I have worked in the craft beer industry for more than 15 years, representing a deeply diverse range of clients throughout the Southeast. From startup brewpubs in Louisiana to large regional breweries in Tennessee, from the state’s first production brewery in Mississippi to microbreweries and micro-distilleries in Alabama, I have counseled clients on myriad of issues including corporate structure, regulatory matters, intellectual property, distribution, and labor and employment matters.
Within this industry, I have played a meaningful role in effectuating legislative change in multiple states and have organized, operated, and helped fund a statewide association. I have been interviewed by MSNBC, the Financial Times, Brewbound, Craft Brewing Business, and more beer blogs, newspapers, and lifestyle magazines than I can count.
I have spoken to groups, from conference settings to civic clubs, giving more than 100 presentations on the craft beer industry. I have also helped curate and create the curriculum for the Business of Craft Beer distance-learning program at the University of Vermont.
My experience in the craft beer industry has ushered in opportunities to work with innovative startup companies and entrepreneurial-minded people on a host of additional projects too, ranging from powdered kale and kombucha products to white label distilled spirits and elevated pre-packaged desserts.
This is my canned professional bio and, subject to slight variation, is one that I have shared with people in a number of different professional settings. In fact, on one recent occasion in Gulfport, I was privileged to have my friend, confidant, colleague, and client, Mark Henderson, the founder of Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in Kiln, share my bio as he introduced me to the Masters Leadership Class of the Gulf Coast Business Council where I was presenting on why Mississippi desperately needs to modernize its approach to economic development by focusing more time, money, and effort on the development and cultivation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mississippi.
After delivering a more flattering and eloquent introduction and bio than I ever could, Mark concluded his introduction of me by emphatically stating, “I made Matthew.”
The fact is, truer words may not have been uttered that day. It is true; Mark and his incredibly talented wife and Lazy Magnolia co-founder, Leslie, did make me … or at least played a significant part in making the professional me.
We, as individual human beings, are unique and have tremendous gifts to share; but, on some level, we are an amalgamation of our experiences and relationships, both personal and professional. The Hendersons made a pivotal decision 15-plus years ago to give me an opportunity to represent their startup company – a company that literally birthed the craft beer industry in Mississippi. This was, and has been every day since, an honor and privilege for me.
The legacy of my start with Lazy Magnolia ultimately led to the launch of a valuable entity for Mississippi, the creation of the Mississippi Brewers Guild. As the state’s trade association that represents the craft beverage industry locally for Mississippi and on the national scale, I serve as its executive director. This organization has been extremely instrumental in passing critical pro-business bills that is helping the state better support and encourage the growth of breweries and distilleries – that in turn also benefits Mississippi’s overall workforce and economy.
My work with Lazy Magnolia opened many doors for me, including the opportunity to build a regional food and beverage practice that has since introduced me to some of the most creative and entrepreneurial-minded people I have ever met. My professional journey has been an incredible one, and I am grateful for the people and opportunities it has presented me. And while I try to advise my clients on navigating legal risks and educate them on the regulations they are subject to, I often feel as if I have gained more wisdom and insight from them than I have had the privilege to impart.
» Matthew P. McLaughlin is an attorney with McLaughlin, PC in Jackson, Mississippi, and serves as the executive director of the Mississippi Brewers Guild. Matthew’s passion is working with creative and entrepreneurial-minded people and organizations, having worked with and advised hundreds of entrepreneurs, startups, and social innovators throughout the Southeastern United States. He may be contacted at email@example.com or 601-487-4550, or you may visit www.mclaughlinpc.com for more information.
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