Knowing the value of community and a job well done

Bob Montgomery – Assistant Manager, Hill Farmstead Brewery– Greensboro Bend, VT

Feature | Greensboro Bend, VT | 18 May 2021
Bob Montgomery explains Hill Farmstead Brewery’s philosophy, and strong belief in supporting the local community and infrastructure around them, by giving back as best they can. ILO Photos/ John Isaac
Majestically situated in the green rolling hills just about halfway between Montpelier in Vermont and the Canadian border of Quebec, Hill Farmstead Brewery carries on a 220-year heritage of artisanship.

For Bob Montgomery, a proud seventh generation Vermonter, this part of New England is simply home. Bob is the Assistant Manager Hill Farmstead Brewery and has been here since its launch in 2010.

“I was here on the grand opening day as a customer and probably within the first two months, I was helping bottle beer and helping with events and things like that,” he says nostalgically.

Although Bob has a deep commitment to the ethos and products of Hill Farmstead, his journey to this point was not an obvious one.

With a degree in music and an affinity for photography, Bob thought he would be a music teacher when he graduated from college.

“I was going to be a music teacher. I was operatically trained, I played guitar, I played trumpet for 16 years and I played most brass instruments in the band at some point,” Montgomery says.

“I became a music writer for a time for various European music magazines just remotely for fun,” this would then lead him to “a magazine editor’s job at a little business to business trade journal for agriculture, landscaping, and lawn care,” in Vermont.

The team at Hill Farmstead Brewery embody important skills such as hard work, honesty, a combination of empathy and sympathy, and good communication skills. This is an integral part of how the team here work together for success. ILO Photos/ John Isaac
“We had, I would say one of the most popular agricultural magazines of the Northeast, and I did that for 18 years,” he says with pride. It was during this time that he developed a friendship with Shaun Hill, owner and founder of Hill Farmstead Brewery, which would land him a job.

“I would take vacation days and come here and work. I think I had made myself annoyingly invaluable, where Shaun felt like he had to hire me,” Bob says with a big smile and chuckle.

Montgomery’s hard work ethic, commitment, and loyalty to the brewery as well as the surrounding community stood out to Shaun, qualities which were innate to Bob given his background.

“I was not qualified to do the job, but he [Shaun] had confidence and took a chance on me,” he recalls. “My mother worked three jobs the whole time I was growing up, so I grew up with that work ethic,” he reveals as evidence.

Bob also understands first-hand the economic issues affecting much of Vermont’s population today, which contributes to his sense of empathy toward his local community.

“I grew up in a mobile home,” he notes, “and I know most of the people who work here know what it's like to grow up poor,” he says plainly. It is this empathy and loyalty that has helped guide much of the positive impact the brewery has had on the neighbouring community.

“The only place you can buy our beer that's not here, is at the local general store because we want people to go there and support them,” states Bob, a firm rule the brewery lives by. Additionally, all of the company’s charity events, and corporate social responsibility are geared strictly at local initiatives.

“This community desperately needs those charitable offerings, in our context infinitely more than anywhere else,” Bob cites with much conviction in his voice, further underscoring “whatever we can do, we have to, it’s one of our missions.” A clear nod to the company’s strong sense of empathy and loyalty to the local community, as well as its charity begins at home ethos.

This sense of empathy embodied by the company, is also applied in enhancing their customers overall beer experience. This passion is what drives the people working at Hill Farmstead Brewery that has consistently claimed a spot on the 100 Best Breweries in the World list.

Vermont’s craft beer industry continues to blossom, and Hill Farmstead brewery has consistently been rated as one of the top beers not just in Vermont, but in the world. This American Pale Ale is aged in French Oak Barrels. ILO Photos/ John Isaac
“We’ve worked so hard over the last six years as far as the customer facing experience, to empathize with our customers and to understand that the process of just buying our product, should not be painful,” says Bob.

In order to reduce the sometimes 3 to 4 hour lines that clients faced to purchase their beer, the brewery built a tasting room and retail shop on location, and also hired additional staff to keep in line with their belief that “the product is the beer and the guests are our assets”.

“We treat this as a beer resort,” he emphasizes with pride, stating that “empathy has been a key word for us,” to make sure that each and every customer is satisfied with Hill Farmstead as an experience as well as a place. This beer resort idea is in keeping with the Hill family tradition, which built their first tavern in Greensboro in 1809.

There is no mistaking that work is very important to Bob and when describing what it means to him, he says it is “ having the means to have a life, to have a home, and to have the luxuries that are blessed with, and I know that from growing up poor,” he says with profound appreciation and gratitude.

Bob’s strong work ethic has served him well in his various careers and pursuits. His advice to young people is to be honest in your work. “Whatever you do, be the best you can at it, because you never know what that could lead to.”