Graham Sherman

Graham Sherman

Owner, Tool Shed Brewing Company

Graham Sherman is a self-professed “high level geek” who used his love of technology to disrupt an entire industry. In 2013, Sherman took homebrewing “too far” when he launched the Tool Shed Brewing Company. What was originally a hobby in his backyard tool shed is now a 22,000 square foot brewery with product sold in over 1000 locations. Speaking on his bumpy entrepreneurial journey, Sherman’s passion comes through in every talk as he shows audiences how to harness disruption to transform their lives.

Prior to starting Tool Shed, Sherman, along with his business partner, worked on contracts for the Canadian and US governments and military forces, installing encrypted, tactical communication networks. By day, they rolled around Afghanistan in armoured vehicles, “geeking out” in the world of satellite communications. By night, they aimed their obsessive, high-level thinking at mastering everyday tasks such as roasting their own coffee beans and brewing the perfect cuppa, learning to control their homes in Canada remotely with their iPhones, and finally, perfecting batches of beer.

After quitting his well-paying, stable government job to jump head-first into the craft brewing industry, Sherman quickly learned that his new-found vocation was actually illegal in his home province of Alberta. So, he changed his game plan from simply brewing craft beer to disrupting the industry. It took one year of relentless perseverance for the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Corporation to change their legislation. It was through this process he learned the importance of adaptability, resiliency, and collaboration in any success story, and it is these traits that helped his brewery see sustained success throughout a difficult pandemic.

Sherman has been nominated for Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year, was named one of Calgary’s 2016 “Top 40 Under 40” by Avenue magazine, and won the 2018 Business in Calgary Leaders Award.

Unleashing Your Disruptive Behaviour

The concept of “disruptive marketing” has become so buzz-wordy that we often mistake simply being “innovative” with being disruptive. Truly standing out in a tough economy, against monster-sized competition requires us to use part of our brains we don’t often access. Now it’s time to harness those powers of disruption for entrepreneurial success.

Graham Sherman has been shaking things up since he worked on private-sector government and military contracts in Afghanistan, to when he began brewing beer and changed the game for small breweries across Alberta, to today, when he transformed his business to meet the demands of a pandemic-riddled economy.

In March 2020, Sherman saw 75% of his business shut off overnight. Instead of giving up, he looked to see who was doing well — grocery delivery — and teamed up with a local organic food delivery business to convert his brewery into their storage facility and help Calgarians stay safe.

After hearing Sherman’s story and insights, audiences will walk away inspired and armed with a clear path to unleashing their own disruptive behaviour to transform their business, no matter what challenges in their path.

Why Collaboration Beats Competition

Since Graham Sherman and his business partner opened Tool Shed Brewing Company four years ago, they knew they wanted to do business differently. They didn’t want to just sell their beer, they wanted to elevate the craft beer industry in Alberta.

Today, not only do they have a 15,000 square foot headquarters in Calgary, sell their products in more than 1000 locations across Canada, and compete with giants like Labatt and Molson, they’ve also helped create a budding, competitive, AND collaborative environment for craft beer to thrive in Alberta.

It was this same collaborative working model that saved Sherman’s business during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw him transform his brewery into a storage facility for a local food delivery service,

In this high-energy presentation, Sherman shares why adopting a collaborative approach, even with your competitors, can actually be a healthier way to do business, and lead to exponential growth and a loyal customer base.

Igniting Your Passion into a Career: The Resilient Entrepreneur

The question of entrepreneurs being either born or made is irrelevant! The passion for the entrepreneurial journey is what’s important. This mindset begins simply as a spark, a business idea, a longing, a feeling. What follows next is often a lifetime of intense struggle, fear, sacrifice, and isolation. Why would ANYONE want a life of this?

With no money, no experience, Graham Sherman and his business partner successfully transformed Tool Shed Brewing Company into a 22,000 square foot brewery with product now sold in over 1,000 locations.

Most importantly, however, was the complete entrepreneurial metamorphosis Sherman underwent as an individual. Shortly after he quit his secure and comfortable day job, Sherman learned what he wanted to do was actually illegal in his home province. This set him on a bumpy entrepreneurial journey where he quickly discovered how important creative thinking and resiliency are to fuel that entrepreneurial passion. It was this that also helped him through a pandemic that saw 75% of his business disappear overnight.

These traits sit within all of us, they simply need to be ignited. Sherman shares lessons learned from his entrepreneurial journey to help audiences not only learn what to do when the spark happens, but also how to keep it fueled through whatever is thrown at it.