From the Editor: October 2016

From the Editor: October 2016

Those who view the business world as a heartless place infested with soulless people interested only in personal gain can be forgiven their cynicism.

Day after day, good reason for that cynicism pours in:

A 30-something hedge-fund manager turned “pharma bro” CEO jacks up the price of a lifesaving drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill — an increase of more than 5,000 percent.

A 47-year-old, $18 million-a-year drug company CEO gouges those at risk of severe allergic reactions by taking a 50-year-old medical device and quintupling its price — from $100 to $600 — and then has the temerity to defend her decision, telling Congress she believes she has “struck that balance” between price and access.

A major bank gets slapped with a $185 million fine because its corporate culture was one of sell, sell, sell — to the point where employees were opening up credit card accounts, bank accounts and online accounts for customers, and moving customer money between those accounts, all to meet quotas and get bonuses and all without the customers’ knowledge.

And that’s just in the last few months.

This edition of Enterprise, however, offers an antidote — and for free. In it, we highlight several members of the Upper Valley business community who, in marked contrast to the gougers and cheats, are pursuing their passions with heart and soul, being helpful, and creating tasty, beautiful things.

Our cover story, by Valley News business writer John Lippman, taps into the Upper Valley’s craft beer scene and finds a wide variety of folks — longtime homebrewers, high school buddies, a master plumber — making and selling their brews for a growing audience of fans.

Sure, there are hard business decisions to be made. The Lebanon Brew Shop changed its whole business model to focus on homebrewing. Big Fatty’s BBQ doubled its craft beer offerings and invested in a $5,500 on-site canning machine. Kelen Beardsley, Gabe Streeter and Trevor Billings, high school friends from Springfield, Vt., borrowed big bucks to buy Trout River Brewing Co. But, as Ben Linehan of Brocklebank Craft Brewing in Tunbridge told Lippman, it’s not about a big payoff. “It’s more about the fun of it and seeing people enjoy drinking my beer.”

Our Cottage Industry column, by Valley News staff writer Aimee Caruso, profiles weaver Erica Pfister, of Unity. Pfister, who as a child made potholders and sold them door to door for 10 cents apiece, knows she won’t get rich doing what she does. But that’s not the point, she told Caruso. “I like weaving rugs because within the simplicity of the form, I can create — with color and design — a beautiful, sturdy, useful product.”

Finally, contributor Jaimie Seaton talks with Erik Volk, executive director of the Cohase Chamber of Commerce. Volk left the corporate world a few years ago in search of community involvement. He found it. Today, in addition to serving on his town’s library board of trustees and historical society, he’s busy boosting the chamber’s 147 member businesses and organizing events such as a farm tour, a Film Slam and an annual economic summit.

“I saw this opportunity and thought I would love to do that,” he told Seaton. “I can help the businesses and the economics of the nearby communities that I frequent.”


Author: Ernie Kohlsaat

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