After falling in love with brewing beer while living in Washington, D.C., couple Andrew and Lindsay Nations knew they wanted to bring that craft to their hometown in Shreveport, Louisiana, a place that went without a local alcohol producer since before Prohibition. Since pouring that first pint, Andrew and Lindsay have grown into leaders in Louisiana’s expanding craft beer market.
When Great Raft opened its doors and got into business, the team relied on printed spreadsheets for production, Google Docs for recipes, and countless email exchanges for day-to-day communication. After some time, Andrew, founder and president of Great Raft, said he knew “a better way exists.”
As the Louisiana brewery scene has grown over the past eight years since Great Raft was founded, the team has brought uniqueness and innovation to the forefront of the business to stand out in the crowded market. From beer brewing styles to setting the best price for their products, Great Raft has committed to changes to help the business grow.
Great Raft moved to Ekos to save time, better track inventory, and stay focused on making great beer instead of juggling spreadsheets. From more accurately tracking and calculating margins to taking steps to stay fresh in a crowded beer space, Andrew and Lindsay’s team has worked smarter to achieve organic growth into 2022.
The team’s greatest success is saving so much time on state and federal reporting that they have more time for making beer. Andrew clocks in the hours saved at 20 to 40 hours per month “easy” between himself and three other staff members. All this time saved means Great Raft has more time to ensure their product is as fresh as can be — and that’s one way Great Raft sets itself apart in a crowded landscape.. After all, the number of breweries in Louisiana has quadrupled since Great Raft poured its first pint in 2013. “If you’re going to ask people to pay a premium for hazy IPAs, the least you can do is tell them when it was canned,” Andrew said. Great Raft’s beer is so fresh, in fact, that the business has “Drink Real Beer” trademarked.
Great Raft has also learned a lot since adopting Ekos in 2016. One area where that’s become increasingly important is the cost of goods sold. As the brewery experiments and makes more kinds of beer, pricing gets pretty complicated. However, Andrew has prioritized Great Raft’s pricing strategy as the brewery tackles both innovation and growth. “You’ve got to have your head wrapped around your cost of goods sold or you’re doing yourself and your whole team a disservice,” he said. The team has also learned the benefit of utilizing technology to keep their inventory and taxes in check. Their integration between Ekos and Square has given them “a lot more confidence” in the accuracy of how much beer they have in stock and calculating excise taxes.
Andrew is looking forward to a fresh start in 2022 after a tough year of COVID and an active hurricane season. He says his state’s brewery scene lost quite a few tap handles in 2021, so turning a page will give the industry as a whole some optimism to hang its hat on. “Seeing south Louisiana come back in tourism is going to be huge this year. We’re making huge bets on that,” he said.