Utah beer enthusiasts may have reason to celebrate, with two of Utah's largest craft beer labels expanding their product and restaurants. Wasatch Beers and Squatters Beer partnered with Fireman Capital Partners, a Boston-based invest firm focused on consumer product companies, which plans to invest in the two beer labels allowing both brands to expand their operations.
Fireman Capital Partners will be investing an undisclosed, but "substantial" amount into the two labels and their restaurant operations, according to a press release, and will start by updating both restaurant locations in Park City.
"Wasatch and Squatters have all the elements we're looking for," said Dan Fireman, the managing partner of Fireman Capital Partners. "They are a major part of some key markets. They have wonderful labeling and branding that is very cool We see the potential for these beers to grow outside of Utah in a major way."
"We'll be adding people to help advise the restaurant and service industries," he added. "Basically, we want to modernize and improve upon what already exists. These restaurants work really well, but we're going to make them more up-to-date and more exciting."
Later projects may include new restaurant locations in and out of state, expanding beer distribution and varieties and looking into new markets for the products.
"The craft beer industry so healthy now," said Wasatch founder and owner Greg Schirf. "It made sense to put ourselves in position to grow."
"We did not look into conventional bank loans," he added. " Working with Fireman Capital Partners is more open ended. That's why we created this deal, because there is an open line of credit and the investments will depend on what we are doing."
Originally founded in Park City, Wasatch Beers and Wasatch Brewpub first opened in 1986. Squatters opened three years later in 1989. The two beer labels teamed up in 2000, forming the Utah Brewers Cooperative in Salt Lake City where the two companies teamed up to produce both labels under one roof.
The Utah Brewers Cooperative approached Fireman Capital Partners earlier this year after seeing the work the work the firm did with another beverage company, Evolution Fresh. The juice manufacturers were bought by Starbucks in 2011, making headlines and catching the attention of the Squatters and Wasatch business partners.
"To make this all work, to create potential, the craft beer industry had to be robust and growing," Schirf said. "They are going to create some financial wherewithal to grow the business and we are maintaining ownership. The transition will be seamless to the consumer and the day-to-day operations will not be changing."
Since the Utah Brewers Cooperation was formed, both Squatters and Wasatch have grown and now sell their labels in 11 states, including Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Oregon.
In the United States, the craft brewing industry is valued at roughly $1.1 billion industry and is continuing to grow, a major factor, Fireman said, about why the firm decided to invest in Squatters and Wasatch. From 1994 to 2012, the industry jumped from 3 percent of the total beer volume sold to 6 percent, a trend that is expected to increase to 10 percent of all domestic beer sales by 2016.
"We are currently evaluating new markets and we're also looking at the markets we are already in," said Peter Cole, Park City resident and co-founder of Squatters Beer. "And within a fairly short amount of time, we'll have developed and refined our plans for next year. Soon, we will have a complete team to move forward."