What do we want the business to do for our employees, town, community, and in a broader perspective for Siouxland?”
It is an interesting perspective from a business owner with mostly an arts background; however, she had worked at craft breweries in both Wisconsin and Colorado. The breweries were closely entwined with the arts scene in both locations, and in time, Nicki had more than 10 years of experience working in the breweries and being involved in the arts community. She and her partner wanted to be living closer to family, so they moved back to the Siouxland area.
“I was always interested in equity and issues of justice. We started planning this business in 2020. If that wasn’t the year to live according to your values, I don’t know what was. I’d been involved in start-ups before, and I knew how much you have to totally give your life over to it at least for a time. I was like if we’re going to do that, then I really want to do it in a way that matters to me.”
The business was started by Nicki, who has a master’s degree in sculpture; her partner, who has a graphic design degree; her mother-in-law, who is an accountant for the city of Jefferson; and their good buddy, Andy.
“We all have a lot of great skills that we bring into the business with the brewing experience,” commented Nicki.
Have you figured out where Gryffindor and a Challenger fit into the mix yet? Tune in and listen to the entire inspiring podcast of Starting Conversations with Stacie and Tony, Season 2, Episode 10, on your favorite platform. While you are there, don’t forget to subscribe to catch future episodes.
The Jefferson Brewing Company is located at 202 Main Street, in Jefferson, South Dakota.
By Amy Buster