There are a lot of ways to describe Jeff Schrag: entrepreneur, beer maker, innovator, real estate investor and businessman.
But the title the 48-year-old Kansas native likes the most is a simple one: friend.
“How about Jeff Schrag is my friend?” he asked during an interview. “I’ll take that one.”
Lots of Schrag’s friends and business acquaintances will be on hand Friday when the Springfield entrepreneur is honored at OTC’s Excellence in Business Ceremony at 7:30 a.m. at the White River Conference Center at Bass Pro Shops. Tickets are available at by going to otc.edu/excellenceinbusiness.
Schrag was selected for the award for his business leadership, entrepreneurial success, innovative business growth, ability to overcome challenges with integrity, a supporter of educational development, customer-driven quality and community achievement.
Schrag came to Springfield in 1995 after purchasing the Daily Events legal newspaper. In 2007, he purchased the Pioneer Formal Accessories Co. and is now the largest wholesaler of cufflinks in the United States.
In 2011, he created Mother’s Brewing Co., a craft beer company that distributes its products throughout the region and in several states.
It is the success of the brewery that has brought Schrag the most notoriety lately, which began after he was reading an article about brewing in the New Yorker after Thanksgiving 2008.
It made me think, “Wait a minute, I can do a craft brewery and I can do it in downtown Springfield.’ What I was really looking for was some business where I could keep my other businesses and stay downtown. That was very important to me,” he said.
“I knew as much then about making beer as I know now which is nothing. I was a good beer drinker but not a beer maker. So it’s been trial by fire, trial by error.”
Schrag is known in most circles for his positive, sometimes gregarious, outlook and attitude about life.
“It just doesn’t cost any more to have a smile on your face,” he said.
Schrag believes people in the Ozarks should smile more because they live in a place with so much to offer.
“We could use a good old dose of self-esteem. I think folks need to recognize what a great offering we have here from the medical community to the education community to the environment we have, the outdoors activities we have,” he said
Steve Koehler is coordinator of media relations at Ozarks Technical Community College.