2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Emerging Entrepreneur

Fisher brews foam and fun at WeldWerks 2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Emerging Entrepreneur

It all started in his garage.

When Neil Fisher brewed his first batch of beer there, he knew he’d open a brewery someday. The cofounder of Greeley-based craft brewery WeldWerks started dreaming and planning.

Fisher met his future business partner, Colin Jones, in a home-brewing group and the two started attending brew festivals and events, going on brewery tours and testing out new formulations (brewed in the garage). The conversation seemed to always drift to the topic of opening their own brewery. Fisher set the criteria for serious consideration: If one of their brews garnered a home-brewers award, the conversations would start in earnest.

After winning an award at Vail’s Big Beers festival in January 2014, the two came home, put the trophy on a shelf and proceeded to spend the next two months writing a business plan. A year later, with investors invested, loans secured and a location in downtown Greeley finished out, WeldWerks was up and running.

“We underestimated the excitement around bringing a craft brewery to Greeley,” mused Fisher.  “People believed in our vision and what we wanted to do, and they helped us make it all happen. It was really cool.”

Fisher came to Colorado from Chapel Hill, N.C., where he attended “the other UNC.” He was offered a position as development director with the nonprofit organization Reach Ministries, which offers home repairs to low-income families. He loved what he did, but the opportunity to mix creativity, entrepreneurism, the day-to-day variety of running a business and a love of beer into one vat was enough to make the leap.

The leap was terrifying, he said. Married, with a home and two children, leaving a stable salary for the uncertainty of a time-consuming startup came with equal parts doubt and enthusiasm. The enthusiasm was enough to overcome the fact that “we didn’t know what we were doing.”

Neither Fisher nor Jones had ever been in the brewing business — not from the brewing or management sides. Jones had some experience with a tech business he started while in college, but the pair was confident in the extensive research and preparation they undertook prior to opening WeldWerks. Even so, they were keenly aware of the risks they were taking on and that there were no guarantees of success.

Some ventures are worth the risk, and WeldWerks is one of them. Since opening in 2015, the brewery has grown 1,000 percent. The first year WeldWerks brewed approximately 550 barrels of beer. This year, it’s are on track to break 5,000.

Fisher and Jones also are committed to investing in the community as active members of The House That Beer Built, a partnership local breweries have with Habitat for Humanity. It’s a natural extension of the work Fisher did with Reach Ministries.

Moving forward, Fisher and Jones are focused on managing the growth and maintaining the high-quality product their customers expect. A quick survey of out-of-state license plates in the parking lot — from neighbors Nebraska, Wyoming and Kansas to farther-flung locales such as California — is a nod that something is working at WeldWerks.

Click here to read about all 2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur honorees.

It all started in his garage.

When Neil Fisher brewed his first batch of beer there, he knew he’d open a brewery someday. The cofounder of Greeley-based craft brewery WeldWerks started dreaming and planning.

Fisher met his future business partner, Colin Jones, in a home-brewing group and the two started attending brew festivals and events, going on brewery tours and testing out new formulations (brewed in the garage). The conversation seemed to always drift to the topic of opening their own brewery. Fisher set the criteria for serious consideration: If one of their brews garnered a home-brewers award, the conversations would start in earnest.

After winning an award at Vail’s Big Beers festival in January 2014, the two came home, put the trophy on a shelf and proceeded to spend the next two months writing a business plan. A year later, with investors invested, loans secured and a location in downtown Greeley finished out, WeldWerks was up and running.

“We underestimated the excitement around bringing a craft brewery to Greeley,” mused Fisher.  “People believed in our vision and what we wanted to do, and they helped us make it all happen. It was really cool.”

Fisher came to Colorado from Chapel Hill, N.C., where he attended “the other UNC.” He was offered a position as…