With the influx of microbreweries in Alberta, hearing about another one may not catch your interest. But I can assure you this: Village Brewery is different. Jim Button, one of the co-founders of the brewery, is a driving force behind that fact. Not only does he have a strong background in marketing and brewing, but he has an infectious passion for his community and a strong commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy.
Jim’s passion comes through in what he has built with Village Brewery – a business built around beer but dedicated to bringing together the community in Alberta. From a community blog and their own Village Radio to community events and a commitment to social enterprise, Village Brewery is truly a brewery for the people.
Gaining valuable experience
With over 30 years of experience in marketing and over 20 years in the beer industry, Jim was particularly qualified to build Village Brewery from the ground up. Jim’s varied background ranges from starting a delivery company at the tender age of 13 to partnering in a financial planning business, as well as co-founding The Event Group in Calgary. He also worked at a number of advertising agencies in Toronto and with Arlene Dickinson of Venture Communications as a PR, promotions, and events professional. When the plans for the brewery were just getting started, Jim also accepted a position as a Digital Strategist for Evans Hunt Group, where he gets to help his clients build community and engagement with their online personas.
But Jim’s passion has always been bringing people together and getting his community involved; he fervently believes that “beer can do that” (and really, who are we to argue?). Together with great groups of partners, he has founded countless festivals, conferences and programs to help build a more connected Calgary – Best of Calgary and Circle Carnival Calgary being two of the most recent successes.
The launch of a movement
Jim’s experience working for Molson Canada, Sleeman, and Big Rock taught him that you can create a movement using beer, and he was determined to do just that. Village Brewery’s tagline, “It takes a village” is especially fitting. As a founder of Village Brewery, Jim’s mission is to gather people within his community and get them talking over a pint (or two) of his delicious craft brews. He knows that he couldn’t do what he does without his amazing team at Village Brewery.
The founders of Village Brewery
Serendipity – that is what Jim calls his ability to bring together a passionate and experienced group of founders. The team brings an incredible 180 years of combined experience in the beer industry and a wide range of skills including brewing, sales, leadership, finance, and more. What is the most important trait among the team members? A strong commitment to community and using the brewery to bring Albertans together.
When you talk to Jim about challenges with his business, he brushes them aside – not because he hasn’t had any, but because he has faith in his team to work through them. From a recall on growlers to running out of space for the growing business, challenges are more of a minor speedbump when you’ve assembled an experienced and dedicated team of people.
The importance of giving back
Jim’s passion for community investment has been a common thread throughout his career and has earned him a number of awards, including a philanthropy award from the Canadian Association of Fundraising Professionals, two “40 Under 40” awards with Avenue Magazine, the Calgary Chamber Sherrold Moore Award for Community, and the Business in Calgary Leaders Award. He is also very active with local non-profits and has sat on over 25 volunteer boards and committees over the years.
It is no surprise then that Village Brewery is committed to contributing 10% of profits to supporting the arts and community in Alberta. They build events around supporting local artists and contributing to local charities. The team has also recently helped launch an initiative called the Barley Belt with five other craft breweries in a budding brewery sector in southeast Calgary. Jim doesn’t view it as a competition, but instead believes that collaborating with other brewers and sharing knowledge will lead to an improved product for everyone.
Jim has the following advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs:
If you’re passionate about something, just start.
It takes both sides of the brain to make things work. You need people in your business who have a passion for making something and people who have a passion for making money. Both are necessary to build a sustainable business that allows you to do good work.
What’s next for their team? Their Barley Belt venture will officially launch on August 27th with the Barley Belt Tap Tour, and Sept 9th the Circle Carnival is taking place at Currie in Calgary. Jim and his team plan to continue innovating and collaborating with others in their industry, including new brews made with hops and other produce from community gardens.
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