Dale Katechis '92
Owner, Oskar Blues Brewery
|award:||Entrepreneur of the Year|
|company:||Oskar Blues Brewery|
Craft beer aficionados recognize the Oskar Blues Brewery founder and owner as an innovator who went against conventional wisdom by packaging his prized craft product, Dale’s Pale Ale, in cans rather than bottles. But they might not know that Oskar Blues’ flagship label can trace its origins back to an Auburn trailer park.
As an Auburn University finance student in the College of Business, Katechis received a Christmas gift that changed his professional trajectory – a home brewing kit. He began experimenting with small batches, but the enthusiastic response from a local home brewing club led to him brewing larger quantities in the bathtub of his trailer off Wire Road.
Today, Oskar Blues is the 24th largest craft brewer in America. The nation’s first craft brewery to hand-can its own beer, Oskar Blues has maintained explosive growth since its foundation and earned placement in the top half of the Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest-growing companies. The company has more than doubled its production since 2011 and has grown to include brewing locations in Colorado and North Carolina, five restaurant locations, three restaurant concepts, in-house bicycle brand REEB cycles, the Oskar Blues REEB Ranch camping and mountain biking resort in Henderson County, N.C., and the CAN’d Aid Foundation.
The CAN’d Aid Foundation grew out of out of a devastating flood in Colorado that forced Katechis’ Dale’s Grill and Brew restaurant to close for two months. The foundation raised more than $1 million to help families and businesses impacted by the flood.
Oskar Blues’ beers have received praise from a variety of sources, winning gold and silver medals at the Brussels Beer Challenge, claiming gold at the 2010 World Beer Championships, received “Best Canned Beer” recognition from Details magazine, and earning Top American Pale Ale status from the New York Times in 2005.
Dave Ketchen, Lowder Eminent Scholar and Professor of Management in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business said Katechis is “rapidly becoming an entrepreneurial and Auburn icon.”
Beyond offering critically acclaimed products, Katechis has also created a workplace culture that brings out the best in employees. Oskar Blues employees are rewarded with profit sharing, an on-site gym and massage services, family lunches each Friday, and a wellness program and that emphasizes healthy and active lifestyles.