By Lindsay Seagraves
Just when Back Forty Beer Company founder Jason Wilson thought he’d reached the top of the mountain after winning a spot as one of the top 100 small businesses in the nation, the driven entrepreneur continues to reach new peaks – including a prestigious one from his alma mater.
Wilson said Back Forty was nominated for the 2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the beginning of 2015. The U.S. Chamber reported they selected winners from a record number of applicants all over the nation, naming winners based on their success, innovation and contributions to economic growth and free enterprise.
When asked how it felt to win the nation-wide award, he replied, “It was fantastic. We’ve won awards for our beer before; last year winning Small Manufacturer of the Year,” he said. “But awards like this are a little sweeter.”
Wilson described the Top Tiger Business award given to the company by Auburn University College of Business as the best businesses run or owned by Auburn University graduates.
Presented by the Harbert College of Business and Business Alabama magazine, the Top Tigers program celebrates entrepreneurial success of alums.
To top off the many heights Back Forty is reaching, Wilson said the company also has plans to unveil natural craft sodas.
“We have a sweet tea recipe that may come into the market in 2015,” he said. “We’re also planning on doing some root beers, ginger ales; other natural craft sodas.”
Wilson explained the company was still in the researching and planning phase of producing the craft sodas.
“These are some products customers can look forward to seeing on the shelves in the future,” he explained, adding, “We do have a lot of fun tinkering around.”
Wilson and his team will be traveling to Washington, D.C. June 9 to attend the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit.
There, Back Forty will be recognized alongside seven regional finalists and 100 Blue Ribbon winners. The beer company will also be up for the overall winner of the 2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business Award. The overall winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize.
Wilson said the Back Forty team would be stopping in to see customers in all parts of the city while in Washington.
“We sell our products there and are active in the government affairs community for the Brewers Association of America,” he said. “So we’ll not only be visiting customers there but also discussing legislative issues.”
Back Forty is also eligible for a Community Excellence Award, which recognizes one business favorable in the community.
“All of the top 100 [small business winners] are entered in the Community Excellence Award,” Wilson explained. “You can log on and vote and they will present that award along with the small business of the year.”
Wilson said of the two awards, “It’s always nice to get recognition outside of your core product.”
The voting polls for Community Excellence Award have now been closed, but Back Forty customers can log on to uschamber.com to learn more about Blue Ribbon award winners and learn about the America’s Small Business Summit.