Visit with Chris Cramer CEO of Karl Strauss

OK, OK, so I guess you are wondering how could a visit to a brewery be anything but great? Well, it is not just about the beer. You also have to look at who is making it, and what is the overall feeling you get about being there.

One of the first things you notice is that Chris Cramer, the CEO, is a man who enjoys what he is doing and Karl Strauss isn’t something that he fell into or ended up in by accident.

Chris is a self-described San Diego native who has grown up in the retail industry and Karl Strauss is an actual relative who came from a line of brew masters in Germany. Chris is also a graduate of Stanford’s MBA program, who back in 2000 when he graduated was thought to be an idiot for focusing on retail, especially micro brewing and food, and not some dot com business. After what followed in 2001-2002, I would guess these same pundits would claim he is a genius today.

I really like visiting a company where you can feel the positive energy. Everyone  at Strauss is smiling and looking like they genuinely enjoy their jobs. The only way this occurs is when the management team instills this type of feeling. Now the pessimists might conclude that of course they are smiling, they work at a beer company and are probably drinking all day! However, that is just not the case. Besides you might get away with that tactic for a little while, but not the 20 years they have been in business.

So, what is the take away? Well, investors always say we look at management teams and when you find one that is clearly passionate about what they are doing and just clicks, they are worth more than the technology or product they are pitching. And when they can energize the entire team to be just as passionate as they are and enjoy coming to work everyday, well you just know that success will follow.

If you are an entrepreneur just starting out, ask yourself if you express your passion every day and in every conversation. Do you have the ability to get everyone else who is involved in your venture as energized about the business as you are? If not, you have something you need to work on; sooner not later.

As for Chris and the team at Karl Strauss, there is no reason why they won’t be brewing a special lager in 2028 for their 40th Anniversary! Keep up the great work and let us all know when you finish your customer space for tours so that we can all come down and see where and how the magic happens.

Kudos to you and your team.

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1 Response to “Visit with Chris Cramer CEO of Karl Strauss”


  1. 1 Randy Witbracht April 8, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I completely concur with your article about Karl Strauss. My son Kyle has been with them as Manager of Training and Development for a little more than a year. Whenever he calls us or us him, he literally rants about what a sheer pleasure it is to work for this company. The people there are ALWAYS upbeat and look forward to getting up and coming to work every day. He’s the happiest we’ve ever seen and we’re very proud of him. It’s a rare treat to able to do what you love and to love where you work.


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