Yorkshire festive focus: Mark Stredwick, Brewtown Brewery Tours
As Christmas is only weeks away, and the businesspeople of Yorkshire are preparing to hang up their stockings, Bdaily is catching up with the region’s business leaders to reflect on the highlights of 2016 and how they plan on spending the holiday period.
For the series’ next instalment, we are speaking with Mark Stredwick, the founder of Brewtown Brewery Tours, which launched in Yorkshire in November this year.
What were the three biggest highlights for your business in 2016?
Firstly, setting up a business and getting it off the ground. When everyone said it was going to be hard work and take up every minute of my life, I didn’t appreciate how right they were!
Secondly, the positive response to my idea. It isn’t original - I’ve seen it done in the USA and Australia - but I can’t find anyone else in the UK offering my product. There are similar ideas, but on an occasional basis rather than full time.
And thirdly, running my first tour. I was nervous before I met the customers but, as we started to chat, I realised just how much fun this business is going to be. I enjoyed myself, the customers enjoyed themselves and so did the brewers.
What are your business’ goals going into 2017?
I’m aiming to have 900 guests come on tours in 2017. If I get 1,000 I’ll be over the moon. Also, my sisters want me to start doing gin tasting tours. It would be good to get that started by Easter.
Anything you/your business would have done differently over the past year?
Looking back, I should have found out all of the legalities, paperwork and red tape involved in setting up a bus company on day one.
However, if I had done that, it might have put me off! Time management and task prioritising are also very important as a one man band. I quickly learned that I can’t do everything in one day.
Why do you think Yorkshire is a great place to do business?
The people are so proud and passionate about all things Yorkshire. Look at how many pubs sell locally made beer from smaller breweries rather than from the big chains.
They realise that there are high quality, locally made products out there and they want to buy them and champion them. That’s what Brewtown Tours is all about, too.
Any other company/companies in the region stand out for you?
I was very fortunate to find The Partners Group, United by Design and See Green, who have helped me get the business off the ground. They’re all York-based companies that embraced Brewtown Tours and myself with open arms.
I would like to think that the passion and enthusiasm they showed was down to my charming, convivial nature, but in reality it was probably down to the fact that I am in the beer tourism industry.
What does Yorkshire want to see happen in the future/next year?
I’ve been spending a lot of time on the roads in Yorkshire over the last six months, and some investment in the transport infrastructure wouldn’t go amiss!
What individual goals did you achieve personally/professionally in 2016?
Firstly, returning to the UK after 16 years in Australia was a big personal adjustment. Not just the lifestyle, but also saying goodbye to many friendships. Secondly, buying a property and moving to York. And finally, getting a business off the ground in six months (I thought it would take 10 weeks – I’ll admit it now, I was tad naïve!).
How to you unwind after a stressful day at work?
Well I am in the beer industry, so I do find myself sampling produce from the breweries I am doing business with. Purely for research purposes, of course. Spending time with my young nephews also brings me back to reality pretty quickly.
What would be the perfect Christmas gift for you?
Some heated socks. This is my first winter back in the UK, I’m frozen already and winter has only just begun!
To feature in our Yorkshire festive focus series, contact Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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