Fairbanks Daily News Miner 2/18/16
It is 3 p.m. and customers are already lining up outside Hoo Doo Brewing Company.
These customers don’t even know yet that HooDoo is one of 100 winners nationwide of the annual Dream Big Blue Ribbon Small Business Awards by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The company is being recognized for its success and contribution to America’s economic growth and vitality.
The company’s selection was based on judging of strategic planning, employee development, customer service and community involvement. “We were just contacted this morning,” said Paul Johnson, sales/operations manager and brewer.
His first reaction? “That is totally fantastic.” The company is owned by Bobby Wilken, who is currently out of state. “For us, it is about community and beer,” Johnson said. “It’s what we are passionate about.”
The brewery celebrates Octoberfest in the fall and Maifest, in the spring. HooDoo is even brewing a special beer for the upcoming Hockey Week celebration in Fairbanks.
“Beer is like food,” Johnson said. “It’s seasonal and our customer base is embracing it. The key for us is to maintain that relevance in the community.”
Although the owner grew up in Fairbanks, Johnson has lived here only five years. But it feels like home, he said. “Nobody knew me when I moved up here,” he said. “Within a couple years, everybody knows me.”
HooDoo Brewing Company has been open for three years and is a popular place to meet a friend and enjoy a beer or two. “It’s a great meeting place,” Johnson said. Johnson has a special memory of sitting at a table with owner Bobby Wilken shortly after opening. There were no customers and they wondered if they were doing the right thing. It’s pretty clear that they don’t have to worry about that any more.
“We have the faithful now,” he said. “The HooDoo Hooligans. They are definitely out there in force. They love the beer and they like the environment.” There is no television at Hoo-Doo, no gaming and no live music. There is just good beer and good people.
“We’ve been super fortunate to have people embrace us the way they have,” Johnson said.
Everything is on display here brewing the beer, filling the kegs, delivering the beer. “We put out a fantastic product and you can see what we are doing,” he said. “Nothing is hidden.”
On March 9, the U.S. Chamber will announce seven regional finalists from this list. All of the winners will be honored at the 12th annual America’s Small Business Summit, June 13-15 in Washington D.C. During the summit, one regional finalist will receive the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club, and a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the U.S. Chamber.
All of the businesses on the list are eligible for the Community Excellence Award, which recognizes one business that has found notable success in the eyes of its community. The winner of that award is decided through online public voting, from Feb. 18 through March 4.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer. com. Call her at the office 459-7546 or by cell 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.