Part II of the Product Library Team’s industry education coupled with internal group collaboration took us on two more Chicago area excursions. Rachel takes us through the greening and community building ethos of Method factory, while Alison provides the recipe for a relaxing craft beer sampling at Lagunitas Brewery
Rachel Kirchner – Method factory tour; Historic Pullman neighborhood of Chicago
It is always exciting for me when I have the opportunity to connect to a product on a more personal level. Be it through meeting an employee of a company, or learning something new about a company’s mission, what better connection could there be than seeing how the product is made?
Method is a manufacturer of environmentally friendly cleaning products from laundry detergents to hand soaps. In April 2015, the company opened a new factory in the south-side Chicago Historic Pullman neighborhood. The property contains a peculiar blend of scenery. Beyond the perimeter, elements of area history mingle with a classic urban landscape. The property’s front hosts a developing prairie full of native plants. The factory itself is filled with natural sunlight and the entire building sports vivid colors inside and out, with space remaining for future development.
The green of Method goes beyond the landscape and extends to the technologies utilized throughout the property.
- Energy needs – 30% from renewables and running at 50% of normal requirements – are met through a wind turbine generating electricity and solar panels that rotate with the sun supplying a 120 gallon hot water heater.
- 75,000 square foot rooftop greenhouse – the largest in the world – in partnership with Gotham Greens
- The factory is designed so the entire production process can take place exclusively there, from manufacturing, to bottling, to distribution – removing 1,000 miles from the supply chain.
Factory placement is in an area where the unemployment rate is nearly 4 times that of Chicago. Method hires predominantly local individuals which has contributed to many new jobs being created in this area. The members of the community now have opportunities to not only provide for themselves, but also give back and aid further progress. As development continues, crime is decreasing and a once negative neighborhood image is being changed into something far more positive.
It was reassuring to see a manufacturer with such a well-rounded perspective. There was a balance between attention to the individuals who produce the product as well as for the community, and ultimately the planet we all share. Plans are continually developing to better impact the community, the employees, and the environment. Together, the Method philosophy creates a positive impact by bringing bright-smelling cleaning products to your retailer.
Alison Sirmarco – Lagunitas brewery tour; central Chicago
Sometimes there is nothing better than kicking back and sipping on a cold delicious beer at the end of a workweek. In the spirit of that sentiment, that is exactly how the Product Library team wrapped up a week of insightful meetings with craft beer research in the form of a brewery tour – Destination Lagunitas, the largest craft brewery in Illinois.
Near Chicago’s Douglas Park neighborhood, appears a very large and non-descript building. One would think that they were in for the standard dry, monotone factory tour. However, all of those thoughts leave your mind, for as soon as you step inside, your senses are completely captivated by the sights, sounds, and overall feel of Lagunitas. The voice of Gene Wilder singing ‘Pure Imagination’ is the beginning of this company’s unique style, an adult playground of entertainment to tap into the brewery’s history.
Once you enter the tasting room, you literally feel like you’re welcomed into Lagunitas’ house. The room is furnished with several complete thrift store living room sets, life size Jenga, arcade games and the bar in which the free samples of beer are served from. Then, the samples start flowing; Fusion XXX, a limited edition wine infused ale; flagship beer Laginutas IPA, which makes 60% of their sales and Pils, another fan favorite. After the last sample was served we moved into the heart of the brewery, stepping out onto the raised metal catwalk, where you can see all of the brewery’s state-of-the-art equipment. While walking along the machines, our tour host tells us the humble beginnings of their founder and ‘Imperial Warlord’ Tony Magee.
Tony started, like most craft beer enthusiasts, with a home brewing kit – a Christmas gift. After his first batch he was hooked. With that passion, he was able to cultivate his brew and grow his brand into what it is today. In 2014 they opened a 300,000 square foot monster brewery in Chicago. Brewing in Chicago is not just a perk for the local natives either, the company saves enough money on diesel fuel – meant for eastward bound distribution trucks from the California facility – to pay the building’s rent. The Chicago location brews all the beer sold east of the Rocky Mountains. The brewery houses 2 kegging lines, one which was shipped from the original brewery in Peteluma, California and another with 40 fermenters that are 750 barrels each. The facility is able to produce 3 kegs of beer per minute and has a reverse osmosis machine so purity of water and taste of beer is consistent whether brewed in California or Chicago.
Getting a peak into the history of Lagunitas was an interesting journey into the culture of craft beer. You can tell that every employee from the ‘Imperial Warlord’ to the host of our tour has a great dedication for the beer it brews and the company’s mission. Bookkeeping In a country full of watered down run-of-the-mill domestic beers, it’s nice to know that a small, independent and traditional craft brewery is on the rise. It goes without saying, we are thrilled that Lagunitas set up shop in Chicago