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Ghost River Brewing is Memphis to its core starting with the very basic and essential of beer ingredients – water. The superior Memphis water was essential to owner Jerry Feinstone and his partners when they started the process of forming Ghost River Brewing in 2007. “Memphis water is like starting with a blank canvas,” Jerry says. “When we brew a beer, there’s nothing we have to take out of the water. Memphis is a unique beer brewing location because the water supply is very pure and clean.”
Ghost River Brewing grew out of Bosco’s Restaurant, where Jerry first started brewing craft beer. The creation of Bosco’s Brewing Co. was monumental as it was the first craft brewery in all of Tennessee. With Bosco’s brewery well established, Jerry already had the equipment available for a small production brewery. He and his partners decided to start putting together a small plant with the capacity to produce 2,000 barrels a year, and Ghost River Brewing was born. Since 2008, they have expanded dramatically to produce 12,000 barrels a year, thanks in part to an expansion financed by Paragon.
Ghost River prides itself in identifying as an American craft brewer, which means it has small-scale production, is independently owned and controlled, and utilizes traditional brewing ingredients. Craft brewers in America arose in the 1980s after beer laws that had existed since the repeal of Prohibition started to be revised allowing for new and different beer profiles across America.
Beyond the clean and pure water source, Ghost River strives to tie their beer to Memphis in various other ways. They are a supporter of the Wolf River Conservancy and donate a portion of the proceeds of every barrel of beer sold to support the efforts of the Conservancy. The name “Ghost River” also provides a unique Memphis connection. This comes from a section of the Wolf River in Fayette County known as the “ghost section.” “The ghost section is a big cypress bog where the river loses its channel and spreads out,” Jerry explains. “The name ties in with the Memphis water because this is one of the main places where the Memphis aquifer is recharged. Plus, it’s a beautiful part of the river.” This concept was even incorporated into their iconic logo that features the cypress trees found in the ghost section of the river. A video of the ghost section of the Wolf River can be found at ghostriverbrewing.com.
Ghost River brews three or four beers at any given time. This includes their two most well known brews, Riverbank Red and Golden Ale, and a few seasonal beers that rotate throughout the year. Currently in season are the Honey Wheat and GrindHouse varieties. Their constant rotation is a reaction to the enthusiasm some of their customers show toward new and different brews. “The millennial generation has taken on craft beers as something they like because of the uniqueness of the beers,” Jerry says. “They would like to see something new every week.” This enthusiasm for the new and different resulted in adding unique one-time beers such as the Brewers’ Series, which features beers created by the individual Ghost River brewers.
The future of craft brewing looks bright, and Jerry is looking to expand Ghost River Brewing with it. Ghost River now has distributors in Jackson, Tupelo, Oxford, Starkville, and Hattiesburg, MS; West Memphis, AR; and West Tennessee almost to the Tennessee River. Although expanding to new markets, their focus will always be in the Mid-South. “Staying regional is where we want to be, and, as we get more and more craft breweries, people’s interest will be in the regional breweries closest to them.” For Jerry Feinstone, it all comes down to the beer. “What’s the best part about being a craft brewer?” he says. “Beer is a sociable product, and you get to share in people’s good times.”
When Whit Greenway lost his job in 1989 because his workplace was sold, rather than viewing it as a setback, he jumped on the opportunity to take his expertise in the home services industry and his desire to provide quality service to start his own company. Little did he know that the misfortune of a lost job would result in the establishment of a home services company with growing locations in Memphis and Nashville. After selling his company in 2000 and retiring, he started it again in 2003 as Greenway Home Services. Whit has enjoyed more than 25 years of watching his companies grow from a one-man operation to a multi-city company with 125 employees and an average of more than 300 service calls per day.
Greenway Home Services provides HVAC, plumbing, and appliance services for residents in the Memphis and Nashville areas. Whit attributes his success to focusing not on growth but on service, knowing that with excellent service, growth will naturally follow. “The problem is not how to get the phone to ring,” he explains. “The problem is the phone rings, now how do you provide the service. I think if you do quality service, you just grow.” Customer service is so important to Greenway Home Services that it has dedicated a full-time employee to call each customer to ensure they received quality service and, if they did not, to find out what they can do better.
This high level of service is evidenced by the manner in which Greenway Home Services expanded to the Nashville area in 2006. By continuing the same approach of remaining focused on great quality service, Greenway Home Services has had great success in Nashville and hopes to see that location reach the same size as its Memphis counterpart.
When approached to initiate a banking relationship with Paragon, Whit had his reservations about moving to a smaller bank. “I thought there was no way Paragon could hold a candle to [my big bank]. I didn’t think they could compete and do everything I wanted to do,” he says. After a year of debating, Whit made the change and was very pleasantly surprised with the emphasis on service and the personal touch that Paragon could offer his banking experience. Whit describes banking with Paragon as “hassle-free” and as a place where the tellers know his name instead of just being another face in the crowd.
A value that Paragon and Greenway Home Services hold in common is exceptional service, which Whit has expressed that he had the opportunity to witness firsthand. “One of the reasons I moved, was that it took the big bank a week to get back to me when I asked them about something. To me that was unacceptable. When I call Paragon, they always respond quickly and usually it’s within a day.”
In the last few years, Whit has transitioned to sharing leadership of his company with his older brother Carl, who has a business background of running top franchises. This gives Whit more time for his first passion, which is to spend time with his two daughters and his two grandchildren. It also allows him time to enjoy his second passion, which is traveling across America.
Whit Greenway boils down his success and business advice to one phrase, “My philosophy is simple. Just take care of people the way you want to be taken care of.” Paragon is proud to have a customer who promotes the value of excellent customer service for the clients it serves.