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.
Adam Charnack told Asheville Citizen-Times, “We haven’t been able to brew enough beer since we started. I got sick of hearing that was a good problem to have. Every time someone would say it, I’d think, ‘Yeah, but it’s still a problem.'” Here’s the original article regarding the expansion.
Jim participated as a dual agent representing both landlord and tenant, and negotiated a long-term leasehold interest for the property that will be known in perpetuity as Hi-Wire Brewing’s Big Top. As Jim does best, he organized the team and enabled the connectivity of all moving parts of the transaction – the attorney, general contractor, the architect and lender for the tenant. Hi-Wire had embarked upon a huge growth move within less than two years of purchasing the assets of Craggie Brewing. Jim’s strategic alignment with local consultant/capital markets intermediary, Keith Pope, reemerged to source an SBA loan coupled with a Buncombe County economic development grant to finance an unprecedented new investment in a leasehold improvement package to build a new brewery allowing Hi-Wire to have a brewing capacity on par with the volume of the biggest player in the market within a couple of years plus capacity to grow.
For the Landlord: Jim Diaz works for Ms. Kochek in a role far more valuable than just real estate broker but more as a wealth management and financial advisor. Jim calls it, wealth accumulation through real property. Much like a traditional fee based financial advisor specializes in securities assets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds; Jim is a highly trained specialist in one asset class, real property. He is an integral part of his client’s long-term planning of their financial goals utilizing real estate as a healthy portion of any balanced portfolio. The intentional recruitment of Hi-Wire for Ellie’s property was calculated to stabilize her building with a credible tenant ensuring consistent cash flow to support an appreciating property value for a portfolio asset she will ultimately leave to her heirs.