Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

What: GP Analytics

What it does: Consulting services and demand forecasting software for breweries and wholesale distributors

Pictured: Ross Ackermann

Employees: Six

Website: http://www.gp-analytics.com/wordpress/

10 Barrel Brewing was still an independent company when it began consulting with Ross Ackermann, who’d created an algorithm to help brewers cut down on waste and the number of days their beer spent on shelves.

Ackermann’s model was a side project to GP Analytics, the company he started in 2012 with Brian Belobradic to help wholesale beverage distributors boost their bottom lines.

Soon GP, which stands for “gross profit,” was working with several fast-growing breweries. Ackermann thinks the efficiency those breweries gained by using his consulting service and software made them attractive targets for Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. Two of GP Analytics’ current and former clients, 10 Barrel and Devils Backbone Brewing Co. of Virginia, went on to sell to AB InBev, and MillerCoors bought Hop Valley Brewing Co. of Eugene.

Now GP Analytics wants to give microbreweries access to the same insights enjoyed by conglomerate-owned breweries, Ackermann said. Last week the company launched a standalone software, Crafted MRP (material requirements planning), which is designed as a tool for small business. Ackermann, who operates from Bend with four employees, talked to The Bulletin about working with the beer industry. His responses have been edited for length and content.

Q: How many breweries are using your service and software?

A: Twenty. They’re all over the country. And more importantly, we’ve got 1,200 wholesalers that are using it. What makes me confident (about) where we’re going is that wholesaler connection. The more they use it, the more valuable the tool is to the supplier.

Q: There’s a lot of software out there to help companies manage their supply chain. What’s different about beer?

A: By law we have a three-tier system: producer, wholesaler, retailer, and it has to be that way. It’s been that way since Prohibition. That creates a unique circumstance. It’s nice to put something in place that allowed the producer to bring these sophisticated tools to the wholesaler, in the same way that Anheuser-Busch does. What we’re trying to do is … say, ‘Let’s tighten the order window because freshness is critical.’ That’s everything in this business, is how fresh your beer is.

Q: What’s changed in craft brewing since you started working in the industry?

A: It used to be, going to conferences, it was all flannel shirts and trucker hats. It’s all suits. The growth isn’t going to be what it was. From a competition standpoint, it’s going to get a lot harder. If I was going to start a brewery, my goal would be to keep it fairly small and contained.

Q: You started your career at St. Louis-based wine and spirits distributor Major Brands, which acquired Western Beverage Co. in Eugene. What did you learn from operating Western Beverage?

A: (The wine and spirits industry is) a very sophisticated and large supply chain. And big dollars too. So you walk into the beer space and it’s like walking back 50 years into the past. There’s no software, no process. OK, great, this is a great opportunity for me to build a better version than what we had in the wine and spirits business.

Q: How did you decide to start GP Analytics?

A: When AB came and bought (Western Beverage), I was faced with the decision, do I take an offer from AB? Do I go back to the parent company, where they’ve already back-filled my job, and wait for something to open up? Do I break free, live where I want to live and build something on my own?

—Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com