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12 People You Need to Know in 2012: Jeff Schrag

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After reading a New Yorker article about craft brewing in 2008, Jeff Schrag set out to create his newest venture, Mother’s Brewing Co., and just a few months after its opening, the company’s beers hit the shelves of area Wal-Mart stores and other retailers.

“Craft beer blends the concepts of American-style beers, mass production and wine. It’s a melding of those  worlds,” he says.

The idea came with significant risk, Schrag says, and he did his homework to make sure the idea was feasible.

From the start, Schrag wanted his brewery downtown, where his legal publication, The Daily Events, is located, and where he also owns properties through other ventures such as Squires Properties LLC.

“I did look at a few buildings in industrial parks. That was not terribly appealing to me,” says Schrag, who in May 2011 opened Mother’s Brewing Co. at 727 W. Walnut St., formerly a Butternut Bread factory.

“I really felt I was at a good intersection in my life where I was in a position to put up cash, could borrow money and had business acumen,” he says.

Through Ozark Mountain Brewery LLC, Schrag obtained a $1.5 million U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan from Liberty Bank to fund the downtown brewery.

The company’s year-round beers are Towhead, Lil’ Helper and Three Blind Mice, and Mother’s also has a growing repertoire of seasonal brews.

Already, Mother’s beers are carried by a host of retailers, including Mama Jean’s, Price Cutter, Harter House, Brown Derby and area Wal-Mart supercenters. In August, Mother’s beer found its way onto shelves at nine area Wal-Mart sites, and just three weeks later, company officials reported that roughly 700 cases were sold, generating more than $20,000 in sales. They’re also found on tap in a growing number of Ozarks bars and restaurants.

Though Mother’s does have a tasting room, Schrag has chosen not to retail directly to the public because he doesn’t want to compete with the customers who carry his beer.

“We want people to consume our product at somebody else’s establishment or purchase it from somebody else,” he says.

Since opening Mother’s, Schrag says he’s been able to avoid having his focus on beer hurt his other businesses.

“I’m very fortunate that most of my businesses are mature and that I have good people who have been along with me for a long time. So I can spend a disproportionate amount of time with the brewery,” he says.[[In-content Ad]]

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