With operations at the brewery shut down today, I find myself reflecting on our journey thus far, and can’t help but feel thankful.
For me, this journey didn’t begin last June when we opened our doors, nor did it begin when we started building the facility in December 2013, nor when I came up with the idea for Able Ebenezer in early 2013, nor when I started homebrewing years ago. For me, it began in 2008 out in the desert of West Texas, when a fellow brother-in-arms and dear friend gave me a book.
Reading Atlas Shrugged granted me a new perspective on life; a perspective that was magnified by my time in the military. Some out there would call this book controversial or offensive; some may even judge me for placing it in such high regard. Spoiler alert: I don’t care, nor do I think about you at all.
Written words are a special thing; they preserve thoughts and ideas for the generations to come, ensuring they don’t become lost. I have found I learn something from every book I open; whether or not I agree with the author’s idea is irrelevant. Within Ayn Rand’s story, I found individual strength, purpose and passion; it made me a better soldier and more capable leader. Above all, I discovered meaning for my life: I wanted to build something; something which would make the world a better, happier place.
Now, several years later, as I sit here amidst the rare silence and calm within the brewery, I must express how astonished I am to look at what we’ve built thus far. 17 months in, we’ve already maxed out our production capacity (don’t sweat; more tanks are on the way), and have our products pouring at well over 50 local restaurants - and counting. It has taken a great deal of hard work and sacrifice, as it does to build anything of meaning (just one of the lessons I learned from Atlas).
Yet, this - the success of the company - isn’t what I’m thankful for.
I’m thankful for those who chose to join this journey. They are the ones who didn’t see a naive man foolishly dropping a solid career in pursuit of a silly dream. They are the ones who saw someone with a vision - someone who believed in something.
I am thankful for Mike, who has been a battle-buddy, partner, mentor, teacher, confidant and friend. There was no “good” reason for him drop everything and move to New Hampshire to build this with me, yet he did without hesitation (I did have a slight advantage; he found the same as I in reading Atlas). I owe him more than I can describe in words.
I am thankful for Jake and Heather, who joined us at an uncertain time in the company, and committed themselves to build this into something meaningful. They understood our vision, and believed it could be done with the right amount of work. Without them, there would be no Able Ebenezer.
I am thankful for my father, who has been a mentor and supporter from the beginning. He has always been there for me - through good times and bad - and has believed in my “crazy” ideas. His belief in me is why I've pursued the "craziest" ones.
I am thankful for the restaurants who have given us a chance within their draft lineups. Since we only keg our products, we have to compete for these hotly contested lines. While we have still been told “no” more than “yes,” we owe a great deal of appreciation to those who have given us a shot; the opportunity to prove what we could do. We work tirelessly to ensure we don't let them down.
I am thankful for our customers, many of whom have become friends. While it’s obvious for a business owner to say he’s thankful for his customers, since they ultimately pay the bills, I mean it differently: They too see our vision, share our beliefs and have voluntarily joined our cause. It is they who, out of all the products they could spend their hard-earned dollars on, choose to spend them with us. They have become insurgent salespeople, spreading the word about our work. They mitigate moments of doubt, and make challenges easier to overcome. Above all, they remind us everyday why we built this place: to make people happy. We love you guys.
Finally, I am thankful for the book I was given back in 2008. If you haven’t given it a read, maybe it's time. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. Cheers.
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserve and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours.”
-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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