With more than 120 working breweries throughout the county, and an estimated 30-40 in the planning stages, it’s no wonder San Diego has become the nation’s craft brew capital.
That’s why when award winning brewer and Intergalactic Brewery owner Alex Van Horne wanted to expand his tasting room to better serve his growing beer followers, he knew he needed help to make it happen. It was through a fellow brewery owner that Alex was introduced to Loan Officer Rebecca Harver at Accion and Will Rivera at California Southern, who were able to provide him with the guidance and financial assistance needed to turn his expansion into reality.
An interview with Intergalactic Brewery owner, Alex Van Horne.
CS: How and when did Intergalactic Brewing begin?
AVH: I started home brewing a little more than six years ago. I’d always thought Intergalactic would be a fun name for a brew – a combination of “nerdy and geeky” that seemed to fit right in with my style of beer. Two years into brewing, I made the decision to “go pro.”
CS: At what point did you seek out funding and what specifically were you looking to do at that time?
AVH: There were several times when I went looking for expansion funding. We’d done very well in maintaining our business, but securing and saving the extra capital to expand is difficult and time consuming. We wanted to expand and improve our retail experience by opening a non-adjacent tasting room on-site that could seat more customers and be a more comfortable, friendlier environment as opposed to that of a hot warehouse.
CS: How were you introduced to Accion and California Southern?
AVH: In the spirit of staying local, I reached out to another San Diego brewery owner who had worked with Rebecca Harver at Accion and suggested I give her a call. Rebecca took the time to understand what we were looking to accomplish and brought in Will Rivera at California Southern to secure the funding we needed to expand. While our plans changed a few times due to the lack of available lease space, Rebecca and I kept in touch. She and Will served as my advocates through the entire application process, which was more transparent than I could have imagined. As a result of the financing we secured through California Southern, we’ve been able to grow our presence within the local brewing community, have seen a significant uptick in traffic in our tasting room, and have seen an increase in market awareness and demand on the distribution side of the house.
CS: What are you future plans for the brewery?
AVH: That is the million, or I guess billion, dollar question now. My goals for the brewery are constantly changing and adapting to the current conditions. Getting into a better location for our upgraded tasting room was a huge goal of mine. It took a few years, but we got there. Looking ahead…
In the short term, I’m currently focusing on expanding our cold storage capacity, hiring more staff, getting ready for San Diego Beer Week and working with Non-Profits on fundraising.
As for our long term goals, we are looking at expanding our capacity dramatically; opening a second satellite tasting room and potential brewery, getting more aggressive in distribution and starting a sour and barrel aged beer program. When we’re ready to pull the trigger, I know my first call will be to California Southern.
#1 – Keep your financial information neat and organized. Understanding your financials is a huge step in expediting the process and making sure you have realistic expectations about how much you can and need to finance.
#2 – Always remember that lenders, bankers and underwriters are there for a reason. Asking questions is the best thing you can do to understand the situation and maximize your lending potential.
#3 — Expect the unexpected. Sometimes, things can only be learned through experience, but if you can set yourself up for success by doing things properly in the first place, it makes it a lot easier to learn without making blunders that can really hurt your chances of securing funding.
“A highlight of working with California Southern is that they make it possible for loans like Intergalactic Brewing to fund. The State program, guaranteeing 80% of the loan, allows for Accion to take slightly more risk on a deal that would traditionally be denied in a bank.” - Rebecca Harver, Loan Officer at Accion