Over a decade on active duty in the Marine Corps, Seth Jordan squirreled away money and recently made a longtime dream come true when he opened Dog Tag Brewing in Belgrade.
When he left active duty last year, he spent months on the paperwork, financing and the fine print before Dog Tag began distributing beer this year.
Dog Tag Brewing is a family company with Jordan at the helm. His sister Emily Jordan is his business partner and sales director. His wife Katy is the company’s marketing director.
Armed with a business degree from Clemson University and experience in television ad sales at ESPN, where he met Katy, Jordan was able to open the company with his own money and a bank loan. He said he considered using programs through the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Small Business Administration, but was able to get started without them.
Dog Tag Brewing brews two beers, an IPA and a lager, and they are distributed throughout Montana.
The beer is sold in aluminum cans and Jordan said they’re the first in the state to use a labeling technology from Rexam, a global company, which allows multiple label designs in each batch of beer.
The can design features dog tags with information about fallen troops. Jordan said a percentage of sales go to nonprofits that support veterans and their families and directly to Gold Star families, which are those who have lost a member who was serving in the military at the time.
Of the thousands of beers sold in the U.S., Jordan said Dog Tag is different “because we’re drinking with purpose. Let’s just stop and reinvent the toast and reflect on these guys.”
The beer is available in Helena, Great Falls, Billings and Bozeman. Jordan said they recently signed contracts for the Missoula and Butte markets. In Great Falls, the beer is distributed by Gusto Beverage.
Jordan’s long-term goal is to tell as many stories as he can on each can of beer with plans to distribute nationally.
“I want to take Memorial Day and make Memorial Day every day. I think we have a message that transcends beyond the borders of Montana,” he said.
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Jordan was working in New York City in 2001 and lived a block from the World Trade Center.
“It changed my life, that’s why I went off and joined the Marine Corps,” he said of Sept. 11, 2001.
As a Marine, Jordan was a UH-1Y, or Huey, pilot. He led more than 200 combat missions and coordinated more than 1,000 emergency aviation operations during two deployments to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Among his many military decorations, Jordan was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with valor for his efforts to save fellow Marines when Camp Bastion was attacked by 15 Taliban insurgents in September 2012.
He and his squadron were also featured in Battleground Afghanistan, which aired on National Geographic last year as a look at the conflict through the eyes of U.S. Marines on the front line.
Jordan is also the executive director of Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, a nonprofit in Bozeman that works to reintegrate injured combat veterans and active service members from recent wars through fly fishing and other therapeutic recreational activities in southwest Montana.
Running a nonprofit and starting a business requires time management skills.
“Starting a business is unlike anything, it’s your baby, you’re the only one responsible for its success or failure. Both are challenging and exhausting but both have missions that keep me going,” Jordan said. “It’s a worthy challenge. When I rest my head on the pillow at night, I feel good about what I’ve accomplished.”