Jim Diaz met Adam Charnack & Chris Frosaker prior to their successful asset purchase of the Craggie Brewing Company in 2012. So far Craggie has been the only Asheville brewing concern to close its doors, located at 197 Hilliard Avenue in Downtown Asheville. Charnack & Frosaker were in the midst of closing their deal with Craggie when Jim was introduced to the duo by Keith Pope, a veteran banker, and at the time a capital markets intermediary/consultant who helped them source a new business loan from Asheville Saving Bank. Thus enabling Hi-Wire to purchase the failing brewery’s equipment, assume a premier lease hold interest, and begin a new legacy as one of Asheville’s finest breweries, and one of the first in what is now known as the South Slope’s Brewery District.
The Hi-Wire team quickly converted the Craggie brewing assets, assumed a lease and re-branded. The coolest part was they retained the head Brewmaster and key Craggie employees and immediately gave them the freedom to brew the beer they wanted to make. There was a surprisingly rapid market acceptance of these new beers and the new brewery soared. This was the first complete re-branding of a brewing asset in Asheville’s storied malted beverage history. Hi-Wire made great beer right out of the gate with curated talent already vested in place just needing the honor to release their own creativity.
Hi-Wire had a clear plan for the success and growth of their new brewery. Adam inspired Jim to help them on their path for growth. He laid out a compelling comparison between two North Carolina breweries. One had been in business since 1995 and currently brewing 35-40,000 barrels annually and distributing to 13 states, while the other company brewed a similar volume, but they only distributed within North Carolina. Adam asked a compelling question, “What’s the better brand?” Adam believed that if you sell as much beer as you can, as close as possible to home, then you can grow deep roots and become the go-to brand. Hi-Wire intended to launch within two years with a capacity that took Highland Brewing 20 years to ramp up to; fueled by meteoric sales growth and unprecedented demand for a another high quality local brewing company. Jim knew this would be driven by having the right real estate to enable that growth.
As timing would have it, Jim had the perfect property for Hi-Wire’s next phase in their expansion. The property was owned by one of Jim’s clients, Ellie Kochek, and she had just reached out to him for leasing services. Ms. Kochek had a long-term tenant vacating her industrial building in Biltmore Village. Jim assisted Ms. Kochek in bringing the property to market, which he then hand delivered to the Hi-Wire Team. Jim brought the Hi-Wire partners to the property, along with his dream team of contractors, Robert Todd of Red House Architecture and Bryan Sinclair of Paint Rock Builders. While touring the property, Robert told everyone that he had never seen an existing building, out of the starting gate, that was more ideally suited for a brewery than that building. Jim found the perfect building in the perfect location for their expansion.