Sometimes life lets you know when it’s time to move on. For Steven Rehbock, president of Saddlebock Brewery Inc., that moment came last year when both of his parents were diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. The brewery owner says he wanted to visit his parents in Florida, but could not spend much time there because of his obligations to his business in Arkansas.
“It makes you reflect on your own life,” he says. “I mean they did what they wanted the last 20, 30 years. They travelled and all and I’d really like to do that too.”
Rehbock, who turns 60 in April, says he got serious last year about finding business partners or just selling the brewery. Rehbock says running Saddlebock Brewery is too much for one person, especially for an entrepreneur like him who has a second business, Safe at Home Home Inspections PLLC.
“I’m not able to be effective in what I do at both,” he says. “So there’s so much more opportunity here to take advantage of.”
When the taproom opened its doors in September 2012, Saddlebock Brewery was one of the first craft breweries in Northwest Arkansas. The business has grown during the last six years to include the White River Cafe, a warehouse and a rental cottage on about 30 acres in Southeast Springdale.
Rehbock says he has been advised to separate his assets so his intention is to sell the brewery business, the brewing equipment and all of the brewery assets. The asking price is $750,000 and Rehbock says most of the value is in the equipment.
“There’s good will and there’s recipes and all that, but we’re really not adding price on for that,” he says. “We’re just selling it for the assets and under the condition that the brewery doesn’t move and nobody loses jobs.”
He says new tariffs implemented by the Trump administration have caused the price of brewing equipment to increase. Because of that, Rehbock says his deal could be more appealing to a potential buyer because he is selling the brewing equipment for what he paid for it, making it cheaper than buying brand new equipment.
The brewing equipment includes a four-piece, steam-heated brewhouse with a 15-barrel capacity. Saddlebock Brewery also has a variety of fermenters with a 330-barrel capacity. There is room to add more equipment to the brewery without having to construct more space if a potential buyer has interest in increasing Saddlebock’s beer production.
“We’ve been doing one or two thousand barrels a year here,” Rehbock says. “We could easily do 5,000 barrels a year here without adding anything.”
Saddlebock owner Steven Rehbock says he has spoken to a couple of buyers so far, but anticipates the sale will take a couple of months. When that happens, he intends to continue on as a consultant under contract for a period of time to help transition the company to a new owner. Rehbock says the brewery is profitable and thinks it might be a good fit for a group of people looking to get into the craft brewing industry.
“We’re looking for someone with a passion for the brewing, wants to take it forward, someone who was maybe thinking about doing this already,” he says.
While Rehbock intends to hand the brewery off to someone new, he has plans for other parts of the property. The warehouse for example, is being developed into a 5,000-square-foot venue he has named Simple Blessings Wedding and Event Center.
Over the years, Rehbock says people have asked if they could get married by a portion of Beaver Lake that runs through his property. He has allowed it, but hasn’t been charging people participating in the nuptials. Rehbock says they’ve just been happy to receive whatever patronage guests give them after tying the knot.
“I’ve been missing that opportunity to do a sit-down reception with them and there’s a lot of money in that,” he says.
For now, Rehbock is working on permits for the wedding venue and will continue speaking to potential buyers about purchasing his brewing business. He has his own thoughts about where Saddlebock Brewery could go in the future, but ultimately, it will be up to the new owner.
“I’m very proud of it and I’d like to see it continue and I wonder what they’ll do with it,” Rehbock says.