Veteran uses military training to reopen, revamp Austin brewery business

About five years ago, FOX 7 Austin introduced viewers to former Marine First Lieutenant Mark Phillippe right as he had achieved a seven-year dream.

That dream was opening his own microbrewery and taproom. 

Hi Sign Brewing got off to a great start, but then came the challenges. The three-year construction project on 183 made it almost impossible to get to his location, and then there was the pandemic. It all nearly shut down Hi Sign Brewing. 

"I had nobody making beer, no employees, just me. And I took out a sticky note and wrote YCF, you cannot fail, on it. So I'd walk in and know there's more riding on this than just myself," Phillippe said. 

With his dream business on the line, the lessons he learned on deployment in Helmond Province began to kick in.

"It was a parallel mindset to being a platoon commander in Afghanistan. For me that YCF was a was like you can't fail your Marines. If you do the job poorly, plan, execute poorly, don't train them properly," said Phillippe.

His big plan was to relocate the business.

It took about three years to do it, all the while knowing and being prepared that every day would bring unexpected twists, turns and challenges. 

"There's that training that doesn't leave you when you finish your contract. There were times during COVID when I'd wake up, and we had one employee. I'd think to myself 'there's nothing today that's going to be harder than losing a Marine, so this stuff is fine...we just make beer.'"

And the beer is flowing once again at Hi Sign's new location in East Austin

Almost everything is new, the staff, the equipment, the taproom. One thing that isn't new is the training and mindset that served Phillippe on deployment and still serves him now.