A strategy is not a solution until it is implemented.

Benchmarking Manufacturing Performance

We were asked by a global “top ten” brewer to identify opportunities to improve operational effectiveness, ensure better utilization of assets and reduce manufacturing costs at their 16 plants. We benchmarked their internal key performance indicators (KPIs) against our own index of global best practices.

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Brewery Technical Support For Major Brewer

First Key worked with a major brewing company operating breweries with capacities in the range of 1 to 5 million hl/yr, to enhance the quality and stability of their beers and improve process yields. Improvement goals were reached for beer foam and flavour stability, beer...

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Lead Design For a 2 Million hL/yr. Brewery

First Key was engaged to act as the Owner’s Representative to design and coordinate all aspects of the process facility. This included conceptual layouts, the development of flowsheets and specifications, basic and detailed engineering, tender lists, review and selection recommendations and managing design interfaces, through...

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Building Sustainable Operations for the Future

A US Top 10 craft brewery decided to take a comprehensive look at their operations and supply chain to analyze how they could “raise the bar” on their performance. They considered partnering with one of the big management consulting firms but chose First Key because...

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Facility Master Plans for Top 10 Brewer

First Key developed 10-year Facility Master Plans with a focus on enhancing the client’s brewing, packaging, utilities, manufacturing systems and warehouse capabilities to best-in-class through an incremental capital investment program. We reviewed existing facilities and the client’s 10-year volume and sales forecasts, as well as...

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Build and Lead an Alcohol Academy Training Program for a Multinational Beverage Corporation

A multinational beverage corporation, in business for over 120 years, asked First Key to design and lead a 12-session alcohol training programme focused on the global alcohol beverage industry and landscape. A team of First Key subject matter experts worked together to build the program...

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Operations Assessment and Improvement Plan

First Key successfully produced a detailed operations assessment and improvement plan for a 1 million hL/yr brewery. The assignment included an assessment of the physical plant, manufacturing cost structure, organization structure, financial analysis and projections, operations benchmarking, and identification of opportunities for improvement. The technical...

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Process Design for New Beer Transfer Routes

A leading national brewing company operating 5 plants across the country required process design/engineering for the integration of specific processes needed for the production of new beer brands. The project involved integrating new beer transfer routes into existing automated processes while removing bottlenecks from existing...

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Network Optimization Tool

First Key developed a network flow model with over 1500 variables and delivered a comprehensive “modeling tool” for optimizing beer production volumes and product mix with optimal alignment of beer supply between breweries and company owned restaurants. The optimization tool determined the lowest delivered cost...

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Production Facility Revamp to Produce RTDs for Top 50 US Craft Brewer

First Key was tasked with supporting a brewery to quickly determine needed infrastructure, equipment upgrades, and necessary process changes, to meet a goal of achieving large-scale RTD production – which subsequently would fulfill their objective of supplying a large national grocery store chain with the...

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Brewery Operation Cost Analysis for USA Brewery with Two Locations

First Key was asked to assess and analyze brewery operational costs for a US beer company with two production locations. First Key worked with the client to develop a clear, overall picture of standard costs and actual variable costs by each brand and SKU.

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New Craft Brewery Business Plan

First Key produced a comprehensive business plan with a market, technical and financial assessments for a new craft brewery. The assessment included arranging tours in craft breweries for stakeholder reference; defining product portfolio, packaging ratios, distribution practices and potential sales volumes; brewery design and layout,...

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Process Engineering for New RTD Capability in Existing Infrastructure

A global top 5 brewer decided to enter the ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage segment in one of its key country markets and needed to install the process technology and production capacity on a fast-track schedule. The selected facility was a 3 million hL/yr brewery that required...

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Redesign of Distribution Network

The main objectives of the project were to produce a 7-year investment plan for optimizing the distribution network as well to improve service levels and reduce costs for a Latin American client. First Key delivered a process design to quickly identify root causes of material...

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Purchasing Optimization

By benchmarking the client’s product and services purchasing against best-in-class and identifying cost gaps, First Key was able to come up with a new purchasing strategy and action plan that Identified potential savings for the client in excess of $1.5 million from annual direct material...

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New Bottling Line

With a highly time sensitive client requirement, First Key was engaged to engineer, execute, project management, install and commission a fully functional bottle line capable of producing 6, 12, and 24 packages for two bottle types. We successfully delivered the line on a fast-track schedule...

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Operations Technical Review & Capacity Planning for Growth of Farmhouse Brewery

First Key was engaged to an assignment with a Belgian-Inspired Farmhouse Brewery with the goal to enhance the productivity and efficiency of its brewing operations. Work began with a current-state analysis on-site to better understand existing process management, capacity bottlenecks, and production planning/scheduling methods. Through...

