Brewing Success: How Passions for Craft Beer, Comradery and Community Led to a New Family Business
running-a-business | Read Time: 3 minutes
By WSFS Contributor | Published: September 2020
Since they first started dating, Kaitlin and Chris McCall had talked about owning their own business, and with a healthy amount of entrepreneurial spirit along with retail management, marketing and finance experience under their belts, they knew they had a foundation for success.
After deciding to combine their passion for hosting family and friends and their love for the craft beer scene, they dove headfirst into starting up their own craft brewery in Allentown, Pennsylvania in April 2019.
Despite taproom construction delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in late August 2020 the dream of owning their own business was realized when McCall Collective Brewing Co. opened its doors. But their impact on the local community had already been felt months before.
For Kaitlin, the CEO for McCall Collective, and Chris, the CFO, the Lehigh Valley has been home for most of their lives. And when the pandemic struck, they had the resources to rally fellow beer lovers to support the community. Their first commercially brewed beer, Collective Contributions, was made available for curbside pickup in May 2020 with all proceeds going to local charities.
“While we weren’t able to open our doors to the public yet, we wanted to help in any way we could,” said Kaitlin. “We didn’t have our equipment yet but our head brewer, Chris’ brother Matt, was ready to get started. The craft beer scene is a tight knit one, so we partnered with Hijinx Brewing in Allentown. Everyone came together to support the initiative and we raised $7,800 for three nonprofit organizations that are so important to people in the area.”
Meanwhile, the McCalls were working to secure U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) funding to ensure taproom construction continued as soon as COVID-19 restrictions were eased.
“Early on, I had attended meetings and classes at the Small Business Development Center and leaning on our work experience and education, we developed a business plan,” said Chris.
“The pandemic forced us to continually pivot on timelines and finances, but our relationship with WSFS Bank’s SBA team was a big help. They were with us every step of the way, always available to answer our questions and offer guidance. We spoke with them several times a week for quite a while to make sure everything was in order with what the bank and the SBA needed to secure funding. We’re practically best friends now.”
After a long summer with plenty of hard work, the taproom was finally ready to seat a limited number of guests and grand opening weekend tickets quickly sold out. But the McCalls felt right at home with their customers.
“My favorite thing about beer is that it brings people together,” said Chris. “Breweries have become a hangout spot for families, friends and co-workers throughout their communities.”
“It felt great to see everyone enjoying our beer and safely gathering,” said Kaitlin. “We are so proud to be a part of the local business community and look forward to making new memories here with our family, friends and customers.”
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