Beer, Metal, and Leadership with Tom McManus of - EP 005

eCommerce Masters

May 7 2024 • 54 mins

Meeting Tom McManus of

In this engaging podcast episode, Tom McManus, CEO of KegWorks, shares the journey of his business from a specialized eCommerce store to a prominent leader in architectural metalwork for the hospitality industry. Celebrating over 26 years in business, McManus discusses the strategic shift from offering a wide range of products to focusing on high-margin, specialized items like bar foot rails, which are now featured prominently in U.S. bar renovations. He candidly explores the decision to significantly reduce their presence on Amazon, describing the move away from what he terms "revenue heroin." McManus emphasizes the importance of concentrating on core products and direct relationships with clients, which has led to improved profit margins and sustainable business growth. The podcast is peppered with personal anecdotes, including the memorable story of McManus and Ethan's first in-person meeting, which humorously highlights their synergy and mutual business philosophies. McManus offers invaluable advice to other business leaders, underscoring the importance of trusting one’s instincts and prioritizing value creation over immediate gains. Ethan Giffin’s dynamic interaction with McManus not only brings out detailed insights into KegWorks’ strategic decisions but also offers listeners practical strategies for entrepreneurship and leadership. This episode is a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone looking to understand the intricacies of navigating business growth and market changes.

Quotes From The Show

"Every dad on our street had that one friend who had turned an old refrigerator into a kegerator; he was definitely the coolest dad around." - Tom McManus, 03:26 "We've shifted from being a primarily B2C company to focusing more on B2B transactions, which require a different approach and a longer sales cycle." - Tom McManus, 08:26 "I can walk into any bar and spot our products immediately. I once challenged someone by saying, 'Yeah, that's our foot rail. Tell me I'm wrong.'" - Tom McManus, 11:09 "Our growth strategy involved expanding through multiple channels, but we found that just led to trading dollars without real profit." - Tom McManus, 13:03 "The eCommerce landscape is a race to the bottom when you're just competing on price and presence." - Tom McManus, 13:26 "Getting hooked on revenue heroin is dangerous for your business—it's addictive and hard to quit, just like the real thing." - Tom McManus, 13:34


00:17 - Chapter 1: Introduction to Tom McManus and KegWorks 05:00 - Chapter 2: Doubling Down on Architectural Metal 11:37 - Chapter 3: The Downside of Omnichannel Growth 17:50 - Chapter 4: Deep product Knowledge Is Your Best Tool 23:54 - Chapter 5: Building an eComm Dream Team 30:31 - Chapter 6: KegWorks’ eCommerce Tech Stack 45:08 - Chapter 7: Tom’s #1 Mistake

Resources - Rakuten - Magento - BigCommerce - HubSpot - Borderfree - Previously available at but now part of Pitney Bowes. Digital River - Pitney Bowes - Celigo - SearchSpring - Feedonomics -

About our Guest, Tom McManus

Tom McManus is the CEO of KegWorks, a leading provider in the architectural metal and draft beer equipment industry. Since 2005, Tom has steered the company through numerous growth phases, earning it recognition as one of the fastest-growing companies in Western New York and one of the best places to work. Under his leadership, KegWorks has faced and overcome significant challenges, including navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic, which only strengthened the company's resilience and innovative capabilities. Tom's approach to leadership is characterized by a commitment to vision-setting, strategic planning, and execution. With a candid acknowledgment of the trials of business leadership, including admitting to past mistakes and learning from them, Tom brings a depth of understanding and empathy to his role.

About Our Host, Ethan Giffin

Ethan Giffin is the founder and CEO of Baltimore-based Groove Commerce, a premier eCommerce agency that helps mid-market brands design, build and grow their eCommerce sites.

Ethan is an industry expert in eCommerce, e-marketing, and the dynamic technologies behind them. For years, Ethan has lived and breathed conversion rates, search engine visibility, and web analytics.

When Ethan isn’t obsessing over SEO, conversion rates and eCommerce architecture at Groove Commerce, he can be found speaking as an industry authority, both nationally and internationally. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, traveling, DJing, and the pursuit of rare pocket squares.

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