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Foam Quality and Consistency Improvement Project

First Key was engaged by a 4-year old craft brewery experiencing strong growth, with the goal of helping to improve quality and consistency. Foam quality, as well as other factors such as yeast/fermentation health and flavor quality were a focus of the engagement. Through an...

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Craft Brewery Expansion Project

A fast-growing craft brewery that was acquired by a major brewing company required technical and engineering services to plan and execute an expansion. First Key assisted the client in devising the plan for expanding capacity at the craft brewery and provided AutoCAD drawings for future...

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Brewery Relocation

First Key was instrumental in the relocation of a 1 million hL/yr facility from the United Kingdom to China. We were appointed as the agent to sell the brewery and then engaged as project and construction managers for de-commissioning, crating, and shipping the plant for...

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Environmental Audit

First Key conducted phase 1 environmental audits at 3 breweries that ranged in capacity from 0.75 to 1.5 million hL/yr. Work consisted of visiting each brewery, discussions with local engineering staff coupled with a visual inspection of the facility and surrounding property and a review...

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Operational Assessment of Packaging Line Efficiency for a Top 20 US Craft Brewer

An established leader in the US craft brewing industry for over 35 years - that sells beer across most of the country -requested the expertise of First Key to assess and offer improvement recommendations for their dual bottle and can packaging line, with the goal...

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Quality Improvement Program for Association of 30 Breweries

First Key developed a quality improvement program that included sensory evaluation (taste panel), lab analysis and an on-site process / operational review. A scorecard of taste / lab / process results vs. best practice was produced with recommendations developed jointly by each brewery and First...

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Warehouse Operations Study

First Key was engaged by a global top 5 brewing company to review the finished goods and packaging warehouses at one of its largest breweries. The engagement included identifying changes to the operations in order to align with the company’s strategic 10-year goals, identify potential...

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Technical Feasibility For Production of New Beverages

A national brewery looking to diversify their beverage offerings engaged First Key to analyze the capital requirements to produce new beverages within their existing brewery. The project included a visual inspection of the current operation, an engineering feasibility study, preliminary layouts showing major equipment and...

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Malt Strategy for Major Brewing Company

First Key developed a malt strategy for a regional brewer with operations in 9 countries. The project involved the review of alternative procurement strategy models, recommendations and the preparation for discussions with suppliers. Included was a review of the existing operations, preparation of audit documents...

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Brewhouse Capacity Increase

A 3 million hL/yr brewery required increased capacity for a portion of its brewhouse (hot wort transfer/throughput increase) in order to maximize the overall capacity of their brewhouse. First Key worked with suppliers and made recommendations for equipment modifications and equipment additions to facilitate the...

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Assessment of European Brewery Investment

First Key provided an independent assessment of the brewery’s business and operations from the perspective of a strategic buyer. We were given one month to complete a wide range of deliverables including a plant inspection, capacity assessment, capital expenditure plan, management and IT assessment, divisional...

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Independent Valuation Opinion

On behalf of a minority shareholder, First Key provided an objective assessment of the fair market value of their interest in the brewery for comparison to the Company’s offer price. The assignment was structured into two phases. The first phase included a critique of the...

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Marketing Review & Brand Strategy Assessment for Regional Brewery

A regional brewery having received multiple medals in national competitions for their beers focused on light lagers, engaged First Key to help them to identify opportunities to grow sales through reviewing brand strategy, presentation, promotion, and general marketing efforts. First Key consultants visited both the...

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Brewing Operations Training for US Craft Brewery

A craft brewery based in the USA that prides itself on being family-owned while also using local ingredients and resources, asked First Key for brewery operations training and coaching support; this included assistance in areas such as improving their standard operations procedures, production scheduling, quality...

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Independent Advisor to Governmental Organization on Craft Alcohol Production Practices

A government authority engaged First Key to play the role of a third-party auditor; the work comprised of reviewing and updating an application package, a Commercial Permittee Manual and Terms, Quality Assurance Guide, and Liquor Inspector job description. The First Key team assigned to this...

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Feasibility Study for a Brewpub

The study involved commercial, technical and business plan components. The commercial review covered market opportunities to determine scale of operation. In the technical assessment we developed the design for the brewery operation including facility requirements for offices and quality control labs. We provided a room...

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Recruiting Assignment for CEO Position

First Key was selected for a recruiting assignment by a fast-growing top craft brewery needing to fill a CEO position. Through the First Key network and sister company, Brewingwork.com which has a database of over 30k candidates, First Key was able to find the right...

