Jim Haertel | BrewCity Redevelopment Group, Chief Steward


Jim HaertelI have had the unique pleasure of getting to know Jim during our tenure at Marquette University’s inaugural Executive MBA program. Our group was the first graduating class of the new program and our small class of 30 allowed for intense business discussions and long lasting relationships to be developed. Jim was probably our most vocal classmate and provided endless opportunities for laughter and camaraderie. I have learned about what it takes to make big calculated risks by watching Jim’s passionate pursuit of his Milwaukee brewery dream. I am proud to call him a friend and former classmate and excited to finally feature him as a passionate ‘Entrepreneur in Action.’

1. Career influences

My best friend Tom Erd influenced me in my entrepreneurial pursuits by giving me a book about investing in real estate.  Tom was determined to be successful, as was I.  I followed him in newspaper delivery, golf caddying and working at a friend’s Dad’s box company (luckily I passed on selling encyclopedias).  I bought my first piece of real estate because of Tom and then we were partners in my fourth acquisition, a bar with five apartments.  This and a few other life experiences are what led to my big purchase of the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery.  Tom and I are still best friends and run successful businesses with our wives playing integral roles in our companies.

My wife Karen has influenced me with her support, “As long as we can pay the bills!”  She has been my sounding board and has saved me from many a dumb idea and has been adept at seeing when one of my cockamamie ideas has a shred of possibility.  She also lets me be me – which is a little different – but always trying to help others.

2. Biggest career success

After graduating Marquette’s Executive MBA Program in 1997, I was inspired to go for my Passion! Mine was historic real estate.  Specifically, the Pabst Corporate Offices.  The catch: Pabst people required I purchase the entire Brewery for $11 million! I risked losing $50,000 if we failed.  We moved forward on 9-11-2001. With two weeks until we fail, we raised the money and received the Pabst Corporate Office Building for our $50,000 downpayment.  Follow YOUR Passion!

3. Recent lessons learned

Be patient with people and they will come around or you might see the wisdom in their thoughts and ideas.

4. What inspires and motivates

Making a difference.  Saving history.  Helping the less fortunate in ways that give them a fish when they are hungry but also helps to teach them how to fish so they can be independent and free.

5. Share a leadership story

So many of us are brought up to excel in school and sports, fine arts and such.  In school, you are generally preparing for college.  In college, it is typical to prepare you for work at a job.  We are taught to be good, hard-working soldiers.  But those that do not fit in or see another way, often become derelicts or entrepreneurs.  Good entrepreneurs can become very successful.  Bad ones can become very good workers (soldiers) or derelicts.  I would encourage everyone to go for their dream and be a good entrepreneur.  Be a Leader, not a Follower! Be Happy!

6. Your Top Two

I told my wife Karen I wanted to do “Dick Tracy-like” telephones, that look like wristwatches.  They’re coming out now.

Put your family first and encourage your managers and all employees to put their family first, too.

Examples of doing this are allowing flexible schedules so parents can take care or be present for important things that happen at unusual times-like during work.  Allow telecommuting whenever and wherever possible-trust your employees to give you an honest day’s work.  The good ones will work harder and peer pressure will weed out offenders.  Give rewards and recognition that can be taken home, even if it is a certificate that makes it onto the fridge. Have family-centered company events like picnics.  Have kids decorate pumpkins and such for prizes, where every entry wins something.

7. About Jim Haertel

My name is James C. Haertel and go by Jim Haertel, Chief Steward of BrewCity Redevelopment Group, LLC d/b/a Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery.

I am a Milwaukee born and raised guy who loves his City!  I met my wife Karen in high school and we have a married daughter who blessed us with two granddaughters.  Our son is engaged to be married August 23, 2014 at our Banquet Hall.  I have a UW-Milwaukee BS and a Marquette Executive MBA.  I was a CPA, too.

Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery (Facebook) is currently four ideas (some would call these ‘profit centers’ or something like that) with a few more forthcoming:

  • The Retro Pabst Gift Shop – With a treasure trove of vintage and new retro beer EVERYTHING!
  • The Best Beer History Tour – A one-hour and 15 minute fun and entertaining “Tour” all about Pabst.
  • The Best Place Tavern – selling ten, local, fresh, delicious cold beers, retros like PBR and new micros, too.
  • Blue Ribbon Banquet Hall – a 17th century European Beer Hall used for weddings and milestone events.

We are planning Beer, Bed & Breakfast rooms, upstairs, with beer ON TAP in every room! We also want to give home brew demonstrations, to brew beer again and again at the Pabst and sell home brew kits. We are currently renovating an 1880 and 1892 piece of our Buildings as another Banquet Hall, formerly and again to be known as “The Great Room.”  The 1892 piece includes Captain Pabst’s Office, replete with his roll-top desk.  The space is ornate with 1880 original woodwork, seven, original stained glass pieces, the original 12 x 23 foot skylight and more.  This is where my son Joshua will be marrying Lanae.

We give back by giving out over 20 certificates a month for 6 free tours that charities use as raffle items.  We have donated Banquet Hall rentals.  We give non-profits 50% off of our room rental fees. We give free use at times so worthy charities can raise funds and aspiring artists can display their art or perform – especially bands and DJs.

Check out other featured “Entrepreneurs in Action”!

About Brian Loebig

Owner of LoebigInk.com, author of TheInkBlog.net, CriminalThinking.net and part-time Technology Manager for the Alliance for Performance Excellence, Brian has over 15 years of experience working in the quality improvement, human services and technology fields as an administrator and consultant. Brian has also worked as a practitioner and administrator in the corrections, substance abuse and human services fields with a special emphasis on technology. He continues to work with numerous community-based non-profits as a web technology consultant, board member and volunteer. Feel free to .
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