As a former lawyer and environmental engineer, Shawn Moen and Garrett Pederson knew for years, before even starting their own business, that they had a passion for well-made beer. Like many entrepreneurs, their passion, combined with an opportunity to take a swing at starting their own business, was where 9 Mile Legacy Brewing was born.
In 2013, both Shawn and Garrett left their professional careers behind to travel and work in commercial breweries. The intent was to learn more about the industry so they could eventually start their own brewery, but the partnership between the Moen and Pederson families started well before Shawn and Garrett’s time. A hundred years ago, both families immigrated to Saskatchewan and had farms nine miles apart from one another. “As a result of being neighbours and sharing a similar mindset and approach, each generation of Moens and Pedersons seems to have found themselves working together, weathering hardships and celebrating good times together,” Shawn explained. The partnership between Shawn and Garret is very much a legacy of those who came before them, and the family history is where the name 9 Mile Legacy Brewing came from.
After traveling to places throughout the United States, New Zealand and British Columbia, their passion for beer and tradition brought the pair back to Saskatchewan to open their business. “It has been wonderful to share different beer styles with the people of Saskatchewan and push boundaries of what beer can be,” Shawn said. Aside from bringing their passion for beer home, Shawn explained that being able to breathe life into an idea and watching it grow has been one of the most rewarding parts of being an entrepreneur.
Since Shawn and Garrett have been friends for as long as they can remember, going into business together seemed natural for them, but that doesn’t mean that the partnership with one another is always easy. “The key to maintaining our partnership and friendship has been developing a clear understanding of our roles and responsibilities and then committing to communicating clearly and respectfully,” Shawn explains. “It’s definitely not easy and takes a look of work, but having a business partner on whom you can rely and trust is invaluable.”
As a lawyer and environmental engineering technician, Shawn and Garrett’s professional backgrounds weren’t in the beer industry. However, Shawn feels that their experience in those fields definitely informs how they approach their business, whether from a technical level like how to deal with regulators, or a general level like understanding the value of client service. Upon deciding to quit their corporate careers, the pair deliberately sought out industry-specific work experience while they were traveling around the world. “This was not easy, we spent the better part of a year doing this and we were often working for free,” Shawn explained. “But the importance cannot be understated.” Like any new business, there’s always a huge learning curve, but gaining valuable experience in the industry definitely helped the two put their best foot forward.
Shawn and Garrett had two pieces of advice for others starting a business:
1) Plan and prepare. At some point you will need to jump in the pool and start to swim, but the more you can identify and prepare for in advance, the better your chance your business will have at succeeding.
2) Surround yourself with like-minded and competent people. Many small businesses are successful initially due to the vision of the founders, but if you can’t move beyond that, you can suffer from tunnel vision and stagnancy.
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada