All Things WPC

ASU alumnus Patrick Ware raises a glass at Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
From hops to hiring

new agribusiness class made a real splash this spring.

“We wanted to do something different,” says Marvin and June Morrison Chair in Agribusiness Tim Richards. “So we’re teaching ‘vertical’ — everything about an industry from the ground up — and we wanted to choose an industry that would be attractive to students.”

Turns out the business of beer is plenty attractive.

Taught by Richards and fellow Morrison School of Agribusiness faculty Carola Grebitus, the first class of Agribusiness 494 students learned about price elasticity and regression analysis. They also heard about hops farms, spontaneous fermentation, and how issues like labor costs work in real life, thanks to local beer industry leaders including ASU alumnus Patrick Ware.

While telling the class about his journey to become co-founder and brewmaster of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. — an award-winning craft brewery with two restaurants and 150 employees — he stressed the importance of making business decisions that align with your core beliefs. For Ware and business partner Jonathan Buford, that means staying true to their commitment to ethical and sustainable business practices, as well as their shared devotion to conservation.

“A lot of the initiatives we ran after initially didn’t make a dollar but were, philosophically, things we loved,” he explains. “You can’t lose the culture of the company even though you want to put together financial protocols.”

An invaluable learning experience for students, Richards says the course will be evaluated for expansion into other areas of agribusiness, such as coffee and pizza.

“It’s all about creativity and entrepreneurship,” he says. “It’s the merger of the best things about business.”