In recent years, Canadian breweries have enjoyed astounding success. For evidence, you need only review the results of the most recent U.S. Open Beer Championship. This contest takes place every year, and it’s open to both professionals and amateurs. American, Canadian, and British beer experts judge the entries.
Canada earned two dozen medals at the 2017 competition. Of those 24 awards, 21 went to Ontario, two to Quebec, and one to British Columbia.
While many people are responsible for Canada’s thriving brewing industry, one individual deserves special credit. His name is Eli Gershkovitch. Eli is a craft brewing authority, a pilot, and the CEO of Steamworks Group of Companies.
Eli has been developing craft beers for more than two decades. Indeed, he started doing so long before this type of beverage became trendy.
A Lawyer Longs for Something More
When he was young, Eli Gershkovitch felt drawn to two careers. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to be a lawyer or to lead the creative department at an advertising agency. Eli ended up going to law school at the University of Toronto, and he then practiced law in Vancouver. For sure, in the years since, his legal knowledge has often come in handy. The regulations governing the making and selling of beer are notoriously complex.
When he was a solicitor, which is a Canadian lawyer who typically doesn’t show up in a courtroom, something frequently gnawed at Eli Gershkovitch (LinkedIn). He had a sense that he wanted to become an entrepreneur. During a 1987 trip to Europe, he visited a number of breweries. He was impressed by the variety of flavors he encountered, and he was particularly taken with the beverages he sampled in Heidelberg, Germany.
Eli also loved how brewery owners have complete control over every aspect of creating their products. Unlike so many businesspeople, they don’t rely on outside manufacturers. Plus, they handle distribution, advertising, and every other business activity. In short, Eli’s new career goal became obvious to him, and he was soon studying the details of the brewing trade in his law office. You might say that it was a calling.
Although he didn’t serve as a lawyer for long, Eli believes that his legal career gave him the self-assurance and the network of contacts that he needed to launch his own company.
A Brewer Goes Global
In 1995, Eli Gershkovitch opened a 184-seat restaurant called Steamworks Brew Pub in Gastown, which is the oldest section of Vancouver. He’d decided to build this eatery inside a building that was a century old, one with steam-powered heating. It seemed like a fortuitous place to open a steam-brewing operation. Steamworks was Canada’s first such brewery, and it was the culmination of Eli’s extensive experimentation and careful research. By the way, this restaurant now boasts 754 seats.
Steamworks Brew Pub produced just six types of craft beer during the first year it was open. At that time, an architect named Soren Rasmussen was Eli’s business partner. In 1997, however, Eli purchased Soren’s interests in this company and became its sole owner.
These days, Steamworks Brew Pub offers its patrons a wide array of outstanding pilsners, pale ales, and other sophisticated beverages. What’s more, the entire Gastown neighborhood, which in the mid-1990s was a relatively staid place, is now home to a dynamic nightlife scene. Its flourishing is a direct result of Eli’s decision to open a brewery there.
Eli later opened a restaurant near Steamworks Brew Pub called Transcontinental, which currently goes by the name Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar. He also owns a combination taproom and brewery in the city of Burnaby, which is just east of Vancouver.
In November 2013, Eli’s large brewery in Burnaby made its debut. Its beers are on sale throughout Canada and in Europe, the U.S., and Hong Kong. Owning and operating this plant has dramatically changed Eli’s career. He has all kinds of decisions to make in terms of international marketing, product packaging, and so on.
Nevertheless, Eli Gershkovitch relishes making all of his own business decisions, and he’s always planned steady growth for his empire. Moreover, Eli loves owning a private company. After all, a public company would have a board of directors as well as shareholders who’d try to tell him what to do.
Fortunately, Eli Gershkovitch isn’t the type of person to work around the clock. Instead, he has intriguing hobbies to help him relax. For instance, he collects classic cars. His 1948 Plymouth Woody station wagon must be a special point of pride.
In addition, since Eli Gershkovitch was a child, he’s been consumed with the idea of flying. In 1993, he earned a pilot’s license, and he owns two airplanes today. In 2009, he went on an especially daring journey. He took off from Vancouver, flew to Europe in a Cessna 182 with one engine, and then flew home to Canada.
The Courage to Be Big
Eli Gershkovitch believes that most successful companies are either very small or very large. Why is that the case? Small businesses can stay lean and nimble, and their expenses are low. Thus, it’s easier for them to navigate the natural ups and downs of the business world. Huge companies, meanwhile, have power, clout, and customer bases that are loyal and far-flung. Therefore, they’re also well-positioned for the long haul.
By contrast, medium-sized businesses tend to face the toughest competition and have the rockiest paths. They lack the resources of the larger companies, and they’re more complicated to manage than their smaller counterparts.
Not long ago, Eli Gershkovitch was a small business owner. He made the bold decision to get much larger. And, over time, he’s proven himself a true visionary. He can usually see the corporate challenges that lie ahead with great clarity, much as he can see for miles when he’s flying one of his planes. Luckily for Eli’s many fans around the world, the skies ahead look clear and bright.