To celebrate the season of love, we're getting to know a few couples who own businesses together. We sat down with Nathan and Leah Huelsebusch to chat all things Taxman, Pizza & Libations and their businesses to come.
Q: What is your professional background?
A (Nathan): I studied finance, and I had a master's degree in accounting. I started my career at Deloitte which is one of the big four accounting firms. I did international taxation for about seven years. Leah and I moved to Belgium with that job and lived there for three years.
A (Leah): I studied at the University of Cincinnati. Communications was my major. We lived in Belgium for a while. When we returned from Belgium I worked at Cummins. I did a PR and marketing type role at Cummins for their corporate office. After Cummins I did pharmaceutical sales for Novartis.
Q: How did you and your husband meet?
A (Leah): We both went to the University of Cincinnati. Nathan had already graduated and was working at Deloitte. I was in my last years of school and some mutual friends introduced us. Everyone met at my house before we went to dinner, and he looked in my fridge and he saw that I had craft beer. He saw some good craft beer that he liked. Then he didn’t say anything, but he was like oh I’m interested. This was a secret set up too, so this was like a blind date. We didn’t know they were setting us up on a blind date. We went to dinner and Nathan ordered a great barley wine and I noticed that. It was kind of funny that we both had noticed each other's beer tastes. We started dating from there on and the rest is history.
Q: Can you tell me more about Taxman Brewing? What’s the inspiration behind this business?
A (Nathan): Right after we got married, we moved to Belgium. They had at the time several thousand breweries. It was one of the most diverse beer scenes and it still is. When we were in Belgium it was obviously professional, but we traveled a ton. One of the things we liked to do on weekends was check out small towns and breweries in those towns. They’re famous for having these monastery-based breweries. They’re called Travis breweries. We really got into the beer and the food pairings with all that. I did some home brewing before we left for Belgium and took the flavor profiles of those famous Belgium beers and started directing them into our own recipes. Then when we moved back here in Greenwood, we realized quickly that nobody was really making that type of beer. Nobody was really creating an atmosphere where you can enjoy the beer and the food in this area. As the year went on, we thought it would be nice to have a brewery we could go to right down the street. We were like if nobody else is going to create something we’re going to go ahead and take a stab at it. The name Taxman comes from the background I have in taxation. Our logo is inspired by the quote, “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.” All our beers take on a tax theme.
Q: You also have three other businesses. Can you explain what inspired you to branch out and can you tell me a little bit about those businesses?
A (Nathan): We have three Taxman locations. The (business) we’re sitting in is Pizza & Libations. This is a new concept that we opened in November. This is more of an Italian inspired concept. Next door to this place we’re going to have a concept called Cellars Market, which is more of a European-inspired bakery. It’s also going to have alcohol as well. It’s going to be like a small market. By the end of this year, we’ll have seven concepts that we’ll be running.
A (Leah): Cellars Market is also going to have a restaurant on the second floor. We’ll also have a brewery that functions separately but obviously together.
Q: Do you run into any obstacles working with your spouse?
A (Leah): Sometimes we’re running in different directions, but we need to come together to make decisions on things. The only time we’ll get to do that is when we both get home from our day.
A (Nathan): The biggest obstacle for us is finding that work life balance and figuring out when the work day ends. When do you stop talking about work? I think that’s a challenge because obviously we both have an intimate knowledge of what’s happening in businesses day to day. There’s a tendency to just continue the work day after the work day ends.
Q: How do you separate responsibilities?
A (Leah): Our skill sets are very different and complimentary. I think that allows us to know he’s going to be a much better consultant for our financial forecasting, and when it comes to brand and marketing the way we communicate that is more my forte. I think respecting each other's skill sets and trusting one another's instincts really helps us. We also value each other's opinion very greatly as well.
A (Nathan): We’re fortunate in that regard because we have very different sides of the brain we’re typically working with. In that respect we do have more complimentary skill sets.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part about working with your spouse?
A (Leah): We both had demanding careers before we started Taxman. We might not see each other until 6:30 or so and at the end of the day we would both be kind of beat. We love that now we get to do our life together. Our daily life, our work life and we enjoy each other's company.
A (Nathan): I think accomplishing a goal together is an awesome way to build our relationship. That extends to the broader team as well. We’re a very collective group. We do our best to make it feel and function like a team environment.
Q: Can you tell me the funniest or most interesting thing that’s happened while working with your spouse?
A (Leah): I think it’s kind of funny that our staff call us mom and dad. They very much think of it fondly. It’s a special thing because we work together and take on that role for the business.
A (Nathan): Every day is a new challenge. It’s all very interesting from a personal growth and development standpoint. You never have the same day which is cool.
Q: What do people have to look forward to in the future?
A (Leah): Definitely Cellars Market next door, which is an exciting concept.
A (Nathan): Every year we do an event called Death & Taxes Day. This year we’re expanding it and bringing in a few more breweries and additional vendors. We’re expanding the stages that we’re going to have four bands. It’s going to be a big jump for us and a big jump for the town.