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Community , Why NEPA?

Becky Ryman of Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. – Why NEPA?

“There’s a lot of creativity here, and I think NEPA has sort of become a hub for that, which is pretty cool.”

Not so long ago, a last-minute summer vacation with her family to Lake Wallenpaupack was all it took to sell Becky Ryman on NEPA’s many charms. She’s an accountant by trade, a craft beer enthusiast by nature, and the CEO of one of NEPA’s most beloved local breweries. Yep, that’d be the same Becky Ryman from the award-wining Wallenpaupack Brewing Company in Hawley.

Full disclosure – Mrs. Ryman actually lives just a stone’s throw across the Lackawaxen River in Sullivan County, New York. She does, however, own a summer house on the lake. She’s a U of Scranton alum (twice over) and a successful local business owner (again, twice over). And, she’s got a penchant for cranking out incredibly delicious beers. How could we not call her one of our own?

Day to day, the intrepid, young CEO is all business. And, if business happens to involve beautiful mountain scenery, boats and beer, she’s all that too. Hers is an endearing NEPA love story. The principal characters abound — lake life, entrepreneurial bloodlines, four seasons, a reliable team of locals and a down-to-earth, supportive small business environment. It’s an instant classic.

Anyway, I’ll let her tell it. We sat down with Becky at her popular Hawley brewpub (I insisted). We sampled a few beers (I insisted). And, hopefully, at some point, I asked, Why NEPA?

 

How long have you lived in NEPA?

Well, I technically live just across the river in Sullivan County, New York, but I’ve been affiliated with Northeastern Pennsylvania almost my whole life. My family has been coming here since I was little. And about 10 years ago, we decided that we should get a house here. First, we purchased a little family house on the lake, but we outgrew that once my brother got married and then I got married, so we had to get a bigger house. Then my brother had kids and we outgrew that one. So, now I have a house on the lake and my parents and my brother’s family share a house on the lake. We’re definitely pretty committed to the area. And, now we’ve invested in a second business here. So, we’ve taken a path of this being initially a vacation destination for us and having a great time here throughout the year to growing with the community. And transitioning that into opening a business here has been incredible. The business community has been so welcoming and so awesome. Everyone’s been so supportive.

What brought you to NEPA?

So, from a business perspective, it was definitely a prime spot for what we were trying to do. The availability of great real estate, the super welcoming business community here and how they support each other, definitely the atmosphere – we were drawn by all of it. It’s very outdoors-centric. There’s tons of hiking and activity at the lake and just a lot of things to do that are pretty consistent with what the craft beer community goes for. You know, people like to go somewhere and have a beer and have the space to spread out and enjoy it. And all of that flows through our seasonal beer theme. We love that we have all four beautiful seasons to celebrate. A lot of our creativity in what we do is directly inspired by the area.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

Well, it definitely revolves around the lake. So, any time I can be near the water, you’ll find me out on the boat. I grew up around the water, so, yeah, I’m out there all summer – when I’m not working (laughs). Outside of that, I love getting out and traveling to different towns. I love to go out to eat, and I think the culinary scene in Northeastern PA is pretty amazing. It’s awesome to get away for a night and go down to Scranton, or over to Mount Pocono and have some great food and drinks and hangout with old friends.

Did anything surprise you about NEPA?

It definitely had to be how supportive other business owners were and still are. I have had so many reach out to me and say, “Hey do you want to do this together?”  Or, you know, somebody is starting something, or getting involved in some cool project and they always reach out and ask if we want to be a part of it. There’s just a camaraderie among local businesses here, and that’s something that I haven’t seen in other experiences, or other businesses we’ve owned. This community is super-super supportive. And it’s good to have that – to have people to bounce things off of, to have people willing to collaborate.

What’s next for you?

So, we were fortunate to stay busy through COVID. We kind of had to reinvent ourselves, and I think we did it in such a way that it worked out well. And now we’re actually looking toward expanding. So, hopefully another facility – that’s something that is a daily conversation right now. And we’re currently looking at some different prospects for that. We’re looking at expanding our footprint for wholesale and distribution of our product because there’s a lot of demand for it. We’d also have to support that volume, so we’re looking at expanding the facility here to accommodate, and hopefully adding that second facility isn’t too far off on the horizon.

Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?

I think Northeastern Pennsylvania is actually already heading in a progressive direction. There are a lot of really neat businesses moving in. A lot of new, single shingle, mom n’ pop stores are popping up. There has definitely been a resurgence of craft-oriented businesses, you know people are making things on their own and finding ways to sell them. And that’s really exciting. I love that kind of stuff. And, especially post-COVID, we’re seeing this influx of people moving to the area and I think they’re going to be bringing a lot of interesting ideas with them. We’re definitely on the upswing here. There’s a lot of creativity here, and I think NEPA has sort of become a hub for that, which is pretty cool.

Why NEPA?

In one word – fun.

I have always associated this whole area with fun. It was a vacation spot growing up. And, even now, when I come to work, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s like I’m just going to the lake, you know? And, at the end of the day, we have beer, which is always great (laughs). We have all this awesome scenery to enjoy it in all year round. It’s just a really fun area with lots of stuff to do. If you come here and you can’t find something to do, then you’re obviously not looking because there’s just so much.

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