North Water Brewing founder Don Schjeldahl moves to Kent to attend grad school at KSU to study industrial location theory.
The Austin Company
Don takes a job with Cleveland-based The Austin Company, international engineering, and construction firm. Don joins the location selection consulting practice.
While in San Francisco for business Don goes to Gordon Biersch for dinner and asks for a Budweiser. “We only serve our own beer” he was told. Don said, “Oh. What kind of beer?”
The craft beer lightbulb was lit. Don seeks craft beers at every opportunity, visiting hundreds of breweries and beer pubs across North America and Europe in large cities and small.
Lessons learned from locating corporate facilities; towns and cities that embrace the craft beer culture attract creative people, a hot commodity for corporate executives looking for that right location.
Don joins Sierra Nevada Brewing after helping them select Mills River, North Carolina for a new brewery. Don aids Sierra Nevada with site development, community engagement, and environmental sustainability as the project moves towards a 2014 opening.
Back To The Roots
Don returns to Kent to run a private consulting practice that includes advising communities on economic development strategy. A consistent message to community leaders, “You need a microbrewery if you wish to achieve economic, social, and environmental sustainability.”
Clients respond enthusiastically to this consulting advice and ask Don to lead efforts to start a brewery. Reluctance turns to excitement. “How hard could it be?”
The Perfect Spot
Turns out it was hard, who would have thought? Don and the crew considered five different locations before selecting the auto collision repair garage at 101 E Crain. The location checked all the boxes; an old under-utilized industrial structure begging for rebirth, on the hike and bike trail, a stone’s throw from the Cuyahoga River, in a neighborhood showing signs of revitalization, and part of a resurging Mill District commercial street.
A Pandemic Opening
North Water Brewing Co. opened the rave reviews on November 25th Thanksgiving Eve at the peak of the pandemic. The key to success? Assembling a core team committed to the North Water Brewing mission and vision. The core team included Ryan Ailes from Ailes Millwork, Bob Mayfield – local entrepreneur, architect Rick Hawksley, the good folks at Hometown Bank, Scott Lilly of Lilly Landscaping, Nate Mucha from Each & Every, and over 40 individuals who had faith in the project.
We are solidly focused on executing our plan. Great beer, and lots of exciting beers almost every week! We are also pledged to connecting to the outdoors through biking, hiking, running and of course the river. With a commitment to the environment and sustainability, we hope to engage the community in support of nonprofits dedicated to community improvement, provide a venue for a mix of music and local artists to perform and exhibit their work, and last but not least, provide an amazing atmosphere for the people of Kent, Ohio and beyond to meet and enjoy great beer, and great times.