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Highly Innovative New Product Development

First Key was instrumental in the development of a highly innovative new beer style. When the client’s test batches were not performing as anticipated, we re-evaluated the client’s recipes and identified workarounds, while still maintaining the original vision for the new product. Test batches for...

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Hard Seltzer Product Development

A start-up company engaged First Key to develop a unique hard seltzer product for the UK market. First Key’s work included developing the base liquid recipe, conducting trial brews and providing guidance in arranging contract brewing in the UK. Unique challenges involved adjusting recipe parameters...

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Development of Relocation Plan for an Established Brewery

A craft brewery in an iconic neighborhood – which is also home to two other brewpubs – engaged First Key to support in identifying the detailed requirements of relocation from a location that had been leased and in operation for over 30 years. One important...

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Award-Winning Product Development

First Key worked with a new start-up brewery to develop the initial comprehensive profiles for their target beer styles. Our First Key brewmaster then created the beer recipes, complete with the raw materials and process parameters, incorporating the key characteristics desired for each product. Pilot...

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Investment Study for a Malt Plant in Asia

First Key evaluated a proposed investment strategy for a malt plant in Asia. The study included analysis of the country’s beer market & the malt supply/demand balance; general considerations on investment in the country; and usual terms for contractual relationships and mode of relationships. First...

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Equipment Selection

Based on brewery need, First Key selected all equipment required for a start-up brewery, including all production, packaging, supporting and utility equipment. We prepared the technical and performance specifications, managed the bidding process, selected vendors, and negotiated, reviewed and finalized all purchase agreements. For the...

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Cannabis Beverage Capacity Plan

A fast-growing beverage company looking to develop, sell and distribute a portfolio of best-in-class cannabis beverage products hired First Key to develop the capacity growth strategy to meet the company’s short and long-term growth sales forecast. The project required analysis of changes in operational...

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Talent Search for a Senior Supply Chain Leader at a Top 50 Craft Brewer

A top 50 US craft brewery engaged First Key to help them find a talented senior Supply Chain leader to join their team. They were in the midst of redesigning certain operational job responsibilities that would consequently reshape their organizational chart; therefore, this confidential search...

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Technical Due Diligence for a Major Craft Brewery Acquisition

First Key performed a high-level technical due diligence assessment on a top-50 craft brewer on behalf of a global private equity firm. The due diligence project involved an on-site assessment, interviews and questionnaires with key brewery personnel that validated current brewery capacity, identified bottlenecks, evaluated...

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Process Engineering

The assignment included layout plans for 6 million hL/yr and conceptual study, master plan, preliminary and detailed process design and contract development for the initial 2 million hL/yr greenfield installation. First Key delivered design for automated process areas including combi-cellar, yeast room, bright beer cellar,...

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Refrigeration Audit and Recommendations Study

A Latin American client with 4 breweries ranging in sizes from 3.5 million to 6 million hL/yr called upon First Key to conduct a refrigeration audit and to come up with recommendations. The client required a visual inspection of each plant, comments on safety issues,...

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Distribution Modeling Study

First Key undertook a distribution modeling study to evaluate shifting production of beer products from an existing network of breweries to another network of breweries in different locations. A distribution model was developed that assigned beer production to each source location; as well as the...

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Integrated Hops, Barley and Grain Processing Facility

To address New York State’s Farm Brewery requirement of 90% in-state ingredients by 2023, the client engaged First Key to complete a feasibility study which was funded in part by New York’s Chautauqua County, Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency and local foundations. The study demonstrated...

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Operational Leadership for Cannabis Beverage Company

After providing the overall capacity plan for a manufacturing facility for a global beverage company looking to develop, sell and distribute a portfolio of best-in-class cannabis beverage products, First Key was asked to lead the operations on an interim basis. This included overcoming various issues...

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Strategic Malt Study for Major Malt Supplier

A comprehensive strategic analysis of the malt supply chain in three major global regions was conducted for a major malt supplier. The analysis included consumption trends, malt trade flows, players and malt capacities, planned expansions, and expected malt supply / demand balance in key end...

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Energy Audit

First Key provided a comprehensive written report that involved the inspection of current systems and operational and maintenance procedures. The audit included recommendations for energy efficiencies and operational improvements, updated maintenance procedures, cost estimates and estimated payback for improvements along with operator training.

