William McGehee, 37
Owner, Tin Roof Brewing Co. and Doug Olinde Event Rentals
- Being named 2017 Young Business Person of the Year by Business Report.
- Winning the 2018 Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal for Voodoo Pale Ale.
- Having Tin Roof Brewing named one of LSU’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies.
Volunteers with several community organizations through Tin Roof.
NAME ONE BOOK THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU PROFESSIONALLY
Good to Great. It has a lot of valuable lessons and truths of running a business and reiterates some of the tough decisions that have to be made to make a business successful.
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs and I never really knew specifically what I wanted to do, but I remember not wanting anyone to be able to tell me what to wear to work. Maybe it stems from wearing school uniforms or just not liking people telling me what to do, but that’s what I remember.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB, HOW OLD WERE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
I was a busboy at a restaurant in junior high, and later became a waiter. I learned a LOT about people and how to interact with all different types of people. Those lessons are still with me today and I try to think not only about what I learned of how to treat people, but more often than not, how NOT to treat people.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?
Probably my current one. The event and event rental world is quite unique.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH IN BATON ROUGE, AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH THERE?
I love to frequent a lot of Baton Rouge lunch places, but probably my most frequent is the Overpass Merchant. I can’t miss the Tuesday special chicken fried chicken
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
To this point (other than my fantastic family), I think I’m most proud of all that the Tin Roof family has created and accomplished in the last eight years. It is by no means “my” accomplishment but a collective accomplishment of our staff, friends, family and fans. I think beer represents fellowship and the countless number of great people I’ve met, heard their story, and possibly shared a beer with, is astounding. A friend in the industry told me when we first started that in the beer world, “we sell fun.” I’ve always tried to keep that in mind and can’t describe how great it feels to see someone having fun and something you created is a part of it (whether they’re actually drinking our beer or not).
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST FULFILLING MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
This is somewhat of a repeat of the above answer but seeing something that I was a part of creating being a piece of other people’s’ lives is a great feeling. We have a family night once a month where families come for fun, we host charity events and we’ve even had an actual wedding ceremony at the brewery. Just knowing that I got to be a part of all of those things is very gratifying.
WHAT WAS YOUR PROFESSIONAL “AHA” MOMENT?
Fortunately or unfortunately, those still happen everyday. I think the biggest “AHA” moment was realizing that all professionals and companies make mistakes, but the biggest mistakes are not taking what you learned from them and getting better
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY?
Pretty much everything in my professional career.
WHAT GIVES YOU PROFESSIONAL INSPIRATION?
From a long term perspective, I really believe in Peter Drucker’s quote, “the best way to predict the future is to create it,” and that fuels me with an eye towards the future. On a day to day basis, seeing my colleagues work hard to accomplish goals and get the job done for our companies is truly inspiring.
WHAT IS THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN FROM A COLLEAGUE OR BOSS?
Since I’m technically the boss at both of my jobs, I’m not sure any of the compliments I’ve ever gotten were on a merit basis. In all seriousness, it means the most to me when I get some kind of acknowledgment of a “job well done” while we’re working in the trenches together and show I can pull my own weight.
ARE YOU ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA? IF SO, ON WHICH PLATFORMS ARE YOU MOST ACTIVE?
I’m active enough to keep up with friends and see what everyone is doing, but I’m pretty bad at actually posting much. I’m typically on Instagram. I really like the image driven posts and get a lot of inspiration for work ideas there.
HOW MANY TEXTS DO YOU SEND ON AN AVERAGE DAY? HOW MANY EMAILS?
I send a lot of texts. Most friends and colleagues would say that I don’t respond to a whole lot. I check emails constantly but I think texting is probably the most used form of communication for me
HOW LOW WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR REMAINING PHONE OR COMPUTER BATTERY LIFE GET (IN %) BEFORE YOU HAVE AN ANXIETY ATTACK?
We have several delivery trucks and I’ve had to buy about eight different car chargers in the last four months. I live pretty dangerously on the battery percentage and then always regret not charging my phone when it dies…
HOW MANY UNREAD MESSAGES ARE IN YOUR INBOX RIGHT NOW?
I’m too embarrassed to say.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE APP AT THE MOMENT?
Various podcasting apps. I drive around a lot for work so I enjoy listening to a vast array of shows and topics
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE PAST DECADE?
Not referring to work related advancements, I’d say pic sharing, facetiming, google photo, etc. Being able to share moments with people and keep up with friends and family from afar is great.
