From working for a yogurt giant to making their own booze, these manufacturers are in your fridge and pantry

Sometimes, when you want to break into a new industry or start your own company, you have to put in some sweat equity first. That’s never easy, especially when you have a young family, but Brandon Olivier of Raymond says it’s the best way to learn. Olivier actually works full-time at Walmart in supply chain management, but on his days off, he clocks in at Great North Aleworks in Manchester. He says it’s a perfect fit.

“They knew exactly what I was interested in, they were willing to teach me and train me, and it’s been awesome ever since,” Olivier said.

Brandon Olivier, 25
Brewer & cellerman
Great North Aleworks

Work location: Manchester
Makes: Beer
Lives: Raymond
Education: High school diploma
Salary: $10/hour, part-time

Learning how to make beer

What he was interested in was learning how to run a small or large-scale brewery, either to work professionally as a brewer or start his own brewery someday.

He first caught the brewing bug about five years ago after touring Allagash Brewing Co. in Portland, Maine – a fairly big brewery – and then visiting Bissell Brothers Brewing Co., also in Portland, which was pretty small.

“This is awesome,” he remembers thinking to him-self. “I can do this.”

He got a homebrew kit for Christmas from his brother-in-law Connor Mele, and his wife Marissa pushed him to pursue it as a career, even while nurs-ing a newborn infant.

He’s been at Great North for about one year. His daughter is now 17 months old.

And in that time, he’s already learned a lot, just by brewing, canning, kegging, cleaning and organizing the brewery space and constantly checking the fer-mentation process.

Mainly, it helps him to bridge the gap between the tiny homebrew scale he first dabbled with to the real production scale of a brewery like Great North.

“Everybody wants to make good beer,” Olivier said.

Organizing all the yogurt

Stonyfield yogurt was Scarlett Morel’s second manu-facturing job when she started as a temp in June 2017. But before the Manchester resident even started, she knew she was going to love it.

“I read about the company and automatically fell in love with their culture,” Morel said.

Morel first came to the country from the Dominican Republic about five years ago. Her first manufacturing job was at Amazon Robotics in Reading, Mass. She worked there from 2013 to 2017. It was there she dis-covered a love for manufacturing. But Stonyfield’s peo-ple made the job fun, and the constant challenges from day to day ensured she never lost interest.

Scarlett Morel, 25
Production planner
Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry

Makes: Yogurt
Lives: Manchester
Education: High school (finishing associate’s degree in May)
Salary: $60,000

“It’s a fun, challenging and continuously changing job,” Morel said. “It doesn’t ever get boring.”

She was brought on full time in January. As pro-duction planner, it’s her job to make sure customer orders, supply chain, production and logistics are all in line. And it’s tricky enough just dealing with production alone.

“There are six lines in here that run continuously and two of them simultaneously,” she said.

Every day is different; some days she’ll be in meetings for hours, other days she’s trying to get a ship-ment of milk. And needs to think outside the box to solve the problems that present themselves.

Morel said the company is a great place for a young person like her to learn the ropes while climbing them.

“I don’t think there’s a better way to start than starting from scratch. And here you have an oppor-tunity to learn a lot at once,” Morel said.

$30K and an Italian dream

While Phil Mastroianni is 35-years-old now, he was only 25 when he started his spirits company, producing and selling more than 25,000 cases of booze per year.

Mastroianni had his college degree in accounting and was working as a certified public accountant for a while, but he always had other passions.

Phil Mastroianni, 35

Chief lemon peeler & co-owner Fabrizia Spirits, Salem

Makes: Limoncello, Italian margaritas
Lives: Hopkinton, Mass.
Education: Bachelor degree
Industry salary forc hief executive: $83,920

“I had all these hobbies, usually that had to do with Italy,” he said.

One of those hobbies was making limoncello, a lem-on-based liqueur popular in Italy. He made it so well, his uncle suggested starting a company.

“All of a sudden, a lightbulb went off. And I could not think of a reason not to do it,” Mastroianni said.

In researching the market, he found he didn’t like many of the options out there. He knew he could do better, and sell his product for less.

He started the company with only $30,000. When he tells other business people that, they always want to shake his hand because “you never hear that story.”

Most of the initial expenses went into the building lease and the glass bottles. The employees used one 80-gallon stainless steel tank and a 200-gallon plastic tank where they did most of the mixing.

At first, they were hand-bottling and hand-labeling everything.

“It was an incredible amount of work,” Mastroianni said.

In a short amount of time, they had scaled up and learned everything the hard way. Eventually they got new equipment, such as a gravity filling bottler, a hot water heater and a semi-automatic labeler. Four years ago, Fabrizia got a legitimate assembly line and this year installed an in-line automatic labeling machine.

The company has been growing at a rate of about 42 percent a year for the past decade. And the chang-es still haven’t caught up to Mastroianni, who up until a few years ago when he got engaged was taking a $40,000 per year salary.

“I still feel like the guy who was labeling his bottles in his parents basement,” he said.