David Favela: Brewing up Business
By Mario A. Cortez
When David Favela, CEO of Border X Brewing, decided to start a family business, he did this looking for a way to keep in touch with his relatives.
Before becoming involved in beer, Favela’s work with Hewlett-Packard took him on long business trips. Meanwhile, his brother, an engineer with Solar Turbine, and his nephews, Sony employees at the time, remained busy with their own projects.
“Corporate life was taking us in opposite directions and we only ever got together every so often like for a barbecue or for a special family event,” Favela recalled.
At the time, Favela’s nephews Marcel and Martin were already making their own classic-style beers such as Irish reds and Scottish ales as a hobby.
“My nephews love beer, they brewed at home in a very sophisticated way, but were making less than a barrel at a time,” Favela said.
One day, Favela casually mentioned that Marcel and Martin should make some beers inspired by Mexican culture.
“From there, they went out and made a beer using agua de jamaica as a base,” Favela recalled. That first experiment yielded what is now Border X’s Blood Saison beer, a brew which uses Belgian beer yeasts to bring out the traditionally-Mexican base’s floral and fruity properties.
When he first tried it, Favela, his brother, and his nephews instantly knew that craft beer which celebrates the flavors of their culture was the business direction to take. Shortly after, they began brewing out of a warehouse in Otay Mesa, where they opened their first tasting room in November of 2013.
While the initial consumer reception to the beers was positive, some insiders with more conservative views of beer did not see this as a serious project.
“We were criticized by the brewing community because we were not making IPAs or not many European beers. We did things that they saw as being outside the norm, but that didn’t bother us because we knew what we wanted to do and we don’t regret it,” Favela stated.
Growth came quickly despite criticism and in February of 2014 Favela was signing a six-month shared lease for a space on the corner of Logan and Sampson, where the taco restaurant ¡Salud! is currently located.
Continuing with their rapid growth, he then signed a lease for the space currently housing Border X on Logan Avenue after seeing the inside lights turned on during a foggy night. Since then, the family business has steadily become bigger and bigger through their great beer concepts paired with cultural attractions such as Mexican bingo games, Caribbean jazz nights, punk mariachi shows, and art exhibits, among others.
“We make craft beer, but we fused the concept of a brewery with a cultural space where people can get together to have conversations,” Favela said.
Today, Border X has become established in the local beer scene and has brought Favela into a team with his relatives, with he and his brother handling social and commercial aspects of the business while the nephews manage production and day-to-day operations.
Although being the CEO of a independent brewery is very different to being a department manager for one of the world’s largest software and computer companies, Favela says that there are some parallels.
“You can’t do anything without a good team,” he explained. “I have been a manager for 15 years at HP and I have seen how choosing and educating the right people created a great team.”
Although the Border X family has accomplished much, Favela is still amazed at what this family project has been able to do.
“Border X is the most visionary thing we have done because we risked a lot, but we had so much faith in people’s reactions to back us as we grew and things have gone well,” he said.
Currently, Favela prepares the company’s next big step, an expansion into the city of Bell, in the Los Angeles area. This project will place Border X in California’s largest metro market with a 10,000-square foot tasting room and brewing facility.
Through this expansion of the family business, Favela hopes to continue delivering Border X’s combination of great beers and cultural celebration, all while looking to capture the emerging Latino market.
“The new Latino consumer wants to be treated in a way in which they know and like and we want to be there for them,” Favela pointed out. “The Latino population in California is massive and will change the market; this is just the beginning.”