We recently caught up with Jim Koch, founder and CEO of Sam Adams Beer. Jim spoke at the US Chamber & Latino Coalition’s Small Business Summit in D.C., and aside from his story of persistence, I knew I liked this guy when he busted out a beer and downed it during his speech.
As it turns out, Jim left for college believing that for the first time in 150 years he would be the first of the Koch’s to turn his back on beer. After college and graduate school Jim began a promising career in management consulting. Even though he followed that path for several years, he always kept an eye on the beer business.
In 1984, he started brewing an old family beer recipe in his kitchen. Before long he was packing samples in a suitcase and going from bar to bar, trying to get people to taste his lager.
Only one year later, the beer was re-introduced as Samuel Adams Boston Lager, at the re-creation of the first battle of the American Revolution on Patriot’s Day. Three months later, it was voted “Best Beer in America” at the Great American Beer Festival, in which 93 national and regional beers competed. The publicity that followed helped the Boston Beer Company’s sales grow to 7,393,000 liters (63,000 barrels) by 1989. The beer was first put on tap at Doyle’s Cafe in Jamaica Plain.
Today, the idea born in that kitchen has approximately 840 employees in its Boston, Cincinnati and Breinigsville, PA breweries combined. It is also the largest craft brewery in the U.S.A.
The lesson? If you’re going to follow your passion go all out. Think big. And when you get a NO, believe a yes is just around the corner.