Garage sales can be gold mines full of amazing things. Whether one’s looking to get rid of unwanted items or hunting for their next hidden gem, it’s safe to say the items sold at these sales can easily delight the curious-minded. While it’s common to stumble upon antiques, furniture, and electronics, one savvy individual’s unique purchase led to the creation of a Lincoln-based company that now retails across the nation and even internationally.
The thought of purchasing used wine barrels was one that didn’t cross Ben Loseke’s mind. Co-founder of Midwest Barrel Co., the creative self-starter began his business after learning about the world of barrel aging beer. Previously under the name Loseke Trade, he quickly sold his first barrel which escalated to his next 40 sold shortly after. As business began to pick up, Loseke invested in storage units to contain his growing collection of barrels.
Initially reaching out to local breweries such as Kros Strain Brewing Co., Zipline Brewing Co., Boiler Brewing Co., White Elm Brewing Co., and Nebraska Brewing Co., Loseke shifted his marketing focus and began shipping barrels to longer-distance customers. Moving from storage units to warehouses, Loseke was balancing his growing business with a full-time job at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Working toward his Ph.D as a research technologist in the university’s viticulture program, Loseke dedicated his mornings to barrel work and afternoons to UNL studies.
What started as auction items sold under Loseke Trade’s Facebook page transformed into barrels sold online by Midwest Barrel Co. When building his website, Loseke said there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding his business name. Browsing available names online, Loseke concluded Midwest Barrel Co. would best suit his business to imply the “Midwest nice” trust factor it possesses. “At this point, we had only sold 40 to 50 barrels, so I didn’t think this would be a real thing,” Loseke said. “I didn’t know if there would be a market for selling barrels.”
Loseke said while the demand for online barrel purchases shocked him, taking the time to invest in his website has served him well by providing ease of transaction for his customers. “We’re taking the friction out of buying barrels, which has made us stand out big time,” Loseke said. Once shipping is integrated, real-time freight quotes are provided to customers to ensure an effortless online barrel-shopping experience.
Now supplying to every state across the nation and shipping to over 20 countries internationally, Loseke said his wife and co-founder of the company, Jess Loseke, has been a true visionary for Midwest Barrel Co. since taking over as Chief Executive Officer in 2017. “She’s really the person that drives the company forward,” Ben Loseke said. While he focuses on sales to national and international customers, his wife uses her optimism and creative ideas to move the company forward. “It blows my mind it turned into this,” Ben Loseke said. “Stress levels have gone up, but it’s given Jess and I some pretty amazing opportunities.”
Since taking on the position as CEO, Jess Loseke has seized her role as an entrepreneur. Between her active involvement in organizations and the continued growth of her networking connections, she strives to take Midwest Barrel Co. to the next level to best benefit the team and its customers. Through this, she has set Midwest Barrel Co. apart by bringing, what Ben Loseke calls, a “cool factor” into the world of barrels. Pushing out new blog posts, capturing creative content online, and showcasing the barrel-buying process in a unique way has helped Midwest Barrel Co. showcase itself beyond a simple barrel company.
Jess Loseke has used her leadership and entrepreneurial mindset to further her involvement in the community. While the company is recognized globally, its retail store in Lincoln provides opportunities for her to speak about her road to entrepreneurship and discuss her business-growth mindset. Sharing her stories and words of wisdom has not only helped get Midwest Barrel Co.’s name further into the community, but it has also shined a light on the personal side of the business to allow for deeper connections and make for a memorable experience.
Suppliers play a vital role in the food and beverage industry. When a purveyor goes beyond simply providing its goods, it not only shows passion but also what it’s doing for the community to best deliver value. When the Losekes landed their space in Lincoln, they didn’t realize the impact they would have on their community on top of supplying barrels to customers across the globe. Through collaboration, education, and innovation, Midwest Barrel Co. ensures a memorable experience and that the team will always stand by its mission statement: “providing damn good barrels.”