CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS
20's IN THEIR 20s
FEATURED ARTICLE IN CRAINS
SHANNON LONG, 28
Founder and CEO, Brew Export LLC
Shannon Long is a globe-trotting, beer drinking, cosmopolitan woman of industry. At 28, she works with roughly 150 craft breweries in the U.S. to navigate international alcohol laws, supply chain channels, label requirements and exchange rates to get their product to events or pubs or shelves in 30 countries. Local clients include Griffin Claw, Ferndale Project, Eastern Market Brewing Co. and others.
Long’s Brew Export LLC was born out of an assignment in her international marketing capstone class at Michigan State University in 2014. Long chose to study and create a marketing plan for exporting beer to Singapore. She learned most U.S. craft brewers lacked any meaningful resources to distribute regionally, let alone across international borders. Her import-export niche landed her a $1,000 win at a local pitch competition and Brew Export was willed into existence.
“My parents wanted me to go the corporate route right after college and I think I did one job interview,” Long said. “I was bit by that business startup bug and all these breweries were getting interest from foreign markets but had no idea how to get their beer there. I knew I could connect the world through beer.”
At he same time she was launching Brew Export, Long founded a production company to co-produce, write and star in a local television show called Pure Brews America, which aired on CBS and ran for 20 episodes featuring 70 craft breweries across the U.S. The show, which was sponsored by Meijer, HopCat, the Michigan Brewers Guild and others, won a Michigan Emmy award in 2017.
In 2018, Brew Export fermented into a full-bodied firm, growing revenue from $90,000 to $800,000.
Long founded a wholly-owned subsidiary, Brew Export UK Ltd., in Scotland earlier this year and is working on a hard seltzer advent calendar — where for each of the 24 days, a new seltzer from around the U.S. is opened.
The company is still growing rapidly with Long predicting revenue to top $4 million in 2021. She’s looking to hire as many as five new employees this year to support that growth.
“I’d love to see Brew Export hubs around the world,” Long said. “I’m building out a team to show beer is one of the best representations of the United States. So many of these brewers started as home brewers and are family owned. They, like us, have a real entrepreneurial spirit. The beer is beautiful. The hops from Yakima Valley, the water from the Great Lakes, the yeast from California. It’s a beautiful product.”
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