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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

Jan 18, 2017

Co-hosts Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos interview John Brumer, Jason Ginos, and Micah Niebauer, founders of Southern Pines Brewing. The three entrepreneurs first met while serving in the 3rd Special Forces Group. John enlisted right into the Special Forces qualification course. Jason went to Millikin University, and was a psychological operations specialist before heading into the 3rd Group. Micah attended Wheaton College in the ROTC Program, and went to the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, joined the 82nd Airborne, and then joined the 3rd Special Forces Group.

These men served with distinction, with multiple active-duty tours. John, or Juan Peligro, as the Patagonia crew referred to him, has been a GORUCK Cadre since 2014. Jason and his wife, Aleah, have been married nine years, and have three young children, Tanner, Luke, and Charlotte. Micah and his wife, Patricia have been married for 10 years, and have three young children, Eva, Claudia, and Wyatt. Micah is the CEO, Jason is the CFO, and John is the COO of Southern Pines Brewing, in Southern Pines, North Carolina, where they all reside.

Jan and Jim speak with John, Jason, and Micah about how disciplines learned through their Special Forces service helped them unite in a business partnership, and how they chose to advance a home-brewing passion they shared into a viable business. They also discuss how identifying with a community, and participating in community programs lends purpose to the enterprise. They discuss the company's mission and values individually, and how these statements of purpose keep them going despite inevitable challenges. There is also a segment about John’s participation in the Crucible in Patagonia, and how he is applying the lessons into the business on a daily basis.

Listen in to learn more about turning a shared passion into a dynamic business partnership.


Key Takeaways

[2:00] John, Jason, and Micah all served in the 3rd Special Forces Group, an airborne unit of the Green Berets. Their common bond, and strong teamwork, allowed them to enter head first into the entrepreneurial world as the Co-Founders of Southern Pines Brewing.

[4:27] As the Co-Founders developed the slogan and mission statement for Southern Pines Brewing, they focused on the community aspect of craft brewing, with the art, history and tradition behind it. They visited many craft breweries to find inspiration for starting Southern Pines Brewing. They adopted some ideas they saw, and suggestions they received.

[6:08] Southern Pines Brewing makes a huge impact on the local community. They participate in Boys and Girls clubs, and the Walter Moss Foundation, and retirement homes. They take their military community sense of belonging with them. Everybody understands beer.

[7:33] Southern PInes Values: The customer is the focus of everything we do. We provide the highest quality products for our customers. We are a professional organization, demonstrating this in everything we do. We are constantly learning and growing. We are good citizens in the community. Fear will not drive decision-making. We are aggressive. Nothing is impossible.

[8:58] Jason explains that their ambition to venture into brewing led them to be aggressive. First, they needed aggressive growth. In the second year they needed growth and financial efficiency. They will aggressively reach for their full effective production capacity, and eliminate choke points. In 2017, they will grow, but aggressively pay down debt and become a better business.

[11:23] Micah talks about overcoming fear, by being proactive in their decisions. Their military experience leads them to take measured risks daily, not for their lives, but for their livelihood.

[15:18] John speaks on how nothing is impossible became one of their values. He recalls a race car course in Special Ops. The lesson he learned was to look where you’re going. Don’t worry about all of the things that could possibly happen. Worry about the outcomes that you’re trying to accomplish. John speaks of his support from his partners to turn a hobby into a viable business. [21:33] Jason recommends, The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham, and the Berkshire Hathaway books. He also recommends Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech. Micah recommends two books, Built to Sell, by John Warrillow, and Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish. John recommends, Tribe, by Sebastian Junger, and Nassim Taleb’s, The Black Swan.

[28:53] Micah notes John’s interactions with executives on the Crucible opened opportunities. Jason comments how John was so alive when he got back from being in beautiful landscapes with awesome leaders. The team problem-solving was impactful. John says the biggest thing was the day-to-day training through personal interaction with executives and veterans.

[35:20] The partners finally have the time to look forward five to ten years. What are the best tools to get there? It’s another world from three Army guys making beer in a garage. There are opportunities and responsibilities not available before.

[37:46] John speaks on how difficult it was to get financing. Jason says eight banks rejected them. The local PNC branch backed them, just when they were ready to go to Plan B. Micah adds they are so successful together because they are equally yoked to the success of the business. No one is going home. The business has to succeed. They are past the point of no-return.


Books Mentioned in This Episode

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing, by Benjamin Graham

“Citizenship in a Republic (The Man in the Arena),” by Theodore Roosevelt

Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, by John Warrillow

Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't, by Verne Harnish

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb




Micah Niebauer is originally from Superior, Wisconsin. He attended college at Wheaton College, IL, majored in Political Science, and was a member of the ROTC program. Upon graduation in 2003, he worked at both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Commerce prior to beginning service in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer in the 82d Airborne Division. He later joined Special Forces and served in 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). Micah completed multiple tours in support of the Global War on Terror before resigning his commission in June of 2013. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of Southern Pines Brewing Company. Micah completed the Siebel Institute of Technology’s Concise Course in Brewing Technology as well as the Essential Quality Control Course at White Labs, San Diego. Micah and his wife Patricia have been married for 10 years and have three children, Eva (7), and Claudia (3), and Wyatt (1). Patricia works as an attorney at Robins, May, and Rich in Pinehurst, and they reside in Southern Pines.


JOHN BRUMER, Co-founder & COO

John Brumer is originally from Houston, Texas. He enlisted in the Army after high school and joined Special Forces through the 18X-ray program. John served as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant in 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), completing multiple overseas tours. John was later chosen to serve as an instructor in the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne).
John turned down a promotion in early 2013 and separated from the Army in June of 2014. He is currently the COO and co-founder of Southern Pines Brewing Company. John completed the Siebel Institute of Technology’s Concise Course in Brewing Technology as well as the Essential Quality Control Course at White Labs, San Diego. He has been a GoRuck Cadre since 2014. John resides in Southern Pines.


JASON GINOS, Co-founder and CFO

Jason Ginos is originally from Hillsboro, Illinois. Jason completed two years of college at Millikin University, IL, before enlisting in the Army as a Psychological Operations Specialist in 2003. Jason later joined Special Forces and was assigned as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). Jason completed numerous overseas tours in support of the Global War on Terror. He was later selected to serve as a Small Unit Tactics Instructor in the Special Warfare Center and School. After completing 10 years of service, Jason separated from the Army in June of 2014. He is currently the CFO and co-founder of Southern Pines Brewing Company. Jason and his wife Aleah have been married for 9 years and have three children, Tanner (6), Luke (3), and Charlotte (6 mo). Aleah serves as a First Sergeant in Military Information Support Operations on Fort Bragg, and they reside in Southern Pines.