Decades-long friends and business partners Kyle Wudrich and David Schroter always wanted to start a company together centered around something they were passionate about.
They founded 948 Brewing in 2017 brewing under contract out of other breweries, and participated in SMARTstart in 2018. They entered the program open-minded.
“We had our ideas, but we knew that those were going to get modified,” said Schroter from behind the bar at 948, alongside Wudrich and across the counter from SMARTstart mentor, Stacey Lauer.
Wudrich said, “we didn’t know how to run a business before we got into it.” He acknowledged a long list of things they learned through the program from finding real estate, permits and licensing, to getting product in stores and restaurants.
“It taught us all of those pieces, accounting, how to track all that and think about all of these things that we wouldn’t ever have thought of before we started the program,” said Wudrich.
Lauer, a refrigeration mechanic and business owner (CTR Refrigeration), enjoyed teaming up with 948 as a mentor and continues a business relationship with Wudrich and Schroter, helping them overcome business and refrigeration challenges as they scale up their business.
Lauer knew it would be a good fit when he met Wudrich and Schroter.
“I had built a number of breweries at the time,” said Lauer. “I could be beneficial to these guys and give them some insight.”
After successfully completing the program, Schroter and Wudrich opened their manufacturing and storefront location in Kings Heights in March 2020, days before the pandemic lockdown.
Lauer sees the silver lining.
“COVID has created some strong entrepreneurs because they’ve been able to…deal with that,” he said.
The brewery collaborates with many local businesses related to SMARTstart and otherwise.
“Their customers then become our customers, our customers become their customers, which works out better for everybody,” said Wudrich.
The 948 duo are big fans of SMARTstart, encouraging owners of other new business ventures to take part.
“This is important for this program to succeed, as well as for the businesses afterwards to succeed,” said Schroter.
They can be found in their Kings Heights taproom, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by searching 948 Brewing, or on their website, 948brewing.ca.
Story and photography by Britton Ledingham.