A Guaranteed Brew
Founded in 1994 by the Norgrove family, Bear Republic Brewing Company has become one of the largest independent craft breweries in Northern California, with operations centralized in Cloverdale.
The family-run brewery opened their first brewpub in Healdsburg, and recently opened another location in Rohnert Park. Now, they are focusing on increasing manufacturing and establishing a warehouse location in Cloverdale.
“Our production brewery in Cloverdale is designed to provide the product growth necessary to meet our sales needs,” said Tami Norgrove, Bear Republic Brewing Company’s chief financial officer. “The expansion also marks a larger investment in these communities.”
When the Norgrove’s began planning their brewery expansion in 2014, they hit a wall. Drought-stricken Cloverdale was unable to meet future demands on water with their current water system.
“We fronted nearly $500,000 in connections fees so the city could finance the construction of needed water wells,” said Norgrove. “We were able to put the community in a better position financially to move forward.”
Working with USDA Rural Development, the City of Cloverdale secured a loan under the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. Cloverdale was able to improve production capacity at the city’s well field by installing two new water supply wells, adding a new 750,000 gallon water storage tank, and a new treatment plant to handle the increased demand.
With the water issues solved, the Norgrove’s focused again on expanding Bear Republic Brewing Company’s shipping and receiving, and storage capacity.
“We ship through 20 different distributors here in California, through 31 distributors in 23 states and four distributors internationally,” she said. “This expansion adds additional trucking, and the location works for the community by alleviating the impact to local traffic.”
After recalling how USDA Rural Development stepped in to support the City of Cloverdale, the Norgrove’s decided to research how Rural Development could assist them.
Bear Republic Brewing Company secured a $2.4 million 25-year loan through First Community Bank with the backing of a USDA Rural Development Business and Industry Loan Guarantee to purchase their warehouse.
The purchase of the 36,000-square foot warehouse also added five full-time positions in Cloverdale, where more than 42 percent of the brewery’s workforce comes from.
“It is all about making good quality craft beer and still being an independent family business,” said Norgrove. “We really see our employees as family, and work closely with our communities to help everyone reach their goals.”
According to Norgrove, the beer industry is changing in California, bigger breweries are buying small breweries, making Bear Republic Brewing Company one of the last independent microbreweries left in California.
“This project has allowed us at Bear Republic Brewing Company to continue to make quality beer our way and not be beholden to the bigger breweries,” she said. “Without USDA’s support we may not have been able to continue to expand and meet our goals.”
For more information on USDA Rural Development’s Business and Industry loans go to www.rd.usda.gov/ca. Interested borrowers should inquire about the program with their lender. Applications are accepted from lenders through USDA local offices year round.
||Obligation Amount||2.4 million ||Date of Obligation||April 2017||Congressional District||Huffman (CA-2)||Senator's Last Names||Feinstein, Harris|