The Unicorn: Where Craft Brewing And Accounting Meet

At the beginning of the year, we sat down to map out our personnel needs for 2020.

Based on our growth trajectory for the year, we knew we needed help. Especially so on the accounting and tax front in order to free up Chris for big-picture vision and relationship-building work with clients and partners.

Little did we know how valuable that decision would end up being.

And so soon after we kicked off the hiring process, we happened across Phil Schwab, our now Director of Accounting Operations.

phil holding beer

Equal parts accounting pro, team leader, and craft brewery founder, Phil is a unicorn combination of talents that fits like a glove with the ethos, mission, and culture here at SBS. 

In short, Phil has supercharged our team.

So I sat down with him to ask him about his experience with SBS so far. 

Here’s what he had to say.

When Beer And Accounting Merge

Tom: How did you find your way to SBS?

Phil: Numbers have always been my first passion. Before SBS I spent the majority of my career in accounting and finance for advertising agencies, and loved the process, the technology, and the people. Then in 2018, when we founded Trinity Forest Brewing in Dallas, TX I had the opportunity to explore and develop my other passions: small business and craft beer.

phil and trinity

But I always assumed those two aspects of my life would live separately. That was until I came across your job post earlier this year and had to do a double-take, because it seemed like it was tailor-made for me. After speaking with you, Chris, and the rest of the team it sealed the deal.

Tom: Which came first, beer or accounting?

Phil: Accounting. And it was helping out a friend with the numbers that led me to craft. Pretty soon though, I was knee deep in the brewing process and equipment, experimenting with homebrewing, loving the craft community… Now it all feels like second nature, but accounting was definitely the gateway. 

Tom: What is it about the craft industry that piques your interest the most?

Phil: The process of making beer is so easy to screw up and there’s definitely both science and art that goes into it. Having brewed my own little five gallon batches here and there, watching and learning from the professionals has been a big one for me.

But I think that the most important part of it, or the thing that keeps me coming back and going deeper down the rabbit hole, is the community. It’s hit an all time high for me this year with COVID and seeing how everyone has come together to support each other.

Small Batch Culture

Tom: What were your initial impressions of how we do things here at SBS? What’s your assessment now that you’ve integrated with the team?

Phil: I mean first off, the team is just fantastic and has built up such a solid body of knowledge, even among those who didn’t come from the craft industry. The high quality work and service that comes out of these folks, it’s very advanced.

Also seeing the work get done either on time or ahead of time immediately stood out. In my past work, deadlines did not necessarily receive as much of a priority as they should have. So to see both the quality of the work the team delivers and the consistency that we do it with is something I’m proud to be a part of.

Overall, my expectations have been blown out of the water. I was talking with Michelle (another new hire like myself) earlier in the week and we were both saying, “Is this really work!?” I’m enjoying the hell out of it.

beer pictures
I mean… with updates like these on our weekly team thread, how could you not?

Tom: What are your thoughts on how we handle remote work?

Phil: I absolutely love it. I could talk forever on this topic. 

Not everyone is built for remote work, and not everyone enjoys remote work, but for the people that do, I think you can get just exponentially more work done when you have a little bit more flexibility in terms of your calendar.  Not having to drive to an office, let alone the typical office interruptions and meetings throughout the day, having that time added back is a game changer. 

My entire career I’ve always kept very stringent timesheets. It’s very status quo in most accounting departments and CPA firms to track and charge by the hour. So going to a no-timesheet environment with fixed pricing for clients was liberating. When you don’t have to think about tracking and billing, you can put all of your focus into the quality of work, how you’re doing it, and the overall well-being of that client. So yeah, that’s been a great, great change.

Deep Successful Relationships

Tom: So speaking of clients, what has your experience been like with our clients? What do those relationships look like so far?

Phil: My experience with our clients so far has been overwhelmingly positive. They work hard, make great products, and are obsessed with making their businesses successful. Both with my time at Trinity Forest and with SBS, it’s clear here’s a certain type of person that this industry attracts, and that group, in my experience, tend to be very cool people to work with.

trinity forest can
Image via Trinity Forest Brewing.

Overall they’re a big part of what makes this all feel less like work, and more like building something together. Things are more conversational, less transactional, and that works out better for everyone involved.

Tom: From your perspective, what should brewery owners and operators expect when they interact with you and the accounting team for the first time?

Phil: Pretty much regardless of who they were working with before, I think coming into  an engagement with Small Batch Standard should feel like a breath of fresh air. We’re all speaking the same language from Day 1.

From the initial meeting with Chris, to the proposal, to their experience with Derek and Chris on the first onboarding call… everything is set up so that they don’t feel like they’re just another number. The rapport with our team is almost immediate. And that’s primarily because of our team’s understanding of the craft industry.

You can learn more and connect with Phil here.

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