Each quarter Thebeerchaser recognizes an individual or group that in his opinion has made a contribution to humanity. Said “honoree” may or may not have anything to do with beer or bars other than enjoying an occasional microbrew (or PBR) in a favorite watering hole. This quarter, I do a shout out to Dr. Sam Holloway, professor at the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business Administration.
Sam joins two other professors and a colleague at the University of Portland as academicians featured previously by Thebeerchaser. The former includes Princeton Professor Emeritus, Dr. Harry Frankfurt, author of the wonderful book On Bullshit. (January, 2012)
And in June that same year, Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOTQ) was my graduate school Public Finance professor, Dr. John Walker from Portland State University whose humorous and cynical quips at the beginning of each lecture still make me chuckle including these two:
“It’s much more economically efficient to bury people vertically rather than horizontally.”
“It is my opinion that we could lower the defense budget to zero and the Russians would not attack….However the Mexicans would.”
Named BOTQ in the first quarter of 2014, and a colleague of Sam Holloway’s at UP is accomplished Northwest author, Brian Doyle, who is the editor of the award-winning University of Portland quarterly magazine (Portland) and author of six collections of essays, two nonfiction books, two collections of “proems,” a short story collection and three novels – Mink River, The Plover, and Martin Marten (published in 2015).
But we aren’t highlighting Sam’s career based strictly on his formidable academic credentials and classroom record which will be addressed later in this post. Sam’s contribution to the micro-craft industry is also noteworthy.
One of my wife’s and my favorite professors in graduate school at PSU was Dr. Walt Ellis. Walt, besides giving great lectures and having a personal interest in his students’ careers, also loved to have a beer and conversation with his students after our three-hour evening classes.
Well, not only has Sam garnered awards and rave reviews by his students for his lectures, but he likes beer. And who could ask more than having a professor who is a nationally (and now internationally) known brewery consultant. And he’s an equity shareholder in addition to being on the board of directors of Eugene’s Oakshire Brewery – since 2010, helping them grow from about 1822 bbls to a projected output in 2015 above 10,000 bbls annually. The brewery founded in 2006 evolved from a home-brewing hobby to an award-winning NW brewery.
Lisa Morrison, known throughout the Northwest as the Beer Goddess, is an author and former broadcaster and was the first female “honoree” to be named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (First quarter of 2015). She is a friend of Sam Holloway’s and in response to my request, wrote this endorsement:
“So often, people become brewers because they love what they do and they love the craft. But there’s a business side to brewing. That’s the side that, unfortunately, a lot of artisan brewers neglect.
Sam Holloway is the guy who steps in and helps these breweries actually become businesses. His knowledge and expertise in business, coupled with a true love and passion for craft brewing, is the perfect combination for these brewers and breweries who need a little tough business love.”
One wonders how a guy in his thirties could have accomplished so much in so little time. After graduating from Willamette University, he received his Masters in Teaching at Pacific University. He taught advanced physics in Prague and then secondary mathematics in Beaverton, subsequently completing his Ph.D. at the U of O, (2009)specializing in strategic management and entrepreneurship. Sam was also named the outstanding graduate student teacher while at the U of O.
He became a professor at UP in 2010 and was granted tenure in 2015. We will see why UP is a dynamic university – one willing to take risks to fully use Sam’s talents with impressive results.
Besides his 2008 book (Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management), his numerous journal articles and publications fill about four of the total eleven pages in his curriculum vitae (that’s academician speak for “resume”….) But what has Dr. Sam done to promote my favorite beverage and advance the micro-craft industry?
Let’s start with the most recent example and consider the slogan, “Craft Beer Deserves Craft Strategy.” This phrase on the cover of the brochure below announced University of Portland’s Master Strategist Certificate – the world’s first graduate level training dedicated to the business of craft beer. In the words of UP’s Dean of Business, Robin Anderson:
“We are going to lead the way and will help train craft beer professionals across the globe to run profitable, ethical and socially responsible businesses.”
Sam and his colleague, Dr. Mark Meckler were the driving force behind this initiative and UP jumped on the opportunity to lead.
His involvement with Oakshire Brewing resulted both from good timing and the fact that he was not a very good soccer player. After their first child (they now have two girls), Sam’s wife, Robin (who he met at a Sigma Alpha Epsilon house dance at Willamette) told him that he needed to get a diversion from his Ph.D. studies.
He chose indoor soccer because the team’s only two requirements were to pay a $42 registration fee and to drink beer. The decision was fortuitous but not because of his soccer ability. He and another guy, Jeff Althouse, a middle-school math teacher, were the worst two players on the team and spent most of their time on the bench talking about beer issues.
Jeff, parlayed his love for home brewing and his recipe for an excellent amber ale, into founding Eugene’s Oakshire Brewing with his brother. Sam had used Oakshire as a case study when working on his doctorate and Althouse invited Sam to join the Oakshire Board.
The consulting firm, Crafting a Strategy, followed soon afterward. “…..as an intellectual and professional exercise, Sam applied every advanced business strategy and theory he learned in grad school to the Craft Beer Industry and helped Jeff apply it to his young craft brewery business. ” (Crafting a Strategy website)
His expertise and academic position led to speaking engagements all over the US and then internationally (Finland, Denmark, Ireland – even to the Guinness’ Global Brand Team in Dublin). Brewery owners and entrepreneurs wanted his advice. (He left for San Francisco the day after I interviewed him at the invitation of the convener of an annual Wharton Business School Conference.)
