North Coast Brewing's Jennifer Owen wins 2019 North Bay CFO award

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Jennifer Owen


North Coast Brewing Company Inc.

455 N Main Street, Fort Bragg 95437

707-964-2739 x212

Number of company employees: 128

Professional background: I am a CPA and have worked in public accounting; as a non-profit and for-profit accounting manager; and in city government performing housing and economic development tasks. I’ve also received extensive training in non-profit governance and have served on several local, regional and state-wide non-profit boards.

Education: Bachelor of Science accounting; Bachelor of Science, marketing

Profile Questions:

How has the current economic environment changed how you carry out your job at your current employer?

Low unemployment rates and limited housing stock make it is especially difficult for us to find qualified staff in our small rural community. As a result, we are always on the lookout for capable individuals who already live in our town. We recruit smart, capable, and hard-working people and are happy to train the right person to fill our needs.

What are the two key challenges your industry faces?

Two key challenges facing the craft beer industry are: (1) ballooning number of start-up, micro-brew competitors and (2) consolidation of distributors into large conglomerates that are less responsive to the needs of smaller producers.

Tell us about a recent success your company has had.

We were thrilled to learn that North Coast Brewing was recently awarded a platinum medal for Brother Thelonious Belgian-Style Ale, as well as a gold medal for our Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse, at the world Beer Champion ships.

What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?

To be a good leader, you need to be aware of and involved in what is happening in your company, your community, and the world. Promote and exemplify integrity. Learn to listen well so you can ask good questions, and never stop learning – or asking questions!

How do you think your business will change in the next five years?

The craft beer industry is in flux. With so many new beers constantly entering the market, we’ll need to work hard and innovate so we continue to attract new consumers – while continuing to provide our popular traditional brands.

What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?

I try not to dwell on past decisions, right or wrong. My goal is to base decisions on data and facts with a view toward the long-term and big picture. If a decision turns out to have been wrong, either my research was lacking or conditions changed in an unforeseen way. All we can do is make the best decision at the time – and most importantly, be ready and willing to change course if necessary.

What is your most memorable business experience?

In my position at the City of Fort Bragg, I wrote grants that resulted in funding for construction of important community facilities as well as funding for business development. It’s extremely gratifying to know your efforts have made a difference in your community.

What is your greatest business success?

My role has typically been in support of businesses, providing technical advice, business counseling, and resource guidance. One of my most satisfying achievements was to bring grant funding to the City of Fort Bragg to convert a large, long-vacant commercial property into a greatly needed non-profit service center.

What was your toughest business decision?

Change is always hard. Accounting professionals tend to be the drivers of change when cost adjustments are necessary, however painful and personal. I focus on making data-based decisions whenever possible, with a focus on long-term outcomes – while always considering and acknowledging the human fallout.

What would your friends and family be surprised to find out about you?

My friends and family know just about all there is to know about me – they’ve seen me at my best and worst!

Tell us about your community involvement activities.

Accountants are always in demand for board service, and I’ve served on a number of local boards. I’m currently a board member of our local hospital foundation and also serve on the Coast Campus affiliate “friends” board for the Mendocino College Foundation. I recently retired after 19 years on the Fort Bragg USD school board, and during that time I also served as a California School Boards Association Director and board member.

Jennifer Owen


North Coast Brewing Company Inc.

455 N Main Street, Fort Bragg 95437

707-964-2739 x212

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