Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Born to Go into Business Beer Distributor, 25, Schooled by Parents Who Operate a Catering Firm in California; He Says He Consults Them on a Daily Basis

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Born to Go into Business Beer Distributor, 25, Schooled by Parents Who Operate a Catering Firm in California; He Says He Consults Them on a Daily Basis

Article excerpt

Shane Lohman didn't exactly dream of opening a beer distributor as a child, but he always knew he wanted to run his own business.

"I grew up around it, and knew I wanted to have my own company," said Mr. Lohman, 25, whose parents run a catering company based in El Segundo, Calif. "They were a huge help to me, with how to handle the day-to-day things. I still get advice from them on a daily basis."

He started Lohman's Beer in the Wexford section of Franklin Park three years ago, serving three wholesale customers, after learning the ropes working at Shaw's Beer Distributing in Crafton. His business has 25 customers today, which includes dive bars and fine restaurants. In addition to handling wholesale orders, Lohman's has a retail store.

The company has grown from one employee to five, and has increased sales year over year: The first month in business, November 2011, the company did about $21,000 in sales; last November, sales came in between $140,000 and $150,000, Mr. Lohman said.

The top things he learned from his parents were in regard to growth: "If growth comes, don't deny it because you think you can't handle it," he said.

"They told me, 'You take the account and figure out a way to handle it. We had a big order about a year ago and, instead of turning it down because of the volume, we bought a new truck.'"

That truck cost $40,000 and he's still making payments, but it turned out to be a sound investment.

"It was the first wake-up call that we needed it, and it's allowed us to handle a lot of bigger orders," he said.

Running a beer distributor in Pennsylvania is unlike running other kinds of small businesses, Mr. Lohman discovered, due in large part to the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

He made a few rookie mistakes starting out.

"It can be constricting, the minutiae of things you have to know," he said. "You have to do research before you can advertise, because you can't send out coupons and things like that - things that another small business starting out would do to get the word out. …

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