Based on his professional demands, Sam teamed with his friend, Meckler, who had extensive expertise as a chef (trained in Switzerland) and with extensive work in food/beverage management. The synergy was obvious as they advised clients that “the restaurant side could destroy an otherwise viable craft brewing business.”
To achieve their strategy, the third founder joined them – Joe Belcher, whose marketing background with Disney, Hollywood Entertainment and Nintendo and his specialty in brand development and e-commerce were a perfect complement.
Check out their website and blog which is a gold mine of information on brewery operation, financing and marketing. And a great example of Sam’s teaching style can be observed in the 2015 video below in which he addressed the 10th annual South Dakota Entrepreneurship Conference.
Take a look at one session held at the Wooden Legs Brewing Company in Brookings, South Dakota (I told you that he spoke all over the US!). Sam speaks without notes and is totally engaging. My intent was to listen for two or three minutes and after hearing him expound on “How to Make a Profitable Cheeseburger,” I was compelled to take in the entire forty-five minute discussion:
So let’s finish with Sam’s role as a professor. This comment on the website “Rate my Professor,” is indicative. (It was also interesting that the first advertisement that appeared on this site was one for Victoria’s Secret — but we digress…..)
“Sam’s class is awesome and refreshing my senior year. I highly recommend him. I haven’t missed a class and enjoy his lectures and videos in class. Plus Sam is on the board of Oakshire brewing, #AMAZING”
This review echoed the sentiments of my future son-in-law, Ryan Keene. Both Ryan and my daughter, Laura, are UP graduates. Ryan said that Sam was his favorite professor and stated:
“Dr. Holloway understands how to engage students so that everyone in the classroom is interested. He challenges student to think outside the box. It helps that he has become an expert in the brewing business. What college senior doesn’t want to talk beer economics in the classroom?”
And based on the outstanding education both Ryan and my daughter received and my own contacts with the University, Thebeerchaser will admit a bias.
That said, besides his motivation and intelligence, one of the reasons that Sam Holloway is thriving at UP is the progressiveness of the Administration and academic leaders towards new and innovative ideas.
When Sam, as a new faculty member, approached his Dean about both serving on the Oakshire Board and his wish to research the brewing business as part of his academic endeavors, the conversation went something like this:
Sam: Dean Anderson, I serve on the board of Oakshire Brewing I hope there is no problem with that?
Dean: I think that is a great opportunity for you and it can be of mutual benefit to the University.
Sam: And I want to research and learn the business of brewing and breweries as a fundamental part of my academic research.
Dean: What do you need?
Sam: Your support and a blank check….
Dean: You have my support…….!
UP has supported and funded Sam’s endeavors, and it has provided a great return for the University. We have already examined the graduate certificate (Master Strategist Certificate) and the students’ classroom experience has been enhanced.
Consistent with his philosophy of “expanding beyond the classroom,” Sam has taken students to Europe in both 2012 (twelve) and will again next month (ten) where they interact with executives and management types. The students witnessed Sam’s presentation to the Guinness Global Branding Team as a guest of the Danish government.
With connections facilitated by UP Board of Regents member, Larree Renda, a retired Safeway executive, they met Guiness’ Master Brewer, Fergal Murray in the Guiness VIP Lounge in Dublin. Murray showed the UP students how to “pour the perfect pint.” (He previoulsly poured for Tom Cruise, Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama in this same room.)
In addition, he has helped place several students in craft brewing businesses and the industry students in his class share their knowledge. For example, one of Sam’s students, Gavin Johnson, was awarded an internship while at UP and is now Head of Production at Widmer Brewing. There are other examples…..
It would appear that UP does its utmost to avoid the admonition expressed by Derek Bok, attorney and former President of Harvard University:
“Efforts to develop critical thinking falter in practice because too many professors still lecture to passive audiences instead of challenging students to apply what they have learned to new questions.”
UP is currently gutting its student union (The Cove) to include a bar, a permanent stage, more seating and a renovated kitchen. With its restaurant-style interior, refitted kitchen and a new bar serving alcohol to students twenty-one and over, The Cove should be a “hopping” place – don’t be surprised if they have Oakshire on tap.
And if they use the expertise of Professors Holloway and Meckler, it is quite probable that the profits on cheeseburgers and beer will help fund some new scholarships at UP. Dean Anderson will continue to get a return on his investment.
And he and his colleagues will keep preaching about the significant spillover benefits to the community – breweries transfer wealth to society more than to individual entrepreneurs. According to Holloway and Meckler:
“Craft breweries are a great vehicle for both civic and economic wealth creation….Civic wealth is a driver for economic health. It increases as new businesses surround the breweries and property values increase.
Economic wealth goes up because breweries can pay normal wages to their employees and can treat them like creative, thoughtful people, not like worker bees. Taxes are generated that get paid locally. People prosper by what we think of as ‘the sacrament of beer.’”
This is one reason that their consulting firm has a number of clients that are local governments and NGO’s around the country – they want part of this action!
And finally, Sam is a fraternity brother of mine as is his dad, Portland attorney Ron Holloway, one of the founders of the Sather, Byerly & Holloway law firm. Ron was also my room-head in my first term at Oregon State.
Ron, Sam, Ryan Keene and I got together to lift a mug (and for Ron and Dirt to tell old stories) one afternoon several months ago at the Low Brow Lounge in the Pearl District. I’m sure that Sam will relate what he learned that afternoon to his students. Maybe Thebeerchaser will decide to audit one of his classes.