John Squadrito, Sales Account Manager at Tigpro
Once the small team at Tigpro connected the dots between the dairy mixing tanks they were building and the brewing equipment in high demand from Maine’s exploding craft beer market, they threw themselves into becoming experts in fabricating the complicated systems. That was in 2010. Now, they’re welding for some of New England’s finest, like Jack’s Abby, Rising Tide and Baxter Brewing. A collaboration with a yet-to-be-named local brewer will let them build even more advanced, custom-tailored systems, and with two new fermentors for Funky Bow Brewery, they’ve increased their maximum-build capacity to 60 barrels. “I think that’s the fun and challenging part of it,” says John Squadrito, “the brewers educating us about styles of brewing, and us educating them on the process of building these beautiful stainless vessels.”
Tell me about Tigpro’s focus on the small brewer.
From day one of fabricating brewing equipment, we planned to focus on the smaller craft brewers, nano-micro. We are a small, 15- to 20-employee, local company, so we understand the different needs and obstacles some of our clients face. … We invite potential clients to visit us here in Portland to get the official tour of our production facility. We always want to create an honest and trusting relationship from the first handshake. If there’s no transparency, then why should our clients feel comfortable spending thousands of dollars with us? We also like to take new clients on a tour of breweries throughout Portland that we have done fabrication work in, followed by lunch at one of our favorite craft beer bars to see the product come full circle and see the success poured right into our pint glasses. …
I would consider it an achievement when we get a call from a client who says, “We are out of beer,” or “We can’t keep up with demand.” The 911 call, as we refer to it, that says it all. It’s a feeling of accomplishment, for sure. In a perfect world, we would love to be the original fabricator in a brewery where we assisted in their planning/start-up phases, then receiving the call down the road when they are in dire need of more capacity. We love to watch the evolution of these breweries from start-up to a reputable company with high demand for their brand. That feeling doesn’t get much better as a salesperson.
Any funny or interesting anecdotes from your work with brewers?
A couple months back, we designed and fabricated our first 40-bbl fermentor for Bissell Brothers Brewing. … They happen to be just a couple roads down, so it’s always fun to be able to deliver their tanks by forklift. Not this last one though. A few weeks before Christmas, we were provided a Santa suit from Peter Bissell and a challenge: Deliver the new FV 4, as we refer to it, in a Christmas kind of way. I had our office manager suit up and ride atop the fermentor on the back of a trailer while I stood in the bed of the truck and filmed as we drove through the industrial park with Santa waving to all the onlookers. The brewers aren’t the only ones allowed to have fun!
What advice can you offer to brewers just starting out?
The best advice I can offer to breweries just starting out is this: You can always grow into a larger tank. You can never make a tank larger to keep up with demand. When creating business plans, set realistic production goals and make sure your brewhouse can keep up. We can always build more fermentors for you! ■