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Monday, June 20th 2011

Young Entrepreneurs to Start Mobile Canning Company

Say you're a small brewery or brewpub that wants to can some of your beers but you don't have the capital to buy a canning line nor the space to store thousands of empty beer cans. What do you do? For a long time now you've just dealt with the fact that it's not possible. Soon that might not be the case, thanks to some recent MBA grads from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. They're embarking on a a unique business venture that will bring the canning line to the brewery via what they call "The Can Van". 

We were eager to learn more about The Can Van and the crew that stands behind the idea and the business so we reached out to them. They were very accommodating, even getting up early on the West Coast, to do a conference call to talk more about their upcoming venture. Cheers!

(CC) So, who all is involved in this business? You guys all went to school together and just recently graduated, correct?

(TCV) Yeah! The Can Van is made up of Lindsey Herrema, Jenn Coyle, Kate Drane, Jake Blackshear and Heath Cox. We developed the business plan during our MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. We loved the idea so much that we decided to launch the company.


(CC) Where did the whole idea for "The Can Van" come from?

(TCV) We love craft beer and wanted to help the little guys compete while promoting a packaging that’s better for the environment. Some places, like Alaska, don’t recycle glass at all. With cans, we hope to reduce landfill waste, and get more craft beer to outdoor markets. There are a lot of mobile bottling lines here in Northern California that serve wineries, so it seemed like a business model that could work. 


(CC) Were you surprised to find that no one else had launched a similar business so far?

(TCV) Yeah, we were definitely surprised. Once we got down to the nitty gritty of the business model it made sense why people in the past might not have followed through. There are a lot of technical details to work out, but at the same time, it seems very do-able. Everybody we have talked to in the brewing industry has been super helpful and welcoming.


(CC) Could you describe the basic business model that you're in the process of putting into place?

(TCV) Well...its pretty simple. We have the canning equipment on a big trailer and we take it around to breweries within driving distance of the San Francisco Bay Area. We set up, can, palletize, and when we leave the brewery, they have a bunch of cans ready for market. Hooray! 


(CC) What is the set-up that you're looking to have with the canning equipment and the van? 

(TCV) The “van” is actually a trailer. We considered everything from the scooby-doo van to a semi-truck, but decided that a 36’ trailer, pulled behind a pickup would work the best. 


CraftCans mock-up


(CC) What about the actual cans (the can above was just a mock up we did)?

(TCV) We recognize that the minimum order size for pre-printed cans from the manufacturer is a major roadblock preventing craft brewers from canning. So we’ll source blank or solid color cans and offer small-batch labelling, or we have storage capacity for brewers who want pre-printed cans, but don’t have a place to put them. 


(CC) Who will benefit most from The Can Van's services?

(TCV) Cans help breweries get their beer in front of new markets, and the beauty of The Can Van is it allows them to do this without having to make a big upfront capital investment. They pay per can, as they go, without needing to worry about the extra labor or space required for their own canning line.

We can offer a big value to smaller breweries who wish to augment their bottle and keg distribution with cans, or even brew pubs who are not bottling. Larger breweries that want to try out canning in a test market or ramp up slowly before investing in their own equipment are also good customers.

Right now we’re looking for a couple of partner breweries in the San Francisco Bay Area to be our pilot customers.

"...we’re looking for a couple of partner breweries in the San Francisco Bay Area to be our pilot customers."


(CC) Where do you see the canned craft beer market in the future?

(TCV) Based on all our conversations with breweries, cans are not a passing fad. Breweries offering cans are having a hard time meeting demand, as consumers love the idea of getting their favorite beer in cans.


(CC) What canned craft beers does The Can Van crew enjoy these days now that school is over?

(TCV) With all the breweries around us, there is still a striking lack of canned craft beer in our area. Some of our local favorites include Uncommon Brewers from Santa Cruz, and Anderson Valley in Boonville. For now we are enjoying the sunshine and local brews, and working to bring everybody more canned beer variety.

If you are interested in learning more about our service, please contact us!

thecanvan (at) gmail (dot) com


The Can Van Media Resources



Note: this is NOT the can van

Posted by Russ