July 18, 2011
Terrapin Beer Company was born when two brewers, Brian "Spike" Buckowski and John Cochran, met while working together at a microbrewery in Atlanta. Terrapin introduced its first beer, the Rye Pale Ale in April of 2002. Six months later, only available on draft in Athens, Terrapin’s sole offering won the American Pale Ale Gold Medal at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival. Today, the nine-year-old company has a 40,000-square-foot brewing facility in Athens and employs 30 people.
With all of the beer company’s success, the two business partners had built the brand to a point where they could attract investors. In 2006, they were finally able to open their brewery in Athens. As the business grew, Buckowski and Cochran favored investing in the brand’s rapid growth but experienced philosophical differences with their investment group.
Rob Ginn, a strategic business manager with Georgia’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, assisted Buckowski and Cochran with filling the company’s empty board seat and locating appropriate legal counsel. He also helped them with reviewing and finally closing on an investment contract that allowed the two founders to buy out the original investment group while retaining the equity they had developed in the company.
- Remains an independent brewery after receiving a loan from Miller-owned Tenth and Blake Beer Co.
- Currently produces 18,000 barrels of beer annually, equal to $5 million in sales
- Undergoing a $3.2 million capital expansion plan
“With the help of Georgia MEP and Rob Ginn, we managed to buy out our original investors – they got a great return on their investment and we did well for ourselves. We own the entire company again,” said John Cochran, founder and president. “Our goal is to be the best brewer in the southeast.”