North Bay Business Journal

Monday, August 11, 2014, 6:25 am

2014 CFO Awards: Tami Norgrove, Bear Republic Brewing Co., Inc.

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    Chief financial officer

    110 Sandholm Ln., Cloverdale 95425; 707-894-2722; bearrepublic.com

    Employees: 142

    Professional background: My first professional position was with Brunsing Associates, Inc., a Windsor environmental engineering firm, where I worked in many different facets, then I left for Bear Republic Brewing Co., Inc.

    I am one of the four owners of Bear Republic and have worked in all departments of the Cloverdale brewery and Healdsburg brewpub restaurant, helping to grow the company from the ground up.

    Tami Norgrove

    The brewery is a great experience and a wonderful opportunity for the family to work together. I have enjoyed helping my husband and brewmaster Ricardo with recipe formulations from the beginning, and I won the brewery’s first gold medal for my hard apple cider recipe. The first batches of Red Rocket Ale were made in the basement of our house.

    Education: B.S., environmental toxicology, University of California, Davis

    Age: 45

    What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?: I believe a financial leader needs to be an active part of the leadership team for the company. It is important to help provide feedback to the managers and team members to allow the company meet its goals, always with an eye toward looking to see what can be improved.

    What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your industry?: The craft brewing industry continues to grow, so there is increasing visibility for all of us. This is resulting in not only increasing competition throughout all markets but also more attention from regulators and policy-makers to respond to the needs of the industry.

    Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past?: As fifth- and sixth-generation Sonoma County residents, we are proud to be able to establish and grow our business here. We have always worked to support our communities, both in Healdsburg and Cloverdale.

    To work through our growth challenges, we recently paired with the city of Cloverdale to create a special relationship to help fund construction of two groundwater wells. These wells are helping the community through the current drought conditions and will position us for growth in the future.

    What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?: Find time to give back to the community. Volunteerism and supporting others will come full circle and will truly allow you to succeed.

    What’s the best advice for weathering today’s economic environment?: It is important to be willing to adjust and to be flexible. Learn from others, and listen to those who have past experience and expertise.

    How do you think your business will change in the next five years?: We will continue to grow and diversify into different arenas. With our growth and the growth of the industry, there will be increased challenges in controlling costs, obtaining raw ingredients and sourcing locally.

    What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?: Each decision that you may want to change is a chance to learn. It is about how you recover and learn that makes you a better leader.

    What is your most memorable business experience?: The goal of our brewpub from the very beginning was to create and cultivate a pub and restaurant that locals would call their own and make visitors feel at home. Our brewpub in Healdsburg had only been open a few months, and we were slowly getting busier over the weeks.

    One day, we had a waiting list, and I turned to seat the next table but realized there were no more highchairs. All of our high chairs were occupied. It felt like we reached a milestone.

    What is your greatest business success?: What I value most is being able to help our family at Bear Republic. More than 15 years ago, we were one of the first restaurants in our area to offer health care, long before the Affordable Care Act.

    Throughout the years, we have expanded our benefits package. In 2013, we were able to put in place a retirement package for our Bear team members.

    What was your toughest business decision?: Any termination is always difficult. In the end, it will be best for everyone involved, but it is always hard.

    What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?: I have a Star Trek officer’s costume — that I made!

    Most admired businessperson outside the company: Kim Jordan

    Current reading: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

    Most want to meet: Hillary Clinton

    Stress-relievers: Massage and hot tub time

    Favorite activities outside work: Watching movies and camping with my family

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