Brewmaster taps business knowledge for Startsville

Stephen Thompson, co-owner and brewmaster for Local Motive.
Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Stephen Thompson, co-owner and brewmaster at Local Motive Brewing Company of Florence, was the featured speaker at Startsville’s September 12 Knowledge Cafe event, and he brought tasty beer samples and first-hand business lessons to entertain and edify guests.

Thompson, a Greenville native and graduate of the College of Charleston, took a circuitous path to becoming a restaurateur. He was recruited right out of school by Sonoco and worked there as a logistics manager between 1995 and 2009. After the company downsized and Thompson found himself looking for another job, he shifted over to manage the craft beer division at Crown Beverage.

During his eight year stint with Crown, Thompson saw the craft beer market explode in popularity, and spent much of his time visiting craft breweries, talking with owners and brewers, and “picking people’s brains” about everything from techniques to water quality. He partnered with friend and experienced brewer Billy McBride and opened Local Motive in downtown Florence in July.

Thompson says that he has learned several important lessons in the early days of running his business and he shared some of these with Startsville guests.

He said that while you must draw hard lines and set your core principals firmly, be prepared to erase some of the less important lines and remain flexible as your circumstances change. He advised securing more financing than your business plan requires, since many startups encounter unexpected expenses that can drain away capital. Thompson suggested that with partners and employees, you must remember to delegate responsibilities to those who are most qualified and have the “core competencies” to best fulfill those duties.

Also, he warned guests to delineate between “smart money and stupid money” when purchasing equipment and upfitting a business space, meaning you should analyze whether the outlay for a spendy machine will actually result in increased profit.

Part of the Kress Corner revitalization project, Local Motive is located at 121 and 123 North Dargan Street in Florence. The bar and restaurant are contained within a 3,600 square-foot space which seats about 70 guests at booths, high tops and tables, and at the bar. Thompson says the restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere with good food and a selection of twelve unique brews on tap.

“We brew anything and everything. We do lagers, sours, IPAs, dark beers,” said Thompson, noting that the custom menu offered by their kitchen is a great complement to the beers, and food sales now comprise about 40 percent of their revenues.

Local Motive is open Monday and Tuesday from 4 p.m. until, Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. To learn more, visit them online at

Startsville is located at 145 West College Avenue in Hartsville. To find out about upcoming Knowledge Cafe events, visit them online at

Author: Duane Childers

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