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Point Judith Lighthouse, Narragansett, Rhode Island ∣ Image by Falkenpost from Pixabay

Narragansett, Rhode Island is on the Northeastern seaboard of the U.S. and is known primarily for its beautiful beaches and coastline. But Narragansett is also the name of a longstanding regional beer.

 

February 27, 2019  | 2 min read

Douglass Hatcher

Narragansett Beer: A Great Company to Recognize on #BeHumbleDay

“It’s not my brand or even our brand — it’s a public trust,” says CEO Mark Hellendrung.

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Narragansett beer was founded in 1890. It dominated the New England beer market for a good part of the twentieth century. In fact, it owned two-thirds of that market from 1919 to 1967. To put that into perspective, they held that market share from the year of the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War I to the release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album.

Additionally, over the past year, the brewery grew 21 percent. And it has plans to build a new facility in 2020. But perhaps most emblematic of Narragansett’s success is that the beer is being sold again at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, after having been pushed out for years by a larger global brand. To say that a lot went into this incredible turnaround is an understatement. But in our view, one of the key foundational factors underpinning this success story is the mindset of humility.

Here’s how Hellendrung views the company he leads: “It’s not my brand or even our brand — it’s a public trust,” he says. “Our customers let us know what they want and we listen to them every day. If we get arrogant, we’re going to hear about it — and fast.”

Clearly, humility is at the core of Narragansett’s business and allows the company to prioritize its customers above everything else.

By the 1980s, however, the brand — which had been bought out by another beer company in the mid-1960s — was a shell of its former self. But Mark Hellendrung, former CEO of Nantucket Nectars, and a group of Rhode Island investors saw something in Narragansett others didn’t see. They saw a regional legacy brand with a storied past and the potential for a future. They bought the company in 2005.

Would you believe that in the span of six years, production of Narragansett beer went from 6,000 cases a year to 600,000 cases a year? No, we didn’t accidentally type a couple of extra zeros.  The year 2017 marked Narragansett’s twelfth consecutive year of growth. They did $8 million in sales in the first half of 2017 alone.

*Excerpted from our book, Win With Decency: How to Use Your Better Angels for Better Business.

**Quotes and research from articles in Barron’s and Entrepreneur.com. Additional background is from www.narragansettbeer.com

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