It’s fascinating to me the things that I take into consideration while putting together the brewery. So while I’m waiting for the last lease negotiations to finish up (which should be ANY DAY), I’m confronted with something I haven’t decided is an issue, though with all the rhetoric during this election year it might be: how much should I take “America” into consideration as I’m shopping for my brewhouse and cellar stainless?
Don’t forget my work background: for almost 10 years I worked for the American division of a Japanese car company. The American division was responsible for about 40% of the total home company sales. Even though I was working for a company not based in the US, I had a fantastic job that paid me well and allowed for me and my wife to support our family nicely. I never felt that I was working for anything but an American company, not to mention that about half the vehicles were made in the States using parts that were sourced both domestically and internationally. And for another 10 years I worked for the largest soup company in the world, that happened to be based in America. About 30% of total sales came from outside of the U.S. Again, I was paid well and had just as much pride in my work as I did my previous job. The food was manufactured in the US from ingredients sourced both domestically and internationally.
The conversation in my head regards the actual brewing equipment that I’m going to purchase. And the cost difference between the two. As you read the options, keep in mind that I truly believe that I am spoiled for choices. I’ve brewed on both systems. I’ve talked in depth with brewers who have been brewing on both systems for many, many batches. I believe that I have a handle on positives and negatives of both systems.
Here are the scenarios.
Company A reminds me of the car company I used to work for. Their stainless is sourced from all over the world, though primarily from China. They order their systems in bulk as a “shell” built to their specs. They’ll get fermenters from one vendor, the HLT from a second and the spare arms from a third. These shells are then shipped to the USA for final work. American workers finish the system, polishing the welds and adjusting the “shell” to the specific needs of the brewery.
Company B is crafting and building the kettles and fermenters from raw stainless. These workers are “handcrafting” the kettles to the specific needs of a brewery. They aren’t using cheaper stainless from China, but do use Stainless from the US. Company B isn’t working from shells and insure that each component is specifically designed to work and fit with each other. The cost for this craftsmanship is about a 15 percent premium and availability is almost twice as long. BUT the company isn’t based in the states, though it is based in North America. Yes, they are buying steel made in the US, but the men and women crafting that stainless aren’t.
Two other pieces of information. Both companies have fantastic reputations and have produced award-winning beers. And there aren’t any US based manufacturers within my price point equal to Company B.
It doesn’t keep me up at night, but every so often as I think about this election period the questions return. Is there a difference to my consumers? Will anyone care if I sourced the stainless from China and used US workers, versus US Stainless and out-of-country workers? For me it’s all just more proof as to how intertwined we are as a world and should move to a global currency.