Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing’s “Boneyard” is the perfect place to grab a socially distant craft beer with friends.
The brewery’s outdoor biergarten is a little patio oasis just outside downtown Tulsa, lined with picnic tables and furnished by an outdoor bar.
The Boneyard is only one of several projects Dead Armadillo has done to expand its business since becoming a Blue Sky Bank customer in 2016.
“We upgraded our brewery equipment, our tiller and our brew system, our boiler, all the things that make the brewery work,” explains Tony Peck, co-founder and managing partner of Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing. “We tripled the size of our brew house. This was all through Blue Sky.”
Dead Armadillo was originally working with another bank when it launched in 2013.
But when it came time to upgrade the brewery’s canning line, which required brewery equipment financing , Peck says that bank gave them the cold shoulder.
“That other bank didn't really seem like they were interested in working with small businesses at the time,” Peck says. “It was really strange. We were doing better than we'd ever done and you'd have thought they'd have jumped all over it, but they weren't really interested in helping us. It was baffling.”
Peck and Dead Armadillo weren’t alone in feeling ignored by their original bank.
About 63 percent of small business owners feel like their bank does not appreciate their business, according to a 2018 J.D. Power study.
The negative experience Peck had with his first bank made him feel unsure of his own business plans.
“It felt pretty crappy,” Peck said. “I mean, it made me a little upset. It made me question whether or not, ‘Am I just wrong? Are we not doing that great? Am I just clueless?’ And I don't know what [that bank’s] deal was, but Blue Sky Bank jumped all over it.”
The experience Dead Armadillo had with Blue Sky Bank was a night-and-day difference, Peck says.
He could tell from his first conversation with Blue Sky Bank lender Ryan McDaniel that this was a bank built to serve small business owners like himself.
“They were really interested in being a partner with us, like a true partner,” Peck says of Blue Sky Bank. “They were interested in investing in our ability to grow, investing in our future basically, which is really cool. The other guys were just like, "Yeah, it's money and we're going to charge you for it. With Blue Sky, it felt more like a partnership."
Thanks to Ryan and Blue Sky Bank, Dead Armadillo staff was near the front of the line for Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds.
This money allowed Peck’s staff to keep working despite the pandemic’s impact on business.
“We had money in our bank and other people were still confused about [PPP], and were posting about missing out on the funds,” Peck says. “I guess we were just on top of it. Ryan was on top of it.”
Though the brewery couldn’t serve customers at the time, Peck and his staff took advantage of this extra time and available funds to work on a new project — tripling the size of the taproom to comfortably serve more customers.
Dead Armadillo has been riding a wave of popularity because of its Tulsa Flag beer, and it has no plans to slow down.
In fact, it plans to begin distribution of the Tulsa Flag beer to Kansas soon.
Growing his business this rapidly, Peck says, likely wouldn’t have been possible if he’d stuck with the original bank.
“The reason banks are out there is to give money, but there are customer service aspects that matter a lot, especially for a small business,” Peck explains.
What he needed was a bank that actually wanted to serve small business owners, and had a skilled team of lenders to do it well.
At Blue Sky Bank, Peck found all of that, and more. Blue Sky Bank shared his passion for serving and being a part of the Tulsa business community, Peck says.
“They are built for local, which is awesome,” he explains. “And that’s what we thrive on. We’re a local brewery. We really rely on that local vibe to bring people in and support us. So they're a small bank, but it's local and we just went well together. It seems like they are built for small businesses.”
While Dead Armadillo’s taproom is temporarily closed for remodeling, visitors can still grab a beer (or several) in the Boneyard at 1004 E 4th St in Tulsa.
The biergarten’s hours of operation are:
You can also book the Boneyard, a 5,000-sq. ft. space equipped with two restrooms, for private events by visiting the Dead Armadillo website.
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