Young Henrys Founder Oscar McMahon Has a Favour To Ask Of You

young henrys

Without small business, we’re nothing. TheLatch— and GoDaddy have teamed up to rally behind local businesses and entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time of change.

We’re speaking to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country to better understand how they’re adapting to stay open, how they’re keeping their community safe, and how we can support them now during this time, and beyond. We’re focused on keeping Australia open for business, even if doors are closed. #OpenWeStand

Beloved beer and brewing company, Young Henrys, was founded by Richard Adamson and Oscar McMahon some eight years ago over a schooner.

The ever-expanding team has seen much success in this time, launching popular new brews and cool collaborations while forever working to improve its environmental footprint and work with likeminded individuals.

The team had big plans, as they’ve had since day one, and then the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia, impacting their business overnight on a scale they’d not yet seen — despite already surviving more than a few blunders since 2012.

Now, the team have a favour to ask us and Australia as a whole. While showing your support for the business by buying some Newtowners is one thing, there is something more valuable Australia can do to ensure the brewery returns to a bright economy.

“When you’re making a purchase, now and in the next three months, please do your research, and make informed purchases from Australian companies, buying Australian products. We need to keep money in our economy. Buy Australian-grown, Australian-made, and Australian-owned products.”

We sat down with founder Oscar McMahon (metaphorically, of course… we’re nothing if not committed social distancing), to find out how Young Henrys is pivoting its business in this time to support the community and find out more about the steps they’re taking to bounce back stronger than ever.

Katie Skelly: Oscar, thank you so much for chatting with me today. It’s a big question to kick off with, but I suppose I’d like to know just how you’ve been affected by this pandemic?

Oscar McMahon: We’ve been massively affected. Thankfully, Young Henrys is a strong enough business that even with everything that’s happening around us, we know we’re going to get through this.

The closing of pubs and bars saw the majority of our revenue disappear overnight, so we have had to pivot our focus to online sales and bottleshop sales. The fact that bottle-Os can still operate and sell our products is a godsend right now.

We’ve had to stand down 90% of our staff, and those that remain working have had to accept drastic wage cuts. And this is standard across our industry. A lot of my close friends own bars, pubs and restaurants. To see all of them without income, and in a position that forces them to stand down most of their staff through no fault of their own, is really hard for us to comprehend.

But the outpouring of support for others, and the conversations the people our industry are having with one another are what’s helping us see the other side of this.

“I’ve learned the tenacity of our people, and I’ve learned exactly what our business can survive upon.”

KS: I’m so happy to hear you’re finding support in your industry. It’s more important than ever for us all to check in and help each other out. Have you put any immediate plans in plans to pivot your business?

OM: We have. We’ve started to produce hand sanitiser, which is something I never thought we’d be doing at Young Henrys. But with our equipment we have the ability to distil ethanol, and with the TGA relaxing its rules around hand sanitiser certification, we’re able to produce the product according to the WHO guidelines and recipe.

It’s a small revenue stream, but it’s more important for us to be able to support the medical community in this time; an industry that’s experiencing a drastic shortage in the product.

We had local health businesses reach out to ask if we’d considered using our facilities to help them in this way. It’s really heartening to know that the strength of our brand has meant medical professionals feel supported in asking us for help. They know we’re industrious and open-minded enough to try something new in support of others.


KS: You’ve seen so much success since your founding in 2012. How might this have prepared Young Henrys for the challanges around this pandemic?

OM: This is one of the biggest hurdles Young Henry has ever faced. Being an eight-year-old business, we have seen some scary financial situations in the past. Every business has fuck-ups with large financial penalties, and I do think that going into this crisis, we know the areas we need to focus on because we’ve learnt from those mistakes in the past.

One thing I have learned, is that our team and the culture that we have fostered within our business, is the element that I now respect the most, and I am certain our people are the key to our success. Every step of the way in this scenario, every employee has offered what they can to help — even those we had to stand down.

“We’re steadfastly focused on the future. We believe in Young Henrys and we believe in our future.”

KS: It’s such a beautiful thing to experience support from employees, even when they were also affected. Tell us, how can our readers support Young Henrys right now?

OM: Look, if people want to support us, they can buy a six-pack of Young Henrys from their local bottle shop or purchase a case of beer from our online store. And that would be excellent.

But I would ask a little more. We need to come back to a bright economy. And what we really need people to do is this.

When you’re making a purchase, now and in the next three months, please do your research, and make informed purchases from Australian companies, buying Australian products. We need to keep money in our economy. Buy Australian-grown, Australian-made, and Australian-owned products.

KS: What steps have you put in place to come back strong when everything is back to normal?

OM: We’re working with Pingala, an Australian-run organisation that runs community-owned solar projects. We have a community-owned solar farm on our roofs, and we’re working to install another solar farm on the other side of our warehouses right now.

Once that’s installed, most of the brewery’s power during the day will be solar, with the remaining coming from another solar farm from July 1. So when we return to regular operation after all of this, we’ll be 100% run on solar energy.


KS: How have you found support from your peers and your industry? 

OM: From our peers, friends and family the support has been incredible. Everyone wants to help each other and do what they can to offer valuable support, a hand, a loan, whatever it is that people need. And it’s just been incredible. We’re lucky.

Show your support for Young Henrys by shopping the products or purchasing your ‘quarantinnies’ from the Young Henrys online store now. Beyond that, please shop Australian-made and grown products in this time, as Oscar McMahon asks.