BioRide has acquired Virginia Brewery Tours, a two-year-old brand whose founders include Black Hand Coffee Co. owner Clay Gilbert.
The deal mostly involves the purchase of the Virginia Brewery Tours brand, its web domain and assets like name recognition and relationships with breweries. The transaction closed Tuesday for unspecified terms.
Jesse Mobley, who purchased control of BioRide and took over as CEO last year, said his company has done some brewery tours but didn’t have the name recognition to fully tap into that scene. Meanwhile, Virginia Brewery Tours had developed some decent name recognition, but didn’t have its own vehicles and farmed out the service to transportation firms like BioRide.
“They’ve never had the equipment to operate the tours, so we usually operated the equipment and they operated the tour guide,” Mobley said. “Out of thin air, I was like, ‘Hey, are you guys interested in bringing this into the BioRide fold?’”
Mobley said he sees an opportunity to supplement BioRide’s other revenue streams, which are fueled by corporate accounts, weddings and other rides. He also likes that the brand’s name comes with a built-in statewide potential to tap into people’s desires to travel to breweries in Hampton Roads, Nelson County and elsewhere. That could then lead to brewery tour riders coming back to BioRide for other occasions.
“It’s a brand and business that can operate outside of the Richmond area,” he said. “I view it as a great complement to a transportation company.”
Founded in 2010, BioRide’s fleet currently consists of six sedans, an SUV and two Mercedes Sprinter vans that are powered by biodiesel. Mobley said he’s in the process of purchasing two more Sprinters and a 32-passenger bus, larger vehicles that will help ramp up the brewery tour business.
He said the company should finalize those purchases in the next two months. It is weighing using bank financing or working a leasing deal with an investor. Mobley expects the investment to run about $150,000 for the new vehicles.
“This additional equipment is going to certainly allow us to do larger groups and grow into the Williamsburg and Charlottesville market,” Mobley said. “Having the proper equipment to make these types of trips is very important.”
Virginia Brewery Tours was launched in 2014 by Gilbert and his partner Kevin Kopf.
Gilbert said they did a few tours a year, but Black Hand’s growth had become a priority that forced the brewery tours to take a backseat. The coffee company is growing its wholesale operation, launching coffee carts to go to local farmers’ markets and working to get on the shelves of more big grocery chains.
“Things happen and sometimes you get diverted,” Gilbert said of the brewery tours.
The tour business was also hindered by not having its own vehicles and having to hire out to other transportation companies and thereby cut into the profits.
“Having to contract vehicles became a hassle and what we found out over time was our price wasn’t as competitive as someone that has their own vehicle,” he said.
Virginia Brewery Tours was running tours for around $80 per person that included stops at Richmond breweries and tastings of beers at each stop.
“The business is there, BioRide recognizes it,” Gilbert said. “They like the logos. They like the website. It’s all up to their marketing.”
Mobley is confident he can expand on what Gilbert and Kopf started.
“BioRide has the resources and the equipment to maximize the potential,” he said. “There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be doing four tours a weekend, 150-200 tours a year.”