How many beers have you enjoyed but didn’t actually know the story behind them?
We can assure you, no story compares to the beer cans of Dog Tag Brewing Company.
Veteran Marine and Rare Under 40 Awards recipient Seth Jordan knew exactly what had to be done to launch Dog Tag Brewing in 2014 after leaving his job at ESPN in New York City and joining the U.S. Marine Corps for 9 years. Jordan and his wife moved to Montana, where he continued to honor service members by starting his company.
Dog Tag Brewing cans are unlike any other. Each can has a message about a fallen service member and are packaged differently to honor that specific member. In addition, proceeds from each can also can go to a local cause or organization of each family’s choice.
As part of our Rare Goes Yellow series, we reached out to Seth to see how 9/11 and serving in the U.S. Marine Corps impacted him as a small business owner.
Rare: Why did you start your business? What was the inspiration behind it?
Seth Jordan: I founded Dog Tag Brewing in 2014 with an invitation for the American public to “Toast a Hero” as they read the name of a fallen warrior printed on each can. I wanted to create a product that drove philanthropy and inspired a movement.
The purpose behind Dog Tag Beer is to help Gold Star Families across the country develop legacy projects in their own communities and to inspire Americans to actively honor our nation’s Fallen Warriors. To do so at the scope and scale needed, we needed to go national. Earlier this year, we were excited to announced a partnership with Pabst Brewing Company. This partnership will ensure that millions of Americans across the country will have a chance to try our beer and to join us in helping Gold Star families build the legacies of our nation’s fallen military heroes. (You can use our Beerfinder to find the beer in your local area).
R: What compelled you to serve your country?
SJ: When I graduated from Clemson University, I moved to New York City to work for ESPN. I was in the city when September 11th occurred and also lived within several blocks of ground zero. Those events changed the lives of many Americans including myself. I always wanted to serve my country and being there in the city on that day cemented the path for me to seek a commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.
R: What part of your time in service do you take with you the most?
SJ: All of it. The mentorship is second to none and I aim to give back as much as possible. The relationships you build are pretty special and many of them are built on respect and trust. When you get “out” many of us look to replicate those relationships and experiences. I think that is why so many of us from the service stay in touch.
R: What makes a veteran-owned business unique?
SJ: I think Veterans are always seeking to work on something that is important to them and resonates with their backgrounds. I see a lot of companies or non-profits started by Veterans and many times the problem they are trying to solve is something that speaks to them. In order to accomplish this new mission they want to harness their leadership skills. Veteran Leadership skills translate well into the private sector, combined with a hard work ethic and a bias for action, you tend to get excited about the potential and opportunities your work can produce.
This is all so evident when you look at the all-volunteer board of Dog Tag Brewing Foundation. 100% of the directors are US military veterans who actively served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Collectively, they have served more than 40 deployments.
Together, we take all that we’ve learned through these experiences and apply it to our work.
R: Are there specific things you learned from your time in service that you can apply to your business?
SJ: Hard work never fails and you win every time you apply yourself. I also learned very quickly and early in my military career that you need to surround yourself with good people. The staff and Board of Directors for Dog Tag Brewing Foundation are proven individuals and their experience in the military matters to me. I know we can succeed when we work together.
R: What is your favorite part about being a business owner?
SJ: As a business owner, you can have the vision and then apply all of your skills and life experiences to that vision to accomplish a goal. You get to set the course that you feel is best. And you have to be aware and involved enough to know when to change course.
R: What are the biggest challenges about owning your own business?
SJ: For me, Dog Tag Brewing is not only a business, it’s personal. I take the mission of building legacies for fallen warriors very seriously and I think about Gold Star families every moment of every day. Nearly 7,000 US military personnel have been killed in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We, as a nation have to remember and honor them. Dog Tag Brewing Foundation does this everyday by partnering Gold Star Families on legacy-building projects in their communities. Our ability to answer this need depends entirely on the public’s support of our work. This takes a certain toll on yourself and your family when you are ultimately responsible for the success of your own work. In the end, learning how to manage that stress and outside factors is up to you, the hard part is realizing it first and then reminding yourself that you can only accomplish so much and need to take care of yourself. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.