Hard work, putting employees first, a desire to collaborate and a willingness to evolve were all part of the message for success by Sam and Mariah Calagione at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s 183rd annual dinner.
The Jan. 6 event, held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington attracted more than 1,000 business leaders, elected officials and state dignitaries. The Calagiones talked about starting as the country’s smallest craft brewer 25 years ago and growing to the recent merger with Boston Beer Company.
Taking sips off a can of the Cape Region-based company’s popular SeaQuench Ale, Sam said the craft brewing industry was always a difficult marketplace, but beer conglomerates have been buying competitors, and Dogfish Head was losing its market share at a national level.
Sam said there was opportunity for continued growth, but it was going to take help, and Boston Beer Company, brewers of Sam Adams, shared many of the same business-management beliefs. He said with the merger, the company still represents only 2 percent of the beer-consuming market.
The question, said Sam, was whether Dogfish wanted to stay a mom-and-pop operation or make a national push. “We decided to go for it,” he said.
Mariah said the merger with Boston Beer Company will allow Dogfish to keep its strong Mid-Atlantic roots, but also compete with beer conglomerates at national and international levels. She said Dogfish will be in all 50 states by the end of 2020, and the company will soon be participating in its first national campaign, which pairs Buffalo Wild Wings with the company’s Slightly Mighty. The couple also announced a collaboration with Belgium-based brewer Rodenbach Beer – Vibrant P’Ocean – set to be released this month.
Prior to the Calagiones speaking, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce awarded its Josiah Marvel Cup Award to philanthropists Gerret and Tatiana Copeland.
Established in 1951, the Marvel Cup honors a Delawarean who has made an outstanding contribution to the state, community or society. The state chamber’s highest honor is named in memory of the Hon. Josiah Marvel, who reorganized and served as the first president of the state chamber in 1913.
The Copelands were recognized for their work within the arts community, helping institutions such as Delaware College of Art and Design, Delaware Historical Society, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Delaware Theatre Company, Fund for Women at the Delaware Community Foundation, Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, Kalmar Nyckel Foundation and Longwood Foundation.
Tatiana said she was an example of a person who is now a proud U.S. citizen doing good, who started out as a poor immigrant from Europe as a child. Gerret, a member of the du Pont family, said it was important to leave this earth better than how it was found.