Melvin Brewing CEO, Auburn alumnus, talks Auburn Engineering

By Lauren Winton

Published: Jul 20, 2020 11:02:00 AM

Frank Magazine Frank Magazine

An expert in food production, Frank Magazine knows his way around a bushel of hops and a brewery. Which is a good thing, considering his current role as CEO of Melvin Brewing Company in Alpine, Wyoming.

“It’s my runway to retirement job – my fun job. A small and growing company with great personnel, a great product and great branding,” said Magazine, a 1981 chemical engineering graduate. “When the owners of Melvin Brewing approached me about the opportunity, they expressed their desire to grow while staying true to their culture of craft brewing and fun. We want to stay with the great branding and culture that we’ve built and keep the spirit of a small craft brewery that distributes on a national and eventually international scale.”

Melvin Brewing is distributed in to 20 states, and they will target 25 states by the end of the year.  Rapid growth of the company under Magazine’s leadership should come as no surprise, considering his history and reputation in the food industry.

“I’d say my career started normally,” Magazine said. “I was a young chemical engineer and started at a USS Chemical plant in Houston, TX. As a process engineer working in plasticizers. For the layman, that’s plastic additives that modify plastics in a certain way. I was involved with a team building the plant, and after five years, my father told me I should go into technical sales.  My Dad was a very successful Chemical Engineer in his own right and his input was invaluable”

Magazine’s father was the inspiration for his chemical engineering field of study. To learn someone who was so plant-based and hands-on would recommend technical sales surprised Magazine.

“I thought, nah, not sales. I wanted to do something applied. But it turns out that a technical salesman is someone who goes in and solves problems,” Magazine said. “So, with my wife Sunnie’s support, I transferred and moved into water treatment with Betz. I always maintained that my first year with Betz was so rigorous that it would’ve compared to my toughest year in college.”

At Betz, Magazine learned to interact with customers and other engineers, to solve complex water-based process problems. When he transferred to the Midwest with his new job, he quickly learned that most of the Midwest processing plants were grain and food based.

“I learned the internals of food processing. I learned so many different things, and I really enjoyed the food industry and the chain before it gets to the final consumer. I developed a really strong basic process understanding and had a fundamental knowledge of all the supporting processes around it.”

Magazine’s experiences led to several different positions throughout his career. He worked his way up the corporate ladder, through vice president of global accounts for Betz water treatment, and ended up as the president of Emerald Foam Control, a food additive product manufacturer.

“After that, we went through several venture capital handoffs, built through acquisition and sold the company three different times. We were then bought by a strategic chemical company, stayed three years through the transition and then found my fun job when I was recruited to Melvin Brewing,” Magazine stated.

When asked if his chemical engineering degree provided the pragmatic, hands-on learning experience needed to succeed in the engineering world, Magazine laughed.

“My experience at Auburn was unique. Unique, in that it was a good experience, but I wouldn’t exactly call it hands-on. I learned a lot, but the curriculum was rigid and very book-based, technical. There was no room for electives, it was all engineering. I was the chemical engineering student who was involved socially on campus,” Magazine said. “And some of my professors at the time didn’t really understand why. As a student, I argued with the chair at the time that electives and social participation are important, that they lead to a well-rounded education. That’s one of the reasons I decided to get involved as an alumnus.”

Magazine was a founding member of the Chemical Engineering Alumni Council. His passion for Auburn Engineering and the curriculum has been instrumental in making changes that have led to the hands-on education engineering students receive today.

“The biggest change-agent, of course, has been Dean Dr. Christopher Roberts. He has done so much good for the college,” Magazine said.

It was around the time that the Chemical Engineering Alumni Council was formed that then Professor Roberts joined Auburn University.

“Chris Roberts entered the chemical engineering department. He was progressive, he listened, he liked what he heard from the alumni and then became chair of the department,” Magazine said. “He said to us, ‘OK, what do you think?’ and to his credit, and the department’s credit, he listened and took our input and changed the curriculum. He rounded out student education to include presentation skills, socialization, team building, safety and financial considerations – real world things.”

When Dr. Roberts became dean, he maintained his vision for the college and implemented a well-rounded, practical curriculum for all engineering disciplines.

“Students today don’t know how lucky they are,” Magazine stated. “Dean Roberts has been such a singular, positive change agent for Auburn Engineering. And people like Dr. Mario Eden, who stepped in as chair of chemical engineering right after Dr. Roberts, they are extremely appreciated by our alumni.”

And that small Auburn Chemical Engineering Alumni Council, which started as five members is now fifty plus strong with a waiting list to join.

“Kudos to the whole group,” Magazine said. “With the alumni and awesome administration we have in place, the chemical engineering department in particular – and other engineering disciplines – have that real world element in the curriculum.  Students are encouraged to take electives that round out their college experience as well as become socially active on campus.  I am now able to reflect on ‘what was’ and realize the new and amazing ‘what is’ at Auburn University.  I am thankful and proud that I have been able to participate in and support the changes.  I could not be more proud and satisfied.  War Eagle….. and drink Melvin beer!”

Media Contact: Lauren Winton, lmw0090@auburn.edu, 334.844.5519

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