When he was a kid growing up outside Nehawka, Nebraska, Caleb Pollard really wanted to be a farmer, just like his dad. But when life took his family in a different direction, Caleb instead attended college, married, and eventually landed roles in the private sector as well as in economic development policy and consultation. Through his work, Caleb interacted regularly with prospective and current small business owners. To witness each of them chase their dreams and work toward goals was incredibly inspirational for Caleb. From that point on, he was hooked on entrepreneurship. In 2008 as career advancement and family led Caleb and his wife, Christine, to the edge of the Eastern Sandhills in Nebraska, he had no idea that a yet-to-be-identified passion was about to begin brewing.
After marveling at the variety of beer in his local bottle shop in the early 2000s, Caleb started home-brewing with a co-worker. His venture into brewing was accidental. Caleb says, “I loved the creativity, independence, and connection to agriculture that was the beer industry.” After traveling extensively and visiting wineries and breweries across the United States, Caleb decided he was ready to pursue a new business venture.
The idea of founding a brewery in Ord, Nebraska, started as any good business does: over beers and a cocktail napkin in 2009. Once he met partners who were as passionate about brewing beer as he was, Caleb knew they had to pursue the opportunity or live a life of regret. Still, he knew that timing was critical and patiently waited for the right opportunity to transform his passion to reality. In 2011, he and his partners formulated their goals and plan of action. In January 2012, they established the company, sought financing, and acquired real estate in downtown Ord. On December 1, 2012, Caleb and his partners broke ground. Ten months later, they opened the doors to Scratchtown Brewing Company. In the summer of 2013, Caleb left his secure job and dived into the business full-time. Inspired by the advice of a former business owner—“You are either all in or you are not. There is no such thing as half-pregnant.”—Caleb accepted that entrepreneurship is not for the uncommitted. He adds, “It was a startling, humbling, and hard lesson to learn.”
Today, Caleb relishes in entrepreneurship that comes with three benefits: creativity is rewarded financially, the buck stops at his desk, and success is derived from a team effort. Whether times are good or challenging, he is thankful for the support he receives, both personally and professionally. “That engagement helps me work through the ups and downs of business ownership,” Caleb states. “Having a solid network of people that help you keep perspective is essential to getting beyond this self-is-my-business mindset.”
Scratchtown Brewing Company has evolved into a solid, profitable business. With a growing payroll and forty percent of the brewery’s business now outside of Ord, Caleb is thrilled to see Scratchtown bring much happiness to his community and beyond. He adds, “To have brand recognition in other states, not just Nebraska, tells me we’re building a reputation based on excellence and good storytelling. That’s exactly what we set out to do.”
Caleb has great advice for anyone wanting to pursue their passion in life. “Make sure your passion will actually make you money and make you happy … you can’t perpetuate a business unless it perpetuates itself.”
Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” When one walks into Scratchtown Brewing Company, sits at the bar, and samples one of their delicious beers while conversing with one of the owners, it soon becomes evident that Caleb and his partners are passionate about what they do and that determination fuels their journey every day.
Life has come full circle for Caleb. Now as a business owner who persistently sets and works toward goals, he is successfully chasing his dream—and perhaps in the process, quietly inspiring another young person who has no idea their own passion is brewing.
For more information about Scratchtown Brewing Company, visit http://scratchtown.beer/.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.