LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Lincoln-based bottled water equipment maker's entry into the craft beer business two years ago has paid off and company officials said Saturday they're planning a $2 million expansion tied to the rapidly growing craft beer industry in the U.S. and abroad.
Norland International President Mike McFarland said sales in the company's current fiscal year, which ends June 30, are up 60 percent, and the workforce has grown from 48 to 80 in the past year.
He told the Lincoln Journal Star that some growth has come from water business but most has been in the beer equipment division.
Norland manufactures entire water treatment and bottling systems for water distribution companies and has developed a similar line of products for brewers instead of filling bottles the beer equipment fills cans.
The expansion will allow Norland to move its beer equipment manufacturing, including the fast-growing canning segment, into one building.
Right now, the water equipment and beer equipment lines are packed into the one manufacturing building, with some manufacturing done in one of three warehouses the company rents offsite.
A recent conference in Portland, Oregon, had more than 11,000 people representing hundreds of craft breweries, "and all of them are looking to grow," said Bruce Kucera, vice president of American Beer Equipment division of the company, who attended the conference. The company expects to ship 150 full brewhouse systems this year and that number could easily grow in the future.
The company is testing a couple of products that would allow it to serve larger breweries, McFarland said, and after initially focusing most of its sales efforts on the U.S., the company is putting more effort into global sales.
American Beer Equipment already has contracts with breweries in Bolivia, Panama and New Zealand and just recently signed deals with distributors in Australia and the United Kingdom.
"Craft beer is starting to mature here, but overseas it's barely beginning to grow," Kucera said.