Make a Living and a Difference

Gary Brown, founder and owner of Boondocks Brewing, discusses the reason he transitioned from the corporate world to starting and growing his business in West Jefferson, North Carolina. Through great skill and timing, he ended up starting far more than a small craft brewery and now employs over 50 people in the Ashe County region.

I always tell people when I leave Winston-Salem and I cross over the 77 interchange on 421, and then I see that first view of the mountains, my blood pressure goes down.

Well Boondocks is a multi-tiered business. First and foremost, we're a craft beer brewery. We're also a full-service restaurant. We also have a catering line of the business, so we kind of look at ourselves as three legs of the stool when we operate in those three different business models. The thought of Boondocks came into my head a number of years ago. I spent 30-some-odd years in the corporate IT world and I was spending too much time offshoring, doing things that just did not feel right to me. When I took that early retirement, I'm like, "I'm gonna open up a little small homebrew shop, maybe a little bottle shop." I started looking at some properties. There was a restaurant in our current location that's kind of on their way out. They actually said, "Why don't you just buy us and start this Boondocks thing here?" I had no interest in starting a restaurant, but then I got to know some of the staff and I'm like, you know, I can do this. We can do it better. I can even allow you to keep your jobs and create even more jobs.

I spent 49 years making a living without making a difference, and this was an opportunity to make that difference. I think one of the best things about being an entrepreneur is creating jobs, creating opportunities. Right now, one of my managers told me an hour ago for the first time she's made a down payment. I've got six employees that are first-time homeowners because of what we're doing. That's more important to me than anything monetarily.

Hello, this is Gary Brown, founder of Boondocks Brewing here in West Jefferson, North Carolina up here in Ashe County.

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