Veteran Entrepreneur: Terrance Sando, Managing Partner, Goose River Brewing

Written by: Brady Drake

With years of experience in the private sector and public service, Terry Sando, Hillsboro’s current mayor, is working to bring a Brew Pub destination to the region’s beer lovers and downtown Hillsboro through the soon-to-be open Goose River Brewing.

“Goose River Brewing will be a Brew Pub and Brewery that produces our beer for on and off sale,” said Sando. “The food we will be sports bar favorites.”

Sando boasts an accomplished resume that is too long to list in its entirety. He is currently the Director of Business Development for Mobile Recon Systems. In the past, he was the Business Manager for Unmanned Autonomous Systems in North America and a lead for advancing the establishment of Unmanned Autonomous Systems with the Grand Forks EDC.

During his years of service with the Air National Guard, Sando held multiple positions of local and national importance.

What was your first job once you finished your service?

I took a couple of months off to decompress and after that I went to work for UND developing their Emergency Management Program.

What led you to military service?

I always wanted to be a pilot and that is why I enlisted, unfortunately, by the time I was eligible, I was too old.

Did you take advantage of military benefits when starting your business?

Yes, the VBOC has been very helpful and I’m using my GI Bill to get a Brewing Certificate from the University of Vermont.

What skill that you learned in your military service do you use most in your business career?

The leadership skills, ability to do critical analysis, and the most obvious one is people skills.

Would you have been able to start a business without your military experience? Why or why not?

That is an interesting question. I think the answer is yes, but it would have been more difficult. My military career provided the opportunity to gain more and more responsibility. This could have been replicated in civilian life also, but it may have taken longer to achieve. The other important factor is that after 30 years I have a secure retirement which allows me to make an investment in building a brewery.

What words of encouragement do you have for a fellow veteran nervous about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship – or maybe a veteran who started a business and is struggling?

There isn’t any better feeling than owning your own business. As an entrepreneur,
you get to focus on building something and making a dream come true. Will it be easy, no, but knowing that you made a contribution to your community and building a legacy that your family is proud of is worth the sacrifices. If you are struggling, reach out to the VBOC and SBA to take advantage of veteran programs. Use your GI Bill benefits, if available, to learn those new skills to be successful in your business.

Many veterans struggle with finding a sense of purpose when reintegrating into the civilian world. How can getting involved in the business community help with that reintegration process?

I think that often it is difficult to make the transition from military life to the civilian world. Going one day where you entrust your life to the young lady or man next to you, creates a strong bond, a sense of belonging. Then, transitioning to the civilian world, where that strong bond isn’t always reciprocated, can be tough. I have found that if you are open to your community, there are many opportunities to get involved. If you would have told me that I was going to be the Mayor of Hillsboro back in 2009, I would have thought you were crazy, but here I am. A lot of that has to do with my public service in the military, it’s just another form of public service.

What are some things you would’ve done differently with your business career if given a second chance?

I would have looked at taking the brewing classes that I’m enrolled in now sooner. It would have helped me to develop a better business plan for the brewery.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.