Column by Isaac Showaki
The beverage industry is always evolving – transforming and reinventing itself every day. Since Octopi’s inception, we’ve adapted to market trends and met the growing needs of our clients by implementing a gradual approach to expansion. New opportunities bring new challenges, and to be successful, we’ve remained resilient to stay relevant in the industry.
We recently completed Octopi’s largest expansion project to date, totaling nearly $70 million. In addition, we are anticipating adding over 150 new jobs in the next five years. The goal of the expansion was to place our beverage operations in a larger facility that can house new equipment and give us more production capabilities.
While growth is exciting, the process is long and strenuous especially because of the unique obstacles inherent in the beverage industry with frequent shifts in consumer demand and trends. For example, over the last decade, we’ve gone from the craft-beer boom to the seltzer craze and now to low abv / non alc beverages. Each of these has very different production needs in terms of space and equipment.
We spent hundreds of hours in upfront planning, researching and forecasting trends to successfully achieve the desired outcome not only for tomorrow, but for the next five to 10 years. We needed to be nimble, but also careful to not react too quickly to trends and over expand.
During the process, we worked with many different financing partners that invested in Octopi. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation helped us to secure grants and funds that supported the expansion, equipment and workforce needs. A big benefit of doing business in Wisconsin is the state has the lowest beer tax in the nation.
After months of securing funding and locking in our finances, we hit a roadblock with the supply chain – which we anticipated. Due to the unknowns of supply chain delays and new equipment arrivals, our timeline was pushed back. However, this issue was much less impactful because of our location. Many of our suppliers and manufactures for raw materials, packaging materials, and equipment are in Wisconsin. This helped tremendously to keep the project moving and work with us to work on the new schedule.
The same applies to staffing. We had a slower start during our hiring process initially, but Wisconsin’s workforce is a hub of skilled manufacturing talent. Another great benefit of operating in this state.
While we spent years planning and executing this expansion, we’ve already begun planning for the next phase. Staying on top of market trends and the needs of our clients has made us a front runner in co-packaging and the beverage industry, and we have no plans to stop now.