Cheers to 40 Years of Ownership
College City Beverage owner Jim Sawyer recently celebrated a pretty impressive milestone – 40 years of ownership! We sat down with Jim to get some words of wisdom on how he got here and advice he has for other business owners.
What does 40 years mean to you and how has it been watching CCB change over the years?
It means I’m getting old.
It’s been really great. I am really proud of our team and what they’ve been able to do to help CCB grow and get to where it is today.
How did you get started 40 years ago?
Originally I was a banker here in Northfield, and back then it was common to get transferred every few years. And I said no more and decided to find something different. He approached his future partner Tom Blaisdell and asked him what he thought about going into the beer business. Neither one of them knew much about it, but knew how to read a financial statement and work on cash flow. So a few months later they entered the beer business!
How did you get into the beer business?
It was our fortune and my neighbor’s misfortune. Our neighbor had originally came into the bank and said he had been hired by College City Beverage to run the business and that he wanted to buy it one day. He asked if we would finance him, not having seen any financial statements we said no but would be interested to have the first opportunity to help once available. He unfortunately passed at a young age. So a few years later with that in the back of our minds we gained ownership of CCB with ten employees and continued to grow from there.
What has it been like being a family owned and operated company?
It’s great and feels safe. I don’t worry about them, they have done a great job since they took over operations. I volunteer on a board for a bank so it’s nice to be able to dabble in both worlds.
Has the company followed your original vision?
It has exceeded all of my expectations. We started with 200,000 cases which included restaurant supplies along with beer cases, now look at our inventory. We have the best employees anyone could have, they are very hardworking. It’s definitely like a family here at CCB.
What words of advice would you give a business owner just starting out?
Don’t be greedy. Just because you own your own business and can pay yourself whatever salary you like, doesn’t mean you should.
Watch your expenses. Keep good control of those.
Hire good people. We depend on our employees.