College is a time for discovering likes, dislikes, interests and passions. While many students set goals with plans to become doctors, lawyers, teachers and scientists, John Schmuecker was a student with no real plan as to what he would do professionally after college. That is, until one day when the owner of Tiny Tim’s pizza in Fayetteville offered to sell his business – an opportunity that Schmuecker eagerly accepted and has changed his life ever since.
Growing up a farm boy from Iowa, his father, Tom, purchased a fly tying business in 1973 called Wapsi Fly Company. Producing and selling to major companies, Schmuecker watched his father grow a successful business, often helping out when necessary. According to the company’s website, changes in the economy led to fly companies producing flies overseas. This change led to a decision made by the family’s patriarch to move the company and the family to Mountain Home, Ark.
“We moved from Iowa to Mountain Home because of the fishing,” Schmuecker said, regarding his dad’s decision.
Only two and a half hours away sat the University of Arkansas, and when it came time to deciding on a college, Schmuecker’s older brothers helped in his decision-making. “I’m number three out of four boys. My two older brothers went to the U of A and I thought it to be a comfortable location,” he said.
Starting in the business school, he quickly realized that accounting was not his strong suite, so he switched to the J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences and majored in geography. Throughout his time in college, his interest in ultimate Frisbee developed, a sport which he has been playing for 30 years. “I realized that I really enjoyed playing ultimate Frisbee and was actually really good at it. It’s great fun,” he admits.
However, it wasn’t ultimate Frisbee that would become his profession, but the pizza and brewery business. Working at Tiny Tim’s for 11 years prior to becoming owner, Schmuecker graduated in 1995 and acquired the business a year later, saying, “The owner was looking to sell and I asked him if he would sell it to me…and he did.”
After years of expansion and attempts to begin his brewing business, Schmuecker maintained his hopes of turning his hobby of home brewing into a business with the West Mountain Brewing Co. “I’ve always noticed the different flavors in beer and I’ve always thought it was a neat thing to do,” he admits.
His hopes turned into reality when he met brewmaster, Andy Coates. “Andy is certainly the most qualified brewer. We ordered the equipment and we have been making beer for almost a year and a half now,” he said.
With Coates at the helm of brewing, Schmuecker has already received positive feedback from the community, saying, “We have a very loyal following and it has been well received. Much of our clientele is older, and they’re looking for a quieter atmosphere so they’re not yelling to try and speak to one another.” When looking at the competition in Northwest Arkansas, Schmuecker admits that there is enough beer to go around for everyone.
While maintaining a thriving business in downtown Fayetteville, Schmuecker gives credit to the school that sits only a short distance away – the University of Arkansas. “I received a diverse education there and really enjoyed my time at the U of A,” he said. Through his lifetime membership in the Arkansas Alumni Association, he admits that since he had such an enjoyable experience, he wants to help others enjoy their time at the U of A as well.