Andrea Gagner, Matt Kehaya and Steve Gagner of 14th Star Brewing. Courtesy photo.
Vermont Business Magazine The Franklin County Regional Chamber of Commerce will present the 2017 Tim Bovat Civic Involvement Award to 14th Star Brewing Founders Steve Gagner and Matt Kehaya, and CEO Andrea Gagner. The presentation will be made during the Tim’s House Annual Golf Classic on Friday, August 18th at the Champlain Country Club, following lunch at approximately 2 pm. The Golf Classic is held annually to benefit Tim’s House, a transitional housing shelter built in Bovat’s memory.
The Civic Involvement Award is presented to an individual or business who has demonstrated significant interest in and service to our Community. Since their very small beginning, in a tiny shop on Lower Newton Road, this team has expanded 14th Star Brewing in size and scale. They have also built a “pay it forward” attitude into their everyday operations, with special attention to service men and women, and individuals in our community facing insurmountable illness or disability.
Here are a few examples of their impact within our community:
- --Proceeds from every batch of Valor Ale supports Purple Hearts Reunited, an organization dedicated to returning lost or stolen military medals to veterans and their families.
- --Their annual Bravo 11 event supports the Josh Pallotta Fund, an organization working to bring awareness about and to eliminate Veteran Suicide. Currently they are working to support the construction of Josh’s House, a home for VT veterans suffering from TBI and PTSD.
- --They raised funds to ensure that Martha’s Kitchen was supplied with milk and eggs for a year. Additionally, they donate time, space and funding for The Empty Bowls Project, an annual fundraising event for Martha’s Kitchen that helps defray the cost of feeding the hungry in our community. .
- --They are the frequent initiators of small fundraisers in support of the local animal rescue, homeless shelter, domestic abuse safe house, preschools and veteran’s organizations.
- --They have donated use of their new event space, The Room to host many more charitable events.
- -- 14th Star’s efforts have also helped a State Police officer battling brain cancer, a National Guard member battling cancer, and the family and children of a fallen Vermont State Trooper.
- --Finally, 14th Star has actually created and will be pouring a special “Second Chance Brew” at the Tim’s House Golf Classic this year.
Matt Kehaya and Steve Gagner met in the Army, serving together in Afghanistan.
In 2010, the two were deployed to a remote base in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan, to protect the airfield at Bagram against enemy activity. As a distraction, to stay focused and think positively, the two sketched out – on paper - the business plan for a small craft brewery.
They returned home in 2011, still keen on a brewery. 2012 brought a brewer’s permit and a small space in a former transmission repair shop turned makeshift brewery. After just 18 months, they outgrew their space, but the demand for 14th Star showed no signs of diminishing. In 2014, the pair began brewing in their current location, a former bowling alley, turned taproom and brewery, located in the heart of downtown St. Albans. They also hired Mr. Gagner’s sister, Andrea Gagner, to manage operations at the brewery, naming her CEO a short time later. Of his sister, Mr. Gagner says proudly, “She’s been responsible for the vast majority of good things that have occurred for the business.”
Under Andrea Gagner’s watch, the 14th Star footprint has increased to include “The Room,” a large event/reception space, plus a full-sized kitchen. Distribution has expanded state wide, as well as in MA, NH, and soon, RI. Employees have increased, from 3 – 20. The work environment there is open, collaborative and encourages learning, innovation and community service. Despite widespread success, this team has never forgotten their roots, their community, nor the assistance they’ve received along the way.
Golf tournament begins at 8am
1pm Luncheon - 2pm Award Presentation
Special luncheon, catered by Chef Susan Leclair of Santini Catering
Lunch cost: $15 per person
Cash bar + special 14th Star beer: "Second Chance Brew"
Registration required, for catering purposes.
Visit www.fcrccvt.com for a link to registration.