WHAT TECHNOLOGY DO YOU WISH WAS NEVER INVENTED?
It’s a double-edged sword because we rely on them so much and they provide so much utility, but smartphones have taken over our lives. When was the last time you saw someone with a flip phone staring at their phone constantly?
WHAT TIME DO YOU GET UP ON WORKDAY MORNINGS?
6:30 a.m. to 6:45a.m. unless our kids wake us up before that. Well, if my wife makes me get up, too.
BREAKFAST AT HOME? BREAKFAST ON THE GO? BREAKFAST AT YOUR DESK? NO BREAKFAST AT ALL?
Usually oatmeal or a protein bar at home, but if I’m running behind, which is often, it’s on the go.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WERE “GROWN UP?”
I didn’t just do a victory lap for college, I went to law school, and while I got a great education, I tended to focus on the “networking” activities while there. So, I got a delayed start in the real world. There was a gap between graduating law school and the brewery opening where I had to find odd jobs to help pay the bills. That’s when it first hit. Having our first child five years later put the final stamp on it.
WHAT WAS THE BEST VACATION YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN?
My wife and I went to Italy for two weeks with no itinerary, it was amazing
FAVORITE GIFT YOU WERE GIVEN AS A CHILD?
The first thing that comes to mind was my Atari. I was an expert at Frogger and that’s probably the last piece of technology I mastered.
WHICH TALENT OR SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
I’d love to be able to fall asleep on command and wake up refreshed. It sounds amazing.
WHAT’S A NICKNAME YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE FOR YOU?
My dad has always called me Wool based on my curly afro hairstyle my mother graced me with as a child.
WHAT ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT?
I try not to pick up coins that aren’t heads up and I always choose things that are on the left.
WHO FASCINATES YOU?
People who are passionate about something.
You would probably think some kind of beer, but I would have to say margaritas.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BAND OR SONG?
Too many to name one, but Toto’s “Africa” gets me every time.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
A Rottweiler named Rosie and a mutt named Wallace.
Spending time with family, exercising, LSU Sports, reading, etc.
TELL US ABOUT A MOMENT THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE.
I was in law school and I knew that I didn’t want to practice law pretty quickly. A moment that changed my life was when I told my parents I didn’t want to practice and they said “do whatever you want to do.” Their lack of disappointment and faith in me that I would figure something out was a great catalyst to choose a different path.
WHAT’S THE NEXT BIG PERSONAL OR CAREER CHALLENGE YOU PLAN TO TAKE ON?
We’re opening a brewpub in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is going to be a lot of fun. We’ve also got a few other things in the hopper, so stay tuned.
WHAT CONCERNS YOU MOST ABOUT THE FUTURE?
Providing a healthy environment for our youth to grow up in. With technology and information being ever present, I just worry that our kids won’t get to experience the same kind of upbringing we did. We didn’t have the internet or iPhones, so it worries me about how this young generation will grow up.
WHAT GIVES YOU THE MOST HOPE ABOUT THE FUTURE?
The other side of the coin is that every day I see younger and younger people doing amazing things. There will always be difficult times and with politics and media seeming to try to divide everyone, seeing the way we respond to adversity as a community and on a larger scale, especially these last few years, gives me hope for the future.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR FUTURE FORTY UNDER 40 HONOREES?
Continue doing all the awesome things you’re doing in the community. People notice and it affects a great change.
DO YOU PLAN TO BE IN THE CAPITAL REGION FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Yes. I love Baton Rouge and am proud to call it home. It’s changed a lot since I got here in 2002. It’s centrally located to family, close to the beach and a quick drive to New Orleans. We’re getting a lot more flight options that makes traveling easier. I like that we have some big city amenities but still maintain a small town feel.
IF NAMED KING FOR A DAY, WHAT IS ONE CHANGE YOU WOULD MAKE IN BATON ROUGE?
It would take more than one day but I would throw everything I had at fixing road infrastructure.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN BATON ROUGE; WHAT WORKS AND WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT?
I think quality of life in Baton Rouge is very good and that it is what you make of it. There are tons of events and community activities. There are lots of jobs and lots of restaurants. I would like to see the school systems improve but it seems we’re working on it. Traffic needs to improve. We need to be forward thinkers and keep working to make Baton Rouge a place people want to live and not somewhere they grew up or got stuck after going to college. I think we’re well on the way and hope I can do my part to help.