Oregon is known as a leader in craft brewing, and this month a group of Oregon State University MBA students got a chance to learn from some of the pioneers of the industry on a trip to Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland.
A dozen students from the MBA Association — OSU’s MBA student club — travelled to the brewery May 11 for a tour and lunch with Rob Widmer, an Oregon State alumnus, who co-founded the company with brother Kurt.
The pair started the brewery in 1984, starting with 40-barrel capacity. A $3 million upgrade this month has now expanded that to 700,000 and 800,000 barrels annually.
Monette LeMay, operations and admissions coordinator for the MBA program, organized the trip.
Doug Rehberg, senior manager of brewery operations, and Lorin Gelfand, a Widmer brand manager, gave the students a 90-minute tour and explained the manufacturing process for the brewery. After, the group had lunch at the Widmer Gasthaus, where Rob Widmer greeted the students and shared the history of the operation.
Scott Spiegelberg, OSU career services coordinator for graduate programs, took part in the trip and said the experience was a great motivator for students hoping to get their own businesses started after earning an MBA.
“To see a young man from Oregon State realize his dream with his brother and grow it into the ninth largest brewery in the U.S. is pretty remarkable,” Speigelberg said.