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Automated CIP System at Global Spirits Company

A global spirits company required the design and integration of an automated CIP system for vessel and line cleaning throughout the fermentation cellar. First Key developed the total system design by selecting and procuring all valves, heat exchangers, pumps, and non-instrumentation equipment. First Key...

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Business Plan and Feasibility Study

A successful brewpub operator planning to build a new craft brewery and expand into the retail packaged beer market called on First Key to draw up an expansion strategy and feasibility study to be presented to potential investors. This included development of a preliminary plant...

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Market Entry Strategy Study

We helped develop a market entry strategy study for a client looking to enter the beer market in an overseas country. First Key conducted a detailed analysis of the country’s policies, regulations, and standards for imported beer, and examined the beer market seasonality, segments, and...

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Guidebook Development Project for a National Craft Brewers Association

First Key was engaged by a national brewers association to support their membership on the implementation of new labeling requirements from a national food inspection agency. First Key was asked to provide their technical expertise in developing a guide to help explain the new requirements...

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Audit of Malting Facilities and Operations

The objective of the audit was to assess four plants on two levels, to maintain them in a functional state to achieve a best practice standard for malt production. First Key reported on each plant covering all parts of the process and key equipment including...

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Lauter Tun Upgrade

A regional brewer with approximately 500,000 hL/yr production capacity required capital project support for a lauter tun upgrade with minimal downtime. First Key conducted site visits and meetings with a major equipment supplier and provided technical integration coordination with all consultants and contractors. First Key...

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Craft Brewery Technical/Operations Assessment

First Key conducted a 4-day on-site review of the craft brewery and provided the business owners with a detailed report and “road map” for improving process management, quality, and operating systems and procedures. Comment was provided on condition of process equipment, the immediate improvement requirements;...

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Expansion Planning for Brewing Company with Four Locations

A team of First Key consultants conducted a site visit and meetings with brewery ownership, management, and operations team members to understand the brewery’s current state, as well as any constraints and unique challenges to develop an expansion plan. The objective for the plan was...

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Refrigeration Evaluation

First Key performed a visual inspection of the ammonia refrigeration system, reviewed drawings and commented on code and safety issues, condition of refrigeration equipment, and immediate requirements, short term and long term requirements. We completed an energy audit of the refrigeration system and provided recommendations...

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New Craft Brewery

We consulted on all elements leading towards the launch of a new brewery. On the commercial side, First Key led the development of the brand strategy; corporate identity, public relations and on-site strategies; developed a comprehensive sales strategy; and created a multi-platform digital media strategy.

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Refrigeration Audit For a Top 10 Craft Brewer

First Key was engaged by a Top 10 craft brewery to perform a refrigeration capacity audit. A tour of the existing facilities was conducted to review existing infrastructure and potential areas for expansion. First Key worked with equipment vendors to validate capacities of individual...

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Standard Operating Procedures for Regional Craft Brewery

A fast-growing regional craft brewery engaged First Key to develop their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which involved performing a gap analysis against a list of critical SOPs provided by First Key, writing new SOPs, and aligning the brewery with best practice. First Key trained the...

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Opportunity Assessment Project for Craft Brewery

First Key successfully delivered an Opportunity Assessment project for a craft brewery. The project identified opportunities to enhance sales and revenues, while controlling costs in four areas of review: brewery technical, organization, distribution and marketing & sales. Site visits were conducted along with the client...

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Recruiting a VP of Manufacturing for a Regional Brewing Company

First Key worked for a regional brewing company with three locations to find the right person for their VP of Manufacturing position. The company required the right level of experience and expertise and was particularly interested in finding the correct cultural fit for their organization.

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Market Evaluation for Malting Expansion

First Key was engaged to deliver a market evaluation for a European malting company that was considering expansion. The goal was to develop an understanding of domestic and international market characteristics, scale and opportunities, and deliver a comprehensive Market Evaluation for the capacity increase. First...

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Hard Seltzer Development and Commercial Scale-Up for South Asia Brewery

A brewing and beverage company based in South Asia for over 20 years, asked for guidance in the development, scale-up and start-up of commercial production for multiple hard seltzer varieties. The project work by First Key included developing their hard seltzer base, as well as...

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Engineering Conceptual Design for Integrating New Beverage Processes into Existing Operation

First Key completed the conceptual engineering design for adding a new beverage process into the operations of a national brewery. The project included process equipment layouts, preliminary P&IDs, general piping layouts, cost estimates, building modification inputs and timelines for implementation.

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Independent Opinions

First Key has a solid track record for providing independent assessments and opinions for asset valuations, acquisition targets, capital budgets, marketing strategy, company performance and other industry related issues. Clients have included major brewing companies, investment partners, financial institutions, development funds and entrepreneurial groups.

