From Rags to Riches–The Founders Brewing Co. Success Story

Dave Engbers enjoying the taste of his Founders beer.

“Dave Engbers, President and Co-Founder of Founders Beer finds the entire microbrew beer industry “quite magical.”

But the magic wasn’t always there.

Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers both had steady jobs when they decided to chase their dreams and open a brewery.  They quit their jobs, took out giant loans, wrote the business plans and started to work.

Dave takes time out of his busy schedule to talk to the Citizen Journalism Team
Dave takes time out of his busy schedule to talk to the Citizen Journalism Team

“We wanted to live life without regrets,”Engbers shared during a recent visit with the WKTV Citizen Journalism team.

In the early work days his life was ridiculously busy.

“We built the six packs, brewed the  beers, cleaned the bathrooms, swept the floors.  I would work from 7:30a.m-2:00 in the morning, he explained.”

They soon found themselves on the verge of bankruptcy.

“There was always a roadblock. We thought of giving up.  The business model didn’t work.  We were under capitalized.  There wasn’t a large craft community out there.  We went through a lot of tough times but the only option was to make it work.”

It was at this point that the team decided to brew the kind of beer that got them excited about brewing in the first place: complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor.   Founders 3

And make it work they did.  They never gave up.

” The last seven years have been tremendous,” Engbers related.

At their new location at 235 Grandville Ave SW, which they have been at since November 2007, they have gone from 16 employees to 290 employees.

“We have gone from 30 barrel tanks to 1500 barrel tanks and 7 ft. tall tanks to nearly 6 story tanks, he explained.”

Their KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) is the highest rated stout in the world.

Through persistence and hard work their beers are now distributed  all over the world and the growth keeps on continuing.

“As of March 2015 we are found in 32 states and 11 countries.  We have been exploring exporting to countries overseas– England, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Mexico, Austrailia–all over the world.”

Engbers is a Hope College Graduate with a degree in Communication/English. He lives in East Grand Rapids with a young family of four children and a very understanding wife.

The Founders Family, a group of passionate beer enthusiasts, has grown around this simple philosophy: “We don’t brew beer for the masses. Instead, our beers are crafted for a chosen few, a small cadre of renegades and rebels who enjoy a beer that pushes the limits of what is commonly accepted as taste. In short, we make beer for people like us.”

Founders Brewing Co. has been lucky to evolve into one of the highest recognized breweries in the United States.

David Engbers favorite brand is obviously Founders but he doesn’t have a favorite type.

“Our beers are like our children.  We love all our children for their uniqueness.  There are no favorites.” he laughingly concluded.

He is very proud of his staff– who is like a second family to him– for all of their accomplishments and their extreme work ethic.

“It has been great watching everyone develop as a human being.  We call it the Founders Family and we care and love one another,” he concluded.    Founders 2

Check out their website for upcoming events and information.