Once upon a time, giant breweries controlled the North American beer market. A “small brewery” meant Uncle Melvin’s garage with its assortment of exploding beers. Today, the giant’s share of the market is declining, while smaller breweries are thriving.
Into this David versus Goliath battle walked a Canadian lawyer named Eli Gershkovitch. A quiet man, he is, above all, a planner. As casual and low-key as Eli Gershkovitch is, he is a man who knows who he is, and knows where he is going.
Eli Gershkovitch has a philosophy, a guiding principle, “you grow to meet demand, or demand will shrink to meet you”. Following this philosophy has allowed this most nonconformist of businessmen to turn a defunct brewery of into a regional beer empire.
After law school, Eli decided he needed a change of pace. He enrolled in a French university with the full intention of skiing the French Alps each weekend.
During a trip to Heidelburg, Germany he saw his first microbrewery. He describes it as being big enough to be impressive but not big enough to be intimidating.
The seed, planted in Heidelburg, took root when he found the Steamworks building. Constructed in the 1890s, the Steamworks building of Gastown, Canada housed a local brewery. By the 1990s, the Steamworks Brewery Building, like the famous Jax Brewery of New Orleans, had been repurposed into retail shops. There was a store called Quarter Deck selling boating supplies in the rear, and a Ralph Lauren’s clothing store in the front. When Eli Gershkovitch decided to turn the building back into a brewery, people thought he was naïve.
But it was a new day in Canada. Instead of a few giants, there were startups, with dozens of new breweries starting each year, and competing for market share.
Eli Gershkovitch works hard to make Steamworks a fundamental part of life in Vancouver (BeerMe). He stays competitive through innovation, offering a seemingly endless supply of high-quality beer at low prices.
Continuous quality improvement is not just some business school term for Eli Gershkovitch, it’s part of his soul.
More about Eli Gershkovitch on LinkedIn