There is the nifty tagline, “RESP3CT TRADITION,” printed across smartly designed cans, the contents of which are universally praised by aficionados who have sipped them and the 50-plus retailers and restaurateurs who peddle them. A group of investors from Lake Highlands recently provided enough capital to put makers 3 Nations Brewing Co. on the map.
No matter how good the inventory — and 3 Nations microbrew, by all accounts, is the top-tier product of extensive craft brewing expertise — one cannot sell aggressively or produce properly without startup money.
That’s where Lake Highlands’ John Royer, John Morrow, Brooks Purnell, Steve Stutsman and David Solomon come in. A few of them already co-own a hydroponic farm in Austin that grows lettuce sold in organic grocery stores. Royer likes to say that they “invest in Main Street, not Wall Street.”
The Lake Highlands guys comprise a majority among several new 3 Nations shareholders whose financing, a portion of which went to a marketing and design firm, made the slick packaging and standout online presence possible.
“Candidly, we got involved because this is a fun industry, and because we know the beer is great,” Royer says. “We are a bit north of the typical age of craft beer drinkers, but we’ve all really immersed ourselves in the culture.”
Gavin Secchi, whose parents own Ferrari’s Italian restaurant chain, understood when he founded 3 Nations that it takes more than a unique German American fusion ale with a well-rounded malt profile (which his signature German Pale Ale boasts) to make it in Texas’ flooded craft beer market.
He started out like any other aspiring brew master might. After graduating from Jesuit High School in North Dallas he began homebrewing and tinkering with recipes. He studied at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and eventually led big companies including Franconia Brewing and Rahr and Sons. But he was thirsty for more. Branding and marketing would make the difference, he knew.
If he wanted to launch his microbrewery company full throttle, he’d need investors.
The investment team and Secchi were fortunate to find one another, says Royer, the principal and most hands-on of the Lake Highlands stakeholders.
“Gavin has never run a business. I have never run a brewery. We are putting together the best of each of our experience to make something special out of Gavin’s idea.”
The corporate guys and the brewer took a few weeks to reach an agreement, but they eventually settled on a business strategy and began brewing. Cans hit store shelves in July.
Secchi has been working 60-80 hour weeks to make the most of the opportunity, Royer says. “He’s been knocking it dead.”
Secchi doesn’t mind the hours. “This is exactly what I wanted.” He adds that he is a little surprised, six weeks in, to see packages outselling draft. “This is another thing that’s different from other brewers. We found a way to do packaging right off the bat and it is working out.”
Royer says it is a thrill to see neighbors and friends enjoying cans of 3 Nations German Pale Ale or Belgium style American Wit.
It’s also fun, he notes, to be partnering with Purnell and Morrow on 3 Nations — the trio have been friends since childhood. They all graduated Lake Highlands High School in 1974. “We have a long history of doing business together and a very long personal friendship.”
As fun as it is, it’s a business and Royer expects that if they “follow the plan” and keep expenses low, they expect to “be financially vibrant within the first year.”
Learn more about 3 Nations and where to buy it at threenationsbrewing.com