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Commercial and Technical Services For New Brewery

From the drawing board to final completion. We began with a detailed business plan, and built a brand and sales strategy for the brewery. This included defining the brand, package design, development of marketing and advertising campaigns, brand execution strategy, creating sales management systems and...

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CIP System Upgrade

A large national brewer required process engineering support for CIP system upgrades in one of its major plants operating with 4 million hL/yr capacity. The original piping system was not set up to easily facilitate alternate CIP processes. First Key provided process design/engineering for integration...

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Brewery Investment Study

The assignment required an assessment of the current performance and future prospects for the Russian beer market and its major competitors; a capex/capacity review/audit of 2 existing plants and one plant acquisition target for the brewery in question; and an assessment of their market growth...

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Business Plan for Launching a New Contract Craft Brand

The project comprised of an assessment of the opportunity with pricing and cost models, capital requirements, product and packaging specifications, potential co-packers, forecasts and margins. Included was the development of a distribution model and negotiate and draft a production co-pack agreement that identified the responsibilities...

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Brand Acquisition and/or Licensing Strategy Study

The assignment included an assessment of the acquisition environment with strategic marketing and operational consideration for the fit with our client’s business in order to increase volume for a client operating significantly below capacity. First Key held confidential discussions with brand owners, and delivered a...

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Market Analysis for New Craft Brewery

The study included pre-analysis of the national and state beer markets, including size, dynamics, trends, channels, package mix, per capita consumption, pricing, distribution, seasonality, demographics, employment and ethnicity. During the study, First Key visited numerous retail and on-premise accounts, conducted distributor interviews and gathered extensive...

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Commercial Development Strategy for New Craft Brewery

Building on market research, First Key conducted strategic planning sessions with the client to develop nearly every aspect of the commercial plan for a new craft brewery. Areas of focus included brand development, corporate identity and alignment, creative development, execution strategy, public relations, the on-site...

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Beer Technical Review and Assessment for a US-based Craft Brewery

A craft brewery that operates both a taproom as well as distributes their beer to their local market, requested the expertise of First Key to complete a comprehensive review and evaluation of their beers, including their processes, beer styles/recipes, staffing, and equipment operation, as well...

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Quality Management System (QMS)

A Quality Management System review was produced for a large multi-plant brewing company in Eastern Europe. The two-stage assignment initially required a prerequisite review of existing brand liquids acceptance in the marketplace, coupled with process / recipe alterations (liquid portfolio management). The second stage focused...

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Director of Brewery Operations Recruiting Assignment

A start-up brewery was looking to fill a key role and turned to First Key for their hiring needs. The process started with identifying the requirements for the position and then moved to the search. Through an effective outreach into the First Key network, a...

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Expert Witness

A number of First Key consultants have served as expert witnesses on a variety of industry related cases in North America, Europe and Asia.

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Investment Evaluation Study

The assignment required an assessment of the political and economic environment and distribution channels in the country for a 10 million hL/yr brewing company. It also entailed a complete marketing, technical, operations and financial due diligence on the acquisition company. First Key delivered a “complete...

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Packaging Audit

First Key was tasked with the job to improve productivity and cost efficiencies for a 1.2 million hL/yr operation involving a complex mix of bottle, can, PET and keg sizes for beer, soft drinks and malt. This involved an evaluation of current line layouts, capacities,...

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Capital Project Upgrade for Distillery

A global spirits company needed to replace a cooling tower at one of their distilleries in North America. The project included engineering services to complete a feasibility study for internal funding approval. First Key validated existing drawings and verified the current cooling tower water users,...

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New Brewpub

The project included recommending equipment suppliers, acquire supporting equipment and supplies, acquire brewing materials, organize lab and lab equipment, formulate beer recipes, brewing trials and beer development with beer samples, startup and commissioning of brewery equipment in conjunction with equipment suppliers and local trades, hire...

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Independent Project Assessment for Major Investment Bank

The assignment was to provide a critical assessment of the company’s proposed investment plan, its effectiveness and compatibility with existing operations/infrastructure, and the company’s ability to implement its development plan in a cost-effective and timely manner. By critically assessing the technical risks and opportunities presented...

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Strategic Advisor to University Brewing Program

A major university in the USA asked First Key to be their strategic advisors to develop a brewing business certificate program and put it into action. First Key worked with the university to chart a vision for the program and then advised on curriculum development,...

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Industry Advisor to Governments

First Key consults to various government authorities with respect to antitrust/competition, regulation and policy, and other industry related matters.

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