Iron Hill Brewery is About to Grow at Hyper Speed

Armed with a new investor, its CEO says 25 locations by 2020 is a possibility.

Iron Hill Brewery‘s already lightning-fast expansion is about to hit another gear. The company announced on Friday that it struck a deal with investment firm A&M Capital Opportunities. Armed with fresh capital, Iron Hill is eyeing a massive expansion plan with locations across the Eastern seaboard.

Iron Hill currently has 11 locations with a 12th coming soon to Huntingdon Valley, Pa. President and CEO Kevin Finn said the company had its sights set on 20 locations by 2020 but now says “the goal is to accelerate that and do it more efficiently.”

“It was probably a stretch goal a year ago, but now we think it could be 25 by 2020,” he said in an interview on Friday. Over the next few years the business will continue to focus on its “core market” of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware but plans to expand that range to other states in later years.

Where to after Huntingdon Valley? Finn wouldn’t say but said he’s eyeing markets like Pittsburgh, Central New Jersey, Baltimore and Washington D.C. — although no plans have been announced in any of those areas.

When an Iron Hill comes to a neighborhood, it’s generally seen as a big positive. It’s a place that seems accessible to just about everybody — from the folks having a business meeting to the bros getting hammered on a Saturday night. But it’s been a strategic push — you don’t see Iron Hill’s popping up in crowded city neighborhoods, but rather suburban towns like Media or Chestnut Hill, giving people a seemingly more authentic option than a corporate chain restaurant.

But is Iron Hill turning into a corporate chain restaurant before our very eyes? Finn says no.

“It all comes down to culture,” he said. “We spent a lot of time in last five years building a really strong culture. A company I like to emulate is Trader Joe’s. People that work there love it, and it’s a big company. If you have a great culture, it doesn’t matter how big you are. The challenge is having a great culture when you’re big.”

Finn wouldn’t disclose financial details of the deal or what percentage of the business will be owned by A&M, but did say that smaller partners that helped launch the business (like family and friends) were bought out. As part of the deal, Drew Baird and Paul Lattanzio, the founding partners of AMCO, will join Iron Hill’s board of directors.

“We had many offers over the years but we liked this particular group because of the expertise they were able to bring to table,” said Finn. “It always comes down to people. They’ve worked with restaurant groups but also with growth companies. They’ll help us get to from point A to point B faster — and with less mistakes.”

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