Photo by: Steve Babin
In addition to lending his mechanical engineering background and expertise for NASA, commercial customers, and the green energy industry, Bruce Weddendorf is also co-founder and Vice President of Straight to Ale, where he and his partners have guided its growth from a small microbrewery to a popular space to enjoy beer, wine, spirits and inventive food from Ale’s Kitchen.
EVENT: You are a business partner of the second largest and second oldest brewery in the state. How did Straight to Ale come to be?
BW: We founded Straight to Ale with [my wife] Jo, Dan Perry and Colin Austin in 2009. We built it as a very small company and afterwards realized that the demand for beer was enormous. We were in the right place at the right time. It’s been a wild ride since then!
EVENT: Why did you decide to start a brewery?
BW: We really wanted to make Huntsville a more fun place to live. We wanted to provide a place for people to enjoy themselves, to be locally focused and be a point of pride for the community. Beer is something that people can bond over. It is a social lubricant, if you will. When we started the business, we weren’t planning to make money. We just wanted to pay the bills and make as much great beer as we could.
EVENT: What’s it been like to grow such a successful business?
BW: We have been super happy about being able to change Huntsville for the better and to help improve the neighborhood. After we became established at Campus 805, we have seen this area become an epicenter of entertainment. We are proud of the impact we’ve made on the city.
EVENT: What do you like to do during your leisure time?
BW: I love to go out to the lake and hang out on the boat. But honestly, I enjoy my time [at STA.] I enjoy our employees and the creativity there. We give our people a lot of room to try new ideas. If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like you’re working.
EVENT: Who do you give the most credit to?
BW: Jo is a huge part of everything I’ve done and a vital part of STA. She took risks right along with me to join in as partner, and she does a lot of work behind the scenes. We wouldn’t have gotten to where we are without her.
EVENT: What advice would you give people wanting to start their own business?
BW: Do something you love and do something to help people. Do something you’re passionate about. We have loved this business from the beginning. Seeing people be delighted when they drink our beer is what it’s all about.