We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian England and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
I have always been a perfectionist. Ever since I was a little kid if I didn’t do a task perfectly I would get so upset. As I grew up I realized that many times you can never achieve perfection, but the pursuit of perfection is what is important. In this pursuit of perfection I have become a life long learner and am constantly seeking knowledge. If I run across a new problem, I will diligently read, reach out to other professionals in and out of my field until I feel comfortable in tackling this new problem.
I am an early riser. I find that I am much more productive in the early mornings, whether it be working out, tackling emails or the problems that are causing me stress. One of the best peices of advice that I was given early on in my career was at the end of the day write down the top 3 things that you wanted to accomplish the next day. When you get up the next day knock out these 3 things right away. The sense of accomplishment that you feel is outstanding and it allows your perspective to increase and focus on bigger picture the rest of the day.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
After a successful start in Socorro, NM, Eddyline Restaurant and Brewery was opened in 2009. I moved to Buena Vista, CO to help open Eddyline and was given an opportunity for ownership after 5 years. During this 5 year tenure the company expanded from its original location to open a production brewery and begin canning. We saw moderate success as we grew both the restaurant business and the brewery business from 300 bbls to over 3000 bbls.
2014 was the most challenging time of my career. For the first 14 years of my career I was mainly responsible for operations of the company and helping build systems, I had made the decision to purchase our restaurant location outright from the founders. I honestly had no idea if I would be a good owner or not. I purchased the company on July 3rd – the busiest weekend of the year. We shut the company down for a day to celebrate, fired all the employees and rehired them the next day.
Over the course of the next 5 months, I dug in and worked on every aspect of the business. It was a lot, but I felt the only way the I could truly understand where I needed to focus my energies was to be hands on. After a few months I hired two managers and began delegating tasks. It is very easy to an owner/operator, but it is much more rewarding to be an owner delegating tasks and focusing on building the business. One of the most powerful books that I read at the very beginning of my journey is the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. I give this book out to every manager or anyone that is looking to start their own business.
My purchase of the restaurant helped fuel a major expansion of the brewery and we moved from a small 10 bbl system to a brand new 30 bbl production facility. At the same time the owners had been working on immigration to New Zealand and began their journey at the end of 2014.
After my successful – all be it physically exhausting – ownership start at the restaurant, it was decided that I would be appointed to CEO of Eddyline Brewery. The timing for me was right as I had successfully transitioned from owner/operator to hiring managers at the restaurant.
I found myself in a new position that I had never been trained for. As CEO I felt a bit overwhelmed. There was massive pressure to increase the production of the brand new facility from 3K bbls to over 7K bbls to become profitable. Furthermore I felt as CEO I needed to really focus on company culture and building a brand that I could be proud of.
I spent those first months reading as many books as I could on the subject. I really focused on creating the company culture, although the mission, vision and values are one page and very simple – they took months to write. One of the most powerful documents I have every written. Whenever we are faced with a new challenge I go back to this document and allow them to guide us to decisions.
Over the next few years we worked diligently and were able to increase sales to over 15K bbls, create the company culture and really build a brand that we were proud of. We are distributed throughout the state of Colorado and we are one of the only breweries to package in a 16 oz 6 pack format. We always wanted to be a value brand and be approachable to any beer drinker.
Obviously the pandemic has shaken many companies to their cores. Although I feel that we have come out of the pandemic much stronger than we started, we did not come out unscathed. We closed our taproom location for nearly a year and have been struggling to reopen.
At the onset of the pandemic things were changing very quickly, I feel that one of major reasons were came out the other end was our ability to adapt and change moment to moment. We changed our entire service model over night – changed our bar area into a merchandise and take-out liquor store. Many of these changes were necessary due to the restrictions we were put under; however through this we have found new service models that are significantly more efficient and provide better customer service.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Buena Vista (and Chaffee County) is an outdoor enthusiast dream. First we would have to start off with an amazing breakfast and just enjoy the incredible views of the Collegiate Peaks, it’s quite rewarding, relaxing and spiritually enlightening to absorb the incredible views this valley has to offer.
First day we would head out onto the Arkansas River and do a wild rafting ride through Browns Canyon National Monument. It is a must for this valley, this stretch of river is one most popular in the country and is so fun. We would end the trip at River Runners Bar and Grill – chill out and enjoy the watching boats come by while drink a Rum Runner.
Second day would be a great day to hit the local mountain bike trails. Depending on the mood we could hit up a quick 10 mile ride on the trails right outside of town – or we could do an epic 30 mile ride on the Monarch Crest Trails. Followed up with a beer at the local bike shop.
After the hard push on the mountain bike – either of the hot springs in town would be great for the sore muscles. Mt Princeton and Cotton Wood Hot Springs both offer a great way to relax and recharge.
The last day we could take a nice relaxing hike to one of the lakes and enjoy a nice picnic lunch. This evening we would hit up cocktails at the new Cellar on RailRoad – the new wine bar, followed by some whiskey at DeerHammer Distillery and dinner at of course Eddyline Restaurant in Southmain.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost my wife and family deserve a huge shoutout. Over the last 20 years they have been there by my side through the ups and downs. My wife swore she would never come back into the business, but during the pandemic and the uncertainty at the beginning she was willing to jump right back in. She has now become a vital part of our restaurant operation.
The biggest mentor in my life is Mic Heynekamp. He was the original founder of Socorro Springs Brewing Company and his wife Molley hired me when I was 20. I have worked side by side with them and they gave me the foundation to which I was able to continue to build the company.
Of course who doesn’t give recognition to their mother. My dad passed away in my early teens and my mom was there through my formidable years. I still talk to her everyday!