Can you say that you found your dream job? Many can’t, but Adam Benner and Walt Keys of Land-Grant Brewery can, and they do! With financing provided by Heartland Bank, they bought the building, expanded the brewery and they’re living the dream just seven years after these Ohio State college buddies brewed up their idea in a tiny carriage-house apartment.
Land-Grant’s path to progress started in a very entrepreneurial way – two college friends kicking around ideas where they could be their own bosses, engage in a career that was gratifying and profitable enough to support their families. With Walt providing the creative direction, and Adam adding the operational background, the collaboration would soon lead to a move back to Columbus, a city where they saw potential during college, and the opening of a brewery/taproom in Franklinton.
After a successful Kickstarter Campaign in 2012 to alleviate their doubts and confirm their viability, they took on a third interested party, Quintin Jessee, as he was an experienced homebrewer. With several years of nine-to-five under their belts, the trio had the background and experience to expand on their Kickstarter, but progress was slow. They spent nearly a year and a half searching for a space to rent while not really brewing in any large quantity. After an unfortunate setback when a lease agreement went south, Adam describes randomly finding their coveted urban location. “There’s a lot of energy down here,” admitted Adam. By the fall of 2014, they were opening their doors to customers in a renovated elevator factory at 424 West Town Street in downtown Columbus.
Land-Grant now had a home, and the name was fitting as Adam and Walt’s alma mater was founded based on the Land Grant College (Morrill) Act of 1862 and was merely minutes from their ultimate resting spot. OSU was not their only draw to the area – apartments, retail, the Idea Foundry, the Roy G. Biv gallery, the Gravity project and even the recent opening of a competitor, BrewDog, all add to the attraction of the up-and-coming area called Franklinton. They are now totally vested in the area as they recently purchased the building they previously rented and also expanded by adding 8 new fermenters to the existing 10 in their production portion of the facility.
The building ownership and additions were possible with the help of Heartland Bank. Adam and Walt learned about Heartland through an acquaintance, Michael Amerine. Mike was part of a DJ group working the Independence Day Festival, and the Festival was borrowing empty warehouse space from Land-Grant for a dance space. The three started a conversation to learn that Mike’s day job was with Heartland, and his territory as a lender conveniently covered the downtown area. Not only is Heartland their lending partner, all of their accounts have Come on over to Heartland! ®
Heartland was proud to partner with Land-Grant and support their financial success. On the other hand, Adam additionally shared his words of wisdom on their brewing success and fortunate timing as they entered the craft brewery market – take the conservative approach and never chase growth, buy local and stay close to the source (fresher beer is better beer), and financial position should not be dependent on expanding your footprint.
As they approach their 5th anniversary, Land-Grant values their relationship with Heartland and understands that this relationship can be a foundation for their future. If you are looking for this type of financial partner, Heartland Bank invites you to stay local and try a fresh approach. Visit any one of our 16 branch locations to get started on that dream and make it a reality!