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A modern day barn raising

by Jim Raffel on November 21, 2011

image of milwaukee brewing company pot luck pack

I’ve written before about Translator, the cool digital agency my friends, Mark Fairbanks and Cynthia Thomas, run. Last week, a group volunteered to help one of their clients, Milwaukee Brewing Co., package their new Pot Luck Pack. Yes, you read that right. A bunch of folks volunteered to help a fellow business owner for free (if you don’t count the free case of beer we each received). Why, you might ask? My answer can be summed up with one word: Community.

The modern day barn raising

Back in the days when this was an agriculturally driven country, folks would often take a day or two out of their schedule to help a fellow farmer raise a new barn. The unwritten understanding was: “I’ll help you and then when I need help the favor will be returned.” Ultimately, we have a stronger community with more successful farms, so let’s do this together.

It’s about a moment in time

Jim McCabe, the owner of Milwaukee Brewing, had a time-sensitive need to repack 12 pallets of beer. He had the orders and needed to deliver. That’s what sometimes happens when you launch a new product. For a moment in time, he had more demand than he could easily accommodate. All we did was give him a running start. Now he can ramp up production or hire a few additional people; whatever he needs to do to run his business. It’s not like we’re all coming back next week. It’s just like a barn raising from the days of old. It’s a one-time offer of assistance.

The motivation to help

If you dig a little deeper into my personal why, you’ll find two compelling reasons I wanted to help. First, when time has allowed, I’ve been attending the Translator open lab sessions for about a year and a half now. At those sessions, I’ve seen the new Milwaukee Brewing packing Mark Fairbanks has been working on. I followed along on Twitter while he was at the press okay for the new six packs. As a business owner, I wanted to see this product launch succeed.

Then add in Jim McCabe’s willingness to make a generous door prize donation to our recent “She Said, He Said” live event to benefit a local charity and you have a slam dunk “yes” from me when asked to help. I was, however, one of only about 16 people there and I’m sure each one could tell a story like mine with very different details. Oh, and it turned out to be a great deal of fun; even if I was a little sore for the next two days after tossing 400 plus cases of beer around.

No need to go it alone

Sure, some business are big nameless, faceless and heartless concerns. No doubt about it. On the other side of that coin are organizations like Translator, Milwaukee Brewing and ColorMetrix who come together to help each other out. We don’t do it just once or twice; but whenever we think we can make a difference. Times are changing in the land of small business ownership and there is no longer any reason to go it alone; at least not in “Smallwaukee” (you’ll need to watch all the way to the end of the video to get this reference).

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  • http://twitter.com/deziner Cynthia Thomas

    Very nice post Jim, and awesome perspective. :) The greatest part about the whole experience was it was so natural to put together. Actually, the small businesses helping each other thing was a perspective I personally didn’t realize until it was over and we were all discussing. For me it was just a natural people helping people event. Plus who wouldn’t like to work in a brewery for a day?!

  • http://twitter.com/MarkFairbanks Mark Fairbanks

    I agree with Cynthia. It just seemed like it would be a fun thing to do. But maybe that’s something all of the attendees had in common: work is fun is life is social. Or something like that. :)

  • http://JimRaffel.com/ Jim Raffel

    Wel, social business are made up of people so that makes sense. I think it’s the nameless, faceless, heatless organizations that we don’t see in the social space. We all know who they are and they don’t do business in a human way. :)

  • http://JimRaffel.com/ Jim Raffel

    “Make money having fun” is the way I think Joe Sorge puts it. I’m richer for the experience and I know that if someday I need help it will be there :)

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    Not a bad idea… 

    I think since it is a one time thing. Maybe there is a way to virtually do